Gillette’s new advert sparks fresh debate on masculinity

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Men’s safety razor and personal care company Gillette on Monday released a new advertisement in reference to toxic masculinity and the Me Too movement.

“Boys will be boys”? Isn’t it time we stopped excusing bad behavior? Re-think and take action by joining us.”

“Bullying, the MeToo movement against sexual harassment, toxic masculinity, is this the best a man can get?” says a voice over in the advertisement.

The video shows behaviours that fall under the rubric of toxic masculinity, showcasing men engaging in needless aggression or violence, examples of sexual harassment, and a set of poor behaviours dismissed as “boys will be boys”.

The company expanded its 30-year old tagline from “the best a man can get” to “the best men can be”.

The advert shows other incidents as well, showing a man stopping his friend from sexually harassing a woman on a street. While in other scenes shows men acting against catcalling.

Perhaps more importantly, the advert also encourages viewers, especially men, to ensure they set a better example to young children – boys who will grow up to be men themselves.

The video immediately went viral on social media, attracting more than two million views within two days. However, it drew both intense criticism and support.

English journalist Piers Morgan took to twitter to criticise the clip.

“NEW: Let’s be clear: Gillette now wants every man to take one of their razors & cut off his testicles,” he tweeted.

He later tweeted again, “Let boys be damn boys & men be damn men – and stop this damaging war on masculinity”.

Other celebrities also jumped in to share their views on the matter.

“Insulting most of your own customers by insinuating they’re all would-be sexual abusers & creeps has to be one of the most original marketing campaigns in decades,” tweeted Youtuber Paul Joseph Watson.

Australian journalist Andrew P. Street took to twitter as well.

“The comments under the Gillette toxic masculinity ad is a living document of how desperately society needs things like the Gillette toxic masculinity ad.” he said.

“Seriously: if your masculinity is THAT threatened by an ad that says we should be nicer then you’re doing masculinity wrong.”

“Anyone that thinks this is an attack on men needs to revisit what masculinity really means, because to me it means being a good person and demanding respect for those around you regardless of what junk they have,” tweeted a user.

“Ah yes, because if they show emotion and compassion and stand up for others, they’re babies. If you legitimately think this, you’re a part of the problem.”

“The Gillette ad clearly calls out sexual harassment and bullying, and says ‘Some men are already doing fine.’ Yet tons of men are still going to take it as an attack on ‘normal male behaviour,’ and will interpret it as ‘painting ALL men with a wide brush.’ Priceless,” another user said.

The company also responded to some of the comments on its post.

“This is an important conversation happening in the public discourse about men–a group that we’ve worked to serve for 115+ years. We have a responsibility to make sure we’re promoting positive versions of what it means to be a man.”

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