Redefining Masculinity: Gillette Ad Controversy

This morning, I learned about the new ad campaign created by Gillette to raise awareness about toxic masculinity in our society. My initial reaction to the ad was a positive one. I was very happy to see that the issue of violence as a prevalent factor of masculinity was being brought to light, and it brought a smile to my face. However, when I looked at the replies to this ad on Twitter, then on Youtube, and began to cringe uncontrollably at vitriolic response Gillette was receiving. many of which varied from “You’re saying all men are bad now?” to “Not buying Gillette ever again” and my personal favorite here:

“Like every other company that wants to get in on the social justice movement that will pay in sails.”

Yeah…. ‘pay in sails’.

I had a bit of a knee-jerk reaction to this on Twitter earlier this morning as I wrote a rant asking why so many men were so quick to, not only deny that a problem exists, but to choose to defend themselves by means of redirecting their hatred on everyone and everything else. From jumping on any excuse to bash on women, to threats of violence, and even complaints that ‘95% of the dudes in this video were white. I guess it’s just the white guys?’. Come on, now.

But I’m finding that there are multiple takes on how this ad campaign is being received. After reading the responses given by many, some being friends of mine, and many that were not, as well as an insightful post from Girl On The Net, I’m convinced it’s probably more of a positive step in the right direction more than anything else. Given the current state of the ad on Youtube (over half a million dislikes) and the slew of promises to never buy their products again, it was probably not the best move from an advertising perspective.

I do understand the appeal of such a campaign, however, as the issue of toxic masculinity is brought further out into the light by men’s health experts and psychologists. It makes sense to make an appeal to the growing demographic of men and women who are working to end bullying, abuse, inequality, sexual harassment, and assault. And the message isn’t even negative to men. To sum it up, the message is: we can be better. We can be the role models our sons need us to be. We only need to be kinder to one another.

Which should say something quite profound about the men and women who, instead, feel attacked and/or threatened.

So what effect does it really have? Well, as GOTN says, it’s a step towards normalizing this behavior in a society that needs it the most. When the next generation of boys grow up to be men, they need positive influences like this to keep them from the toxic reach of the ‘tribes‘ I have mentioned in other posts.

“It takes years to change minds. Decades. It takes a sustained, intense effort to get people to recognise problems, then more sustained, intense effort to get them to agree on solutions and start making change. It takes people and charities and governments and human rights lawyers and protesters and parents quietly getting on with lives that inspire their children. It also takes magazines and newspapers and massive corporations and books and TV shows and adverts. Some of these things will change laws or minds, others might function simply as markers to show us how far we’ve come.”

Girl On The Net

I don’t think I could have said it better than this if I tried! But only time will tell to what effect this campaign will create. But I do hope it inspires others to stand up and make this message heard. Watch the ad campaign, and decide for yourself what it means to you. If you’d like to share your thoughts on this, your comments are always welcome in the comments section below. I’d love to hear from you guys.

5 thoughts on “Redefining Masculinity: Gillette Ad Controversy

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  1. Very interesting (especially since I work in the field of advertising)! I just watched the ad clip and I’m not at all offended by it. But I can see some problems with the ad, so the negative reactions don’t surprise me. I think Gillette’s intentions are good, but I am not att all sure that it will achieve it’s intended effects…

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m not at all offended by it! In fact, I find it refreshing. Reading the YouTube comments for the ad just depresses me…it’s political incorrectness gone mad. An ad which is anti-bullying, anti-catcalling, anti-sexual harassment is considered “too PC”…I’ll let that sink in.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on JL Peridot and commented:
    This, in particular, struck me:

    To sum it up, the message is: we can be better. We can be the role models our sons need us to be. We only need to be kinder to one another.

    Which should say something quite profound about the men and women who, instead, feel attacked and/or threatened.

    Liked by 1 person

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