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The Gillette Ad and Its Lessons on Toxic Masculinity & Inclusion

On Jan. 13, 2019, the Gillette shaving company released an ad to the public. The ad portrays men of all ages in different situations, such as bullying and sexual harassment from different time periods, using its normal slogan “The best a man can get,” to questioning “Is this the best a man can get?”

While it’s likely Gillette expected to receive backlash, it was far beyond what they intended. Numerous tweets were fired off on Twitter after the ad was released, both in favor of and disgusted with the ad.

 

Many people have voiced their distaste with the commercial, arguing that the “toxic masculinity” Gillette addresses in their ad is belittling true masculinity and the good men in the world.

As a woman, I am here to talk about the ad and what I believe it is truly addressing.

When I watched the Gillette ad for the first time, tears welled in my eyes. This was the first commercial I had ever seen that I believed was standing up for women and men alike. With the countless accusations of sexual assault and harassment circulating modern media, it felt as though we were making progress.

Many people were upset with the ad, claiming that it downplays masculinity. On the contrary, I believe it does quite the opposite. It showcases the wrongdoings many men commit today, such as sexual harassment and bullying. It goes on to show the faultiness of these actions and teachings to our young children, and how to combat this behavior with what it means to truly be masculine. To me, the ad puts the good men in the world on a pedestal and simply sheds light on the detrimental actions affecting many people today.

As a woman, watching the ad hit home. It’s not uncommon for women to be catcalled, touched inappropriately without consent, or sexually assaulted – and it hasn’t been for decades. However, it is common to teach our children that this is normal. We further reiterate that this behavior is acceptable by clearing charges against rapists and sexual harassers in courts or using the common catchphrase “boys will be boys” to excuse the pressing issues at hand.

Let me say that not all men are bad. I do not believe this is what the ad was insinuating either. I and countless others are surrounded by wonderful men in our lives who have shown us what true masculinity is: kindness, strength to stand up to our enemies and friends alike, equal treatment of everyone and compassion. I believe the ad showcases this without man-hating. The ad simply asks the audience to rethink the actions many today believe equate to masculinity.

I’m not here to say that everything the ad shows was done perfectly. However, Gillette was right to call attention to the problems with societal teachings and actions today. We are not so far from the past if we believe that violence and assault are acceptable forms of behavior; we absolutely need to address these issues as problematic and teach our children the same.

The good men need to keep on keepin’ on. Show the world what true masculinity looks like, and what it means to be, not only a good man, but a good person.

 

Sophomore at Michigan State University studying Communications.
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