I enjoy those Dove Soap ads that show clips of caring Dads. The Dove+Care ads are intended to push its line of men’s grooming products and promote fatherhood. A Father’s Day ad shows two dads kissing and rocking an infant to sleep. “As a brand, we’re focused on the evolution of masculinity and highlighting dads’ caring sides,” said Jennifer Bremmer, director of marketing. “Definitions of heroism have traditionally been rooted in physical strength, but this Father’s Day, Dove Men+Care will celebrate how heroes gain strength from moments of care, elevating them to hero status in the eyes of others,” said Bremmer. Are two dads kissing part of the evolution of masculinity? Do heroes only have strength when they care? What ever happened to the “tough” and “tender” man?
These ads want to portray the sensitive side of men. But how do men actually become sensitive and more caring dads. In my opinion, the narrative is going to leave a lot of guys confused. I thought of this quote: “To ask a man to become relationally aware, without being first of all secure in his maleness is to ask a man to be less than a man. It is in some ways asking a man to act like a woman without first knowing what it is like to be a man. A man must be sensitive from the heart of a truly secure man.” If the ads implies that a man cannot be physical strong as well as caring, then we are talking about feminized men. Is the ad implying that we celebrate a new kind of hero? I worry about the emulation of the soft male.
I wonder if this ad is not going to cause some men to distance themselves from their natural instinct of embracing the strong, physical, protective role of men. I humbly submit that if it were not for the heroics of men, we would not have become a great nation. Camilla Paglia puts it bluntly,”If civilization had been left in female hands we would still be living in grass huts.” We need a good dose of heroism in our culture. Speaking of heroes, William Bennett observed, “there was a certain nobility, a largeness of soul, a hitching up of one’s own purposes, to larger purposes, to purposes beyond the self, to something that demanded endurance of sacrifice or courage or resolution or compassion, it was to nurture something because one had a sense of what deserved to be loved and preserved.”
Every man knows that he is meant to embrace both the “tough” and the “tender” aspect of his masculinity. A man balanced in his relationships will express both the masculine and the feminine. A man can only be both tough and tender when he is secure in his masculine soul. To emulate the soft side, without regard for the strong, protective side of a man, is asking a man to be feminized, that is, relating from his feminine side without regard for his true masculine soul.
Our model for the balanced tough and tender man is our Lord Jesus. Philippians 2:5-8 expresses it well. “Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human……It was an incredibly humbling process…….he lived a selfless obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death” (Phil 2:5-6 – The Message). Being secure in himself Jesus could give himself for us.