Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Axe for young men.

You might have seen this in an advertisement? Axe body spray. Axe cologne. And now their newest product, Axe Hair products.

It is marketed to a specific generation of young men, ages 18-25, give and take a few years. What is fascinating to me, is how they market this stuff. It is always with very sexually imagery and women oogling themselves at the guys who put it on. Here is an image from their website...

It seems to be a cave woman, sniffing around for her man. Bringing us back to prehistoric times. Its pretty dang sexual. There are bunnies in front of her, umm.. another suggestive thought.

So why is this brilliantly evil? Why do millions of teenagers go for it? Well, I think it has to do with young men, and what they need.

Richard Rohr tells a story in his book, Adam's Return, how young men in the aboriginal culture were taken around the age of 13, away from their mother, and into the community of men. They were taken away, sometimes up to a year, and taught the ways of their warrior men. Part of this ceremony was taking them to the place of the stone axe. When the sons had completed their initiation rites, they were allowed to wield an axe. But up until that point, they were not permitted a sharp weapon. Only for those who knew how to use it, were given permission. Only those who had been initiated. A man needed to be taken into his power, before he was given some form of it, like an axe.

He took it back into his community, and used that axe for the good of those around him.

With the loss of initiation rites of passage, and without the men doing this work for their sons, a boy needs that symbol. Regardless of who gives it to him, he will seek it out. We were made for it. for strength, power, and drive. It is a good thing, that as Christ taught I believe, through suffering, hardship, and knowing your Father, was to be wielded for good. Love first, then power. But power, as Dan Allender says, was meant to be sweet and enjoyable, and good.

But when men dont come around, Robert Bly says that often a boy becomes naive to women. He sees no connection to his need for men, and women seem the promise to hold the key to this power. In a culture where men do little of the initiation, hence, we are vulnerable to be exploited by this promise that women could validate our manhood.

Even the spokesperson for axe seems to explain it this way...

“Our products are based on the consumer insight that guys groom to get the girl.”

I am amazed at how this symbol seems to be still coming out. The promise of Axe, the body cologne, is more than a scent. It is manhood. Power. The ability to get a woman rolling around half naked in the woods, looking for you. It's as if this AXE, is really what we need to find, again. Power. Strength. Validation. The latest commercial for Axe spray has them saying, "Get girl-approved hair." Completely taking it to mean, a woman will do these things for you.

I grieve this. Because as young men, they need AXE. But they dont need this false form of it. And they dont need some exploited woman in the woods, to give it to them. They need the men to rise up, and take them out, and offer them the deeper need behind this. They need a man to give them a gun, and then take them out hunting with the men. They need a man to give them they keys to an old beat around Jeep, and then go spend a few days learning how to drive it together. What we need is power, men, and Jesus who leads us into power, only to surrender it for the greater good. Until a boy steps into some real power, and has men offer this, will he ever then choose and be given the chance to use it to serve love. And Jesus.