January 19, 2019

Gillette’s “Toxic Masculinity Ad” Exposes Nicks in the Fabric of our Society.


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A new ad by razor manufacturer Gillette bashing toxic masculinity has some viewers cheering and others vowing to boycott the company’s products.

The “We Believe” ad begins with a twist on Gillette’s famous tagline, “The best a man can get.”

A narrator asks, “Is this the best a man can get?” as scenes of sexual harassment, cyber-bullying, and workplace inequality unfold.

“We can’t hide from it. It’s been going on far too long,” the narrator says. “We can’t laugh it off, making the same old excuses.” The viewer watches as a line of men stand outside grilling, arms folded, chanting, “Boys will be boys” in unison.

“But something finally changed,” the narrator continues as the ad displays news coverage of the #MeToo movement. “And there will be no going back. Because we—we believe in the best in men. To say the right thing, to act the right way. Some already are,” he says as we watch men interrupt sexual harassment and bullying. Another man holds his female toddler up, teaching her to say, “I am strong.”

But some is not enough. Because the boys watching today will be the men of tomorrow,” the ad ends with a series of close-ups of boys’ faces.

While many have spoken out to praise the ad, the reception has been controversial.

The ad, which has garnered more than 21 million views on YouTube, currently has more than one million dislikes—twice as many as its likes.

Some outraged viewers are threatening to boycott Gillette’s products.

Others are seizing the opportunity to point out long-standing gender inequalities:

With many men coming forward to provide guidance, such as:

And, as always, the controversy has inspired humor on social media:

and this gem:

What do you think after watching the ad?

A positive sign of the times and a critique of the patriarchy, rather than men as a whole? Or condescending?

We welcome your mindful comments below.

author: Lynn Shattuck

Image: Gillette / Facebook

Image: Elephant Journal on Instagram

Editor: Julie Balsiger

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gillianuseag Jan 21, 2019 1:36pm

I have watched this twice, and am female. I have tried to think about how this would offend a man. None of the staged vignettes shows really bad behavior that I know many women and girls have been subjected to really. A lot worse could have been re-enacted.
I think many men’s awareness has been raised through my lifetime (over 60 years), and much of my life was spent around the military, that can range from constant denigration and abuse to abusive levels of protection and control…I think things have improved a lot. Yet the present Administration seems to ooze discrimination and even hate from every pure, much of it racist, but much also anti-female and against handicapped, immigrants, and LGBT persons… So perhaps the recently-reawakened prejudices are who we see complaining… ..I did not find the commercial offensive.
As a mental health professional and classroom teacher the last 40 years though, I must day, with absentee dads the last 20-30 years, and women raising so many boys alone, or being their primary parent,I have to wonder why so many still feel women are inferior, and want them denigrated… I have no answer.

Melissa Peterson Jan 20, 2019 11:18am

I don’t understand why some men are getting so angry about this. If the “stereotype” doesn’t fit you, then why take it personally? There are a lot of good, caring men out there, and there are some insensitive jerks. Bravo to the good ones; may they set a great example for young boys and young men!!

Caroldean Jude Jan 20, 2019 9:09am

Why not have an ad that shows an alternative to the stereotypical depiction of male behavior? I think it is a positive to show that real men can be caring, vulnerable and make choices that support and elevate humanity. We are all on this journey together as equals not adversaries – right!?

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Lynn Shattuck

Lynn Shattuck lives in Portland, Maine with her husband and two young children. Lynn is currently writing a memoir about her brother’s death. She writes about grief, parenting, imperfection, spirit, and truth telling—you can connect with her through her website or find her on Facebook.