So, if you haven’t seen or heard about that Gilette advert yet, you’re probably living under a rock.
It’s fairly rare for me to be fazed when people on the internet these days are either a) shocked, b) angry, c) offended or d) all of the above. It’s a well known fact that to come across any sort of discussion online that hasn’t been latched onto by a bloodsucking, leech-like troll is unusual in the 21st century, and when a sausage roll with no meat in can cause half the online population to descend into a deep state of rage and disgust, it’s difficult to be surprised by anything anymore.
But Gillette have really taken the figurative biscuit withthis one.
So, just so we’re clear here, an advertisement which suggests that men could try to be better is such an oddity that it causes a full blown backlash and calls for a boycott against a leading household brand name. If only we women could know what it feels like to walk in their shoes, eh?
So, what’s the issue with the ad?
The advert focuses on the #MeToo movement, on the women in their droves who have stood up against the rampant institutionalised gender discrimination, sexual assault and sexual harassment which has beentaking place in Hollywood and across the world, in every setting, for decades. It looks at how male violence and, subsequently, bullying are instilled and encouraged at a young age, and how bad behaviour in men and boys is excused under the pretence that ‘boys will be boys’. And overall, it urges that men can be better, that men can be the best they can be by speaking up against these inequalitiesand injustices.
The advert is clearly addressing the issue of ‘ToxicMasculinity’, putting forward the argument that men can fight back against this toxicity by being respectful, decent and just plain nice to women, and othermen.
What’s not to like, right?
Why being a Man is not toxic
The backlash has been largely a result of a huge number of people misunderstanding the point Gilette are attempting to make. Ironically, many men have responded violently to the camapaign, smashing their razors to smithereens to signify their disagreement with Gillette’s insinuation that being a man is toxic, that it’s inherently ‘bad’. Those darn feminazis,at it again!
Except that Gillette aren’t saying being male is toxic or bad at all. Masculinity and Men are not one in the same. Toxic Masculinity refers to the stereotypical social expectations men are held to, like being tough and strong, both emotionally and physically. To be a player, to be a ‘hard lad’, to be a ‘top shagger’ are the roles men should aspire to in order to be acceptable, in order to fit the mold. Men are taught from a young age that boys don’t cry, that men aren’t wimps, and so they bottle it up, and so we end up in a situation where three quarters of deaths by suicide are men.
To be a man is not toxic. In fact, to be masculine is not in itself toxic, either. Enjoying football or pints is not harmful; killing someone with one punch outside a bar because you wanted to act the tough man is harmful. Leaving a girl feeling vulnerable,unsafe or violated because letting go when you’re told ‘no’ is for pussies, is harmful. Hiding feelings of depression or suicidal ideation and ‘”manning up” instead is harmful.
These societal expectations placed on men are toxic, and they harm us all – women, men and children, too. I’m personally very happy to see Gillette targeting such a serious issue, whether for brownie points or out of genuine intent – this issue can only be changed, like the advert demonstrates, with the effort and co-operation and active choice by men to step up to the mark and turn their backs on these limiting, damaging and harmful societal norms.
Forget ‘men who are in touch with their sensitive side’. Men are human, and it’s normal to have emotions that range beyond anger and desire. It’s time we became a society where we no longer limit ourselves to a tiny, society approved box, and normalised the reality that people of all genders can have and express a whole range of emotions, desires, interests, and personality traits.
But, there’s still a little problem, Gillette…
Speaking of embracing a whole host of abilities and traits for everyone, men and women alike, I should sincerely hope Gillette are hoping to follow up their current advertising offering with a similarly empowering female ad. Seeing as their so concerned with fighting the feminist battle, I’d love tosee them tackle the unrealistic expectations that are placed on women, next. After all, their usual offerings normally depict shiny, beautiful, skinny women while they shave their already baby smooth legs on a beach, for some reason. Can’t we have an advert that just asks us to be nice rather than be gorgeous, slim, and miraculously entirely free of any kind of bodily hair, too?
I’d have the whole being nice thing nailed in a heartbeat of course. Ah, yes, that would be becausewe’re already socialised to be non-confrontational and lovely at all times. Got it!
What were your thoughts on the new Gillette advert? Let me know in the comments!
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