Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Gillette's toxic masculinity ad isn't the problem; toxic masculinity is the problem


Gillette is facing a lot of praise, and a lot of backlash, over its recent ad slamming toxic masculinity culture.


The ad offers two views of men.

The first—a boy bullied and called a "sissy," a man grabs at a woman's rear, a businessman condescending to a female employee. During, a voice over notes that men make the same ol' "Boys Will Be Boys" excuses.

Then, vignettes of men doing better—intervening to stop sexual harassment, being attentive fathers to their daughters, promoting peace over violence.

The tagline: "Bullying. Harassment. Is this the best a man can get? It's only by challenging ourselves to do more, that we can get closer to our best. To say the right thing, to act the right way."

This message should not be controversial. But it has been. Very.

Fox News pundit Greg Gutfeld: "It’s almost as if the people who make products for men, hate men!"

Piers Morgan: "The subliminal message is clear: men, ALL men, are bad, shameful people who need to be directed in how to be better people."

A slew of folks on Twitter who are calling for people to #BoycottGillette.

Here's the thing. Gillette's add calling for an end to toxic masculinity isn't the problem. Toxic masculinity is the problem.

We men can, should, and must do better. #MeToo isn't a catchphrase, it's a philosophy. Equality should not be controversial. And yet, it is. Until we men do better—until we stop bullying those we see as weak or un-masculine, until we stop grabbing and groping, until we stop condescending to those who we view as different or weaker, and start treating women as equals, intervening to stop harassment, and being better role models—harassment and discrimination will continue to plague our society and our workplaces.

I fully recognize that a sizeable portion of my readers will take issue with my stance on this commercial and this issue. And that's okay. The ad is designed to spark debate. So let's have a debate. Defend your position that the ad insults men. Without debate nothing will change. And on issues of gender equality and sexual harassment, change is long overdue.

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