Oh Dear, This Gillette Ad Addressing Toxic Masculinity Has Offended 'Men's Rights Activists'

Masculinity is so fragile.

Gillette engages #MeToo and addresses toxic masculinity in their new advertisement: “The Best Men Can Be”. The shaving company’s commercial presents the idea of a different kind of masculinity, one where men hold each other accountable. While the ad (which you can watch below) has gotten a lot of praise, it’s also offended ‘men’s rights activists’ who have called for a boycott of the company. As the ad continues to go viral, fragile male egos are being bruised and toxic men are revealing themselves on social media.

The ad includes scenes of sexism (in the workplace, on TV, on the street), harassment, bullying as well as men intervening in these situations and calling each out. The ad also problematises the excuse many use for inappropriate and misogynistic behaviour: “boys will be boys”. The ad portrays two kinds of men: those who are toxic and those who step up and call out toxic behaviour.

Instead of the usual chisel-jawed close-up, the ad paints a picture of what “a new era of masculinity” could look like if more men stepped up. While it is just an advert (designed to keep the brand relevant like all adverts are), it is also a bold move for a corporate like Gillette to make, particularly given their target market. The ad certainly opens up the conversation about misogyny, abuse and ego. Gillette is generally known as an extremely popular men’s brand, and for this company to redefine masculinity is powerful simply because of the broad reach of the ad, which cannot be overlooked.

Essentially, the ad asks men to be decent human beings, celebrating those who are, and yet, some men are so affronted by the ad, they’re calling for a boycott. Men’s rights activists and conservatives have called for a boycott of the company Proctor&Gamble which owns Gillette, complaining that the Gillette advert ’emasculates men’. Actor and Donald Trump supporter, James Woods, has joined the boycott, saying that Gillette is “jumping on the ‘men are horrible’ campaign”.

TV presenter Pierce Morgan also announced he’d be boycotting Gillette since he considers the ad to be fuelling a global “assault on masculinity”:

According to GQ, men’s rights organisation, A Voice for Men, (which has been classified as a hate group) has also urged its supporters to boycott the brand.

Company president, Gary Coombe, says that: “For us, the decision to publicly assert our beliefs while celebrating men who are doing things right was an easy choice that makes a difference.”

Gillette’s new ad has also been celebrated and received a lot of praise. Bernice King (daughter of Martin Luther King) voiced her view, saying, “This commercial isn’t anti-male, it’s pro-humanity”.

For those demanding to “let boys be damn boys, let men be damn men” when a critical eye is finally taken to the industry’s long history of male-targeted adverts (including Gillette’s very own) that praise hyper-masculinity and celebrate the objectification and sexualization of women, it would seem that they are proving the ad’s exact point: that toxic masculinity is real and those behaviours are deeply embedded in masculine culture.

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