WHEN it comes to the subject of what’s wrong with men, or for that matter what’s wrong with all of us and the society we live in, the term toxic masculinity is not one I feel particularly happy with.

Yes, I’ve used it a good few times and read some books on it, but, while I think the theory – that we need to rid ourselves of a masculinity that revolves around violence, status and aggression ¬ is strong and everyone should have a look at it, I feel the impact of the term is increasingly negative. Immediately you utter the phrase it closes down conversation with exactly the people we might hope to engage with. Say “toxic” and already backs are up. The t-word is often used to shame. It is, itself, aggressive. But even when it’s not, the problem is that far too many men take one look, think you’re calling them toxic, or all masculinity toxic, and get into defence-attack mode. Before you know it, as happened last week, the Gillette razors are out – and have hit the bin.

That was the reaction, certainly by some, to the Gillette toxic masculinity advert which was launched last week and rapidly garnered, at time of writing around a million dislikes – as well as half a million likes. The short film started with fragments of audio mentioning a few key issues, “bullying”, “sexual harassment”, “toxic masculinity”, before asking, “Is this the best a man can get? ” It set off that cascade of defensiveness that too often is the response to any criticism or perceived shaming, and which only seems to flag-up the fragility of masculinity. Many seemed to see it, or wilfully misunderstand it, as a sweeping insult to all men.

Men don’t like to be told off – who does? – and Gillette, even if their message seemed quite positive, appeared to be doing that. It was like a report card, saying, ‘Some of this class could do better ¬ particularly those ones who are harassing, fighting and mansplaining, you know who you are. But also the rest of you who are just letting it all happen.’

It seems to me that if we’re going to purge the toxic from masculinity, we need to develop a better, less shaming vocabulary. For instance, I loved the fact that the advert used a message from activist Terry Crews: “Men need to hold other men accountable”. But, it seemed all too many men were just fixing on those first few words, or interpreting the message as saying, as LBC presenter Nick Ferrari put it, “most men are sex-crazed, harassing, law-breaking bullies”. We need to talk about the change that’s needed in a way that makes most men buy into it. And we also need to acknowledge the ways in which this about a system that includes all of us, in which most of us collude, and not get too caught up in blame.

For the answer is not in shaming the bad behaviours, but getting behind the good. It lies in focussing on what courage really means, in talking about resilience rather than having a stiff upper lip, in looking at real daring rather than risk-taking, and showing that empathy is not weakness. I can think of no better place to start for that than the work of social scientist Brene Brown, who has done extensive research on courage, vulnerability and shame, and whose book Daring Greatly provides tools we might all want to use regardless of gender.

Interestingly, Brown is also a voice who has drawn attention to the way that women too often say that they want a man who will be vulnerable and open, but reject him when he is. No wonder some men are shunning what Gillette is asking of them. They’ve grown up in a culture that slams them for doing exactly what the advert, and many campaigners and feminists, are asking them to step up and do. If we want them to open up, to be more empathic, to challenge the behaviour of their gang, the worst place to start is in shaming them.

Bring on the driverless car. That’s what I think whenever I start to worry about how much longer my parents will be able to drive. There can’t be many of us whose first reaction to learning that Prince Philip had crashed, rolling his Range Rover as he pulled out of a driveway, wasn’t, ‘What? He’s still driving? At nearly 98?’ Initial coverage had stressed that he was unhurt, though, in the first place there was little mention of the other car which he hit or the welfare of its driver, so that one might be forgiven for thinking he had rolled it all by himself. It seemed not. He had been blinded by the sun and didn’t see the car coming. Naturally, there’s been debate over whether people that age should be allowed to drive - though statistics on road accidents do show that young drivers are far more likely to cause serious crashes than older drivers, and in fact there are drivers older than him, including 265 over the age of 100. But the real question is why is this man still doing it? Why, when he could have a driver take him anywhere, was he behind the wheel? Reports since have said that the Duke of Edinburgh still drives because he values his independence. It speaks of the particular privilege that Philip has – that he is still driving, even when there are others employed to drive him around.