New French ad suggests toxic masculinity is as dangerous behind the wheel as drunk-driving – Screen Shot
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New French ad suggests toxic masculinity is as dangerous behind the wheel as drunk-driving

Growing up in France, it almost became tradition for the general public to denounce the disturbing messages presented in every road safety campaign that was launched—which, in a way, means that they successfully accomplished what they aimed to do, to raise awareness about the many dangers of careless driving.

But, among the current Andrew Tate-fulled discourse surrounding toxic masculinity, the country’s latest campaign is betting on more than shock factor. For the first time ever, it’s warning viewers that toxic masculinity itself could be as important a contributing factor to road deaths as speed, alcohol, drugs, and fatigue.

Released on Wednesday 8 February 2023, the advert shows men during the births of their sons, portraying them as sensitive in what is probably an attempt to contrast with the aggressive virility of macho stereotypes.

The voice-over is emotional and has a father speak directly to his newly born son. “You don’t have to be what people expect from a man. It’s up to you,” the dad says. He continues, advising his son to be a man who’s “sensitive, a man who cries, a man who’s big-hearted.”

As stated on the Securite Routiere’s website, in France, 78 per cent of those killed in road accidents in 2022 were men, a number that is very close to the average across the European Union (EU). Of French drivers aged 18 to 24 killed on the road last year, 88 per cent were men. Of people suspected to have caused road accidents, 84 per cent were men. Moreover, men accounted for 93 per cent of drunk drivers involved in an accident.

The message of this campaign is certainly not to blame or stigmatise men but to urge them to notice and subsequently resist societal pressure when it comes to what’s expected from a man. Sociologist Alain Mergier carried out a study on masculinity and driving across all age groups for the project.

Speaking to The Guardian, he said: “It’s striking how certain stereotypes are persistently passed from father to son, including the car as a symbolic object of masculinity, male identity and virility. This isn’t given much thought and yet we can see the far-reaching impact on accidents.”

Mergier further explained that, in France, some boys and men are taught from childhood that the car is their ‘symbol’ and that it’s through driving that they can “defend their manliness.” Furthermore, the cultural notion that boys and men are instinctively “very familiar” with cars can quickly lead to an assumption that men naturally “know how to drive,” which can often lead to overconfidence in dangerous situations on the road.

We’ve all witnessed the ridiculous contest of who’s the alpha male when a man gets overtaken by another car and tries to do the same in order to defend their masculinity, “lest it be seen as fragile or vulnerable.”

“What’s important about this campaign is that it doesn’t stigmatise men, it suggests another vision of men and masculinity, which is not about confrontation, or being aggressive, but about sensitivity,” Mergier aptly concluded.

The number of men dying on the roads is a serious issue—one that should push society to take a closer look at engrained behaviours which we never linked with reckless driving until now.

Recreational drug users could have passports and driving licences confiscated in UK government crackdown

Recreational drug users in England and Wales could have their passports and driving licences seized under new proposals announced by the government. The latest crackdown on drug use in society would also see casual users of cocaine and cannabis facing fines and having to attend drug courses.

The UK government says the tougher penalties would help tackle the “scourge” of substance abuse in the country. Such a plan had previously made headlines in December 2021 after a report published by The Sunday Times revealed that all but one of 12 analysed lavatory areas in Parliament showed traces of cocaine.

At the time, drug reform campaigners had already criticised the publication of Boris Johnson’s 10-year drugs strategy in December and the UK government for going “backwards” by embracing a criminal sanction-led approach while other countries and federal states are adopting more progressive strategies, such as the legalisation of cannabis in Canada. Needless to say, further debate unravelled as more of the public heard about Westminster’s secret relationship with cocaine.

The controversial proposals have been published in a white paper entitled Swift, Certain, Tough. New Consequences for Drug Possession. In it, the escalating tougher penalties that recreational drugs users in the country could face include:

– First-time offenders will be required to pay for and attend a drug awareness course.

– If they don’t attend a course, they will have to pay an increased ‘Fixed Penalty Notice’ or even face prosecution.

– Those found using drugs for a second time would be given a caution, sent on a further drug awareness course and would face a period of mandatory, random drug testing for a period of up to three months.

– Offenders caught for a third time would likely be charged and upon conviction, as part of a civil court order, could be subject to an exclusion order banning them from a specific location like a nightclub.

– Third-time offenders could also be given a drug tag monitoring their usage and see their passports and driving licences confiscated.

The proposals will be subject to a 12-week public consultation. Home Secretary Priti Patel said the move shows the government is “cracking down on drug use,” adding: “Drugs are a scourge across society. They devastate lives and tear communities apart. Drug misuse puts lives at risk, fuels criminality and serious and violent crime and also results in the grotesque exploitation of young, vulnerable people.”

“In line with our strategy to tackle the harmful consequences of drugs, we aim to reverse the rising trend of substance use in society, to protect the public from the harm and violence of drug misuse,” she added.

Many have noted that the government’s ‘war on drugs’ approach to drug policy has shown itself again and again to just create more problems. The added possibility of Patel taking away someone’s passport over drug use is even more worrying—considering she can currently strip any dual national of their citizenship and has made a name for herself for introducing a wide range of measures to facilitate the removal of refused asylum seekers and other migrants.