Gillette: The Best a Man Can Get, Huh?
"But by far the worst thing we do to males—by making them feel they have to be hard—is that we leave them with very fragile egos. The harder a man feels compelled to be, the weaker his ego is." - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Gillette, known for their overly priced men’s shaving tools, decided to ring in 2019 with an interesting commercial – or “short film”, as they put it – decrying toxic masculinity and calling for men to do better and be better.
Pretty basic, right?
I didn’t mind Gillette’s attempt to latch onto the “me too” conversation by redefining their 30-year slogan, “The Best a Man Can Get”. Yet, I was more than shocked to find that once I scrolled down the YouTube video that the video had received more dislikes than likes (1.2 million dislikes at the time of writing, to be exact).
What….? I watched the video again and still, the message was pretty basic. And so, I ventured into the comments (aka cesspool of toxic masculinity).
So many people – mostly men (surprise!) – were expressing some form of the following:
- That the video grossly generalized the male population
- That the video isolated and targeted their primary consumer-base…men
- That the video was discriminatory against white men because it used white male actors to display negative male traits and black males to display positive ones (lol)
- That they were boycotting Gillette products due to this video; some even went as far as to call for a boycott of Gillette’s father company, Proctor and Gamble (puhleasseee…watch you slather on that Gillette shaving cream tomorrow morning)
- That they have never heard another male (or never used themselves) use the phrase “boys will be boys” and that it was actually women who said these things (yes, let’s decenter the conversation and blame women, why don’t we…)
Looks like the video hit a nerve…but why?
I’m sitting here wondering, if toxic masculinity doesn’t apply to you, why would you get worked up about a 1:48 minute video with a decent message? Tell me how this video got all the toxic males (plug your noses) to came out of the woodwork to let the world know that they’d now be using BIC razors (because we care, right?).
I mean, yes, a major company virtue signaling (like Nike did with Kaepernick), almost always has to do with $$$ rather than actual advocacy for a better world. However, what the video did was simply call for men to begin to hold each other accountable for TOXIC masculinity that puts the lives and wellbeing of women, children and other men at risk each and every single day. Let’s be clear: this isn’t an attack on masculinity in and of itself, but rather toxic masculinity which is defined as:
“A social science term that describes narrow repressive type of ideas about the male gender role, that defines masculinity as exaggerated masculine traits like being violent, unemotional, sexually aggressive, and so forth…” (UrbanDictionary.com)
To manage to find offense at that is super disturbing.
Men, be decent human beings. Raise your sons right. Leverage your masculinity for good. Reach into yourself and become a compassionate, empathic male. Whether you choose to use Gillette products or not will not encompass the work needed for you to shed the chains of toxic masculinity that have enslaved you to a narrow and limiting definition of what it actually means to be a man. Do women need to do work in this arena too – of course…but that’s not what this discussion is about.
Oh, and if as a man, this video is the sole reason you’ve ever given attention to the concept of toxic masculinity and have made an uproar – not the countless examples of male harassment towards women, domestic violence, honour killings, sex-targeted murders, male-driven wars, and countless stories of abuse at the hands of men – then you, “sir”, should do those around you a favour and purchase them hazmat suits because you’re about as toxic as they get.
Article by a guest writer.