A new advertisement campaign from men’s grooming major Gillette has taken the internet to storms. As a predominantly male brand, Gillette has been phenomenal in bringing highly sexist ad campaigns even in the past. A previous ad campaign titled – ‘Protest Against Smelly Stubble’ projected men with the beard as smelly and unhygienic. Indian MRAs had to strongly raise an objection against that and finally forced Gillette not only to apologize for the campaign but also to reverse the anti-male campaign into a positive campaign for men.
This new campaign launched worldwide as part of Gillette’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), however, instills some very harmful stereotypes about men and masculinity, that is worth a discussion today.
1. Men Are Guilty of Sexual Harassment
The Gillette ad video starts with a reference to the #MeToo movement of sexual harassment and asks if ‘This is the best a man can get’. #MeToo has been a phenomenal movement of lies that has gone too far in 2018 when women from all walks of life came out with baseless allegations against men in high positions to tarnish their images. This had a long-lasting effect on workplace relationships and women also bore the brunt of it because males stopped mentoring them. Within one year of its start, far too many #MeToo complaints were found to be false with hardly any punishment to those false accusers. The campaign has already proved to be a self-promotional strategy for women on social media rather than a mechanism to seek justice. If you see the pic of Tarana Burke who started the #MeToo movement you will know. Men would rather run away from such women rather than coming closure. Women who can only haunt men in their nightmares claimed to have sexually harassed in the #MeToo campaign.
When the Gillette Ad campaign started with the reference of such a completely baseless and frivolous campaign ran by some drama queens to show toxic masculinity, it reinforced some highly toxic stereotype that men predominantly are busy doing sexual harassment. It is as if men in different positions have no other work but committing sexual crimes against women working with them. In one hand this completely ignores women committing such crimes (toxic femininity) and on the other hand, it ignores the fact that if the majority of men were really busy committing sexual harassment in workplaces, then those corporate could not have succeeded in their core business.
So, even if there are some men guilty of such behavior, that does not prove that masculinity is toxic and teaches us that behavior. Also, by painting all men in the same brush (as if all are criminals) reflects very poorly on the brand Gillette. Especially when it’s the men who are their main consumers.
2. Sexual Harassment and Bullying is Rampant
The Gillette-ad shows scenes of sexual harassment and bullying and states that it’s been going on ‘far too long’. In other words, it reinforces that men are engaged in such behavior for a long time (without any consequences) and that is the main behavior they display. It is as if, this kind of behavior is a regular behavior of men and hence masculinity is toxic. If the world was really so bad, then how did we have survived in this world? The fact that we are still living peacefully, shows that a very high majority of men are not like that. Else every day we would have either committed such act or would have suffered from this. Since we live a peaceful life, it proves that the behavior of some stray men can’t define masculinity and masculinity isn’t toxic as shown in this advert.
3. Men Enjoy Sexual Harassment of Women
Gillette’s ‘We Believe’ video also shows men and boys laughing and enjoying Sexual harassment scenes displaying women as sex objects. This is shown as if men in this world have no other work than committing sexual violence and enjoying the same. Women are shown in videos displaying their sexuality and some young men ogling at them. By showing these scenes, it instills a stereotype that even when women voluntarily display their sexuality, men looking at them becomes a perversion. When the basic reason the two genders exist is to sexually attract each other for the purpose of making the human race survive on the earth; this short film from Gillette shows men as perverts because they commit and enjoy sexual harassment of women whereas we all know that a large majority of men are not like that.
4. Masculinity Means Violence
In order to show what The Best Men Can Be and to show that masculine behavior is toxic, the Gillette video shows that boys fighting with each other is being accepted by the society as ‘Boys Will be Boys’ who will fight it out at every small opportunity. This stereotype in a way shows that the society accepts this violent behavior of boys simply because of gender and promotes the same. Whereas we all know that when we see such street fights between boys we do intervene, most men and women do. There is no society on the earth that accepts such bullying. But a complete lie has been shown on Gillette commercial to shame men and blame masculinity.
This becomes more significant because it is coming from a male brand when human history showed us how this same valiant behavior of human males helped the human race survive all odds. They fought wild animals, fought with beasts, natural calamities due to ‘this’ character of fighting. But this nature of human males is shown as harmful and toxic and also shown as the prevalent negative characteristics of males, as if they don’t have any positive traits or as if masculinity has only led to unnecessary violence.
5. Males Should Hate Masculinity
When it comes to showing the path for the future generation, this Gillette commercial shows Terry Crews telling that “males should hold other males accountable”. This in a way reinforces the feminist ideology – ‘All violence is male generated’. A very shrewd statement to shame males, this statement in Gillette ad reconfirms that it’s only the males who need to be blamed for all violence.
If #MeToo movement has done anything to us, it has shown how these feminist men are the real sexual predators. In India, prominent writer Chetan Bhagat who was in the headlines for keeping fast for his wife and promoting women rights; was later found to be wooing other women in a personal chat and harassing them. Another feminist male associated with a degrading Indian TV show All India Bokchod was found to be calling women in his hotel room and sending them pics of his penis. He was also associated with feminist media Vice and took MRA interviews to expose them. Many other male feminists including ‘Pink’y Amitabh Bachchan was exposed.
What these male feminists promoted in this Gillette ad is that this masculine stereotype and men following masculinity are dangerous to the society and it’s the men who need to fight against other men, basically create a self-hating attitude in men. This instills the same behavior of violence (that is shown as toxic masculinity) to fight against masculine males. Now we need to understand that violence may not be always physical violence but creating a hateful society where males are forced to be ashamed of their own gender, is also a form of violence that the Gillette ad film reinforces.
6. Most Males Don’t Behave
This Gillette Film shows that most males don’t act the right way or say the right thing. Most males don’t display the right behavior and only ‘some’ are behaving properly. This statement belittles the male gender to an insensible bunch of predators only ‘few’ of whom are sensible. The largest bunch of males out there who enjoy sexual harassment, bullying and street fights of young children, need to behave now.
It also says, that ‘some’ (sensible men) is not enough. This is another reinforcement of the point that the majority of males are ill-behaved, violent and sexual predators.
7. Masculinity is Harmful to The Boys
The video, The Best Men Can Be, shows that boys are watching dangerous traits of masculinity and learning the same and tomorrow when they grow big, they will follow this toxic masculine behavior (the non acceptable behavior). In a way, Gillette shows negative behavior of some negligible portion of the society and shows that as generic behavior of masculine males and teaches our boys to hate their gender early in life by promoting males in negative ways. Not only boys, Gillette ad film is seen by girls as well. So, what Gillette wanted to reinforce to our younger generation was that males and masculinity are harmful to society. So that this can lead to more hatred for men in the future.
The masculinity that is shamed in this Gillette commercial is used extensively when the need is to die on the battlefield, perform heroic acts or save mankind from a natural disaster. The masculinity that is shamed so much by Gillette is used for scientific discoveries, exploring the universe and achieving great new heights for ages. These are however not the best masculine qualities for Gillette, so they didn’t show these positive qualities that help us thrive. They showed masculinity in a negative way so that boys who are watching them start hating their identity from the very beginning of their lives.
In a similar way when girls watch this ad, this reinforces a sense that boys are bad and they have these negative traits. So, in a way when both genders start hating males, it’s only the males who will be in danger. But will that be helpful for civilization? Can we afford to vilify 50% of the population when it is the same population who is the reason the human race is surviving all odds?
Lastly, if you find any problem with replacing Gillette because they may be holding too big a global share of twin safety razor blades. You may want to boycott all P&G products because it’s P&G that has a history of creating such misandric campaigns to undermine men.
Did you know –
Many Twin blade brands are in tie up with Gillette for manufacturing of their products. So, you may want to #BoycottGillette but in reality you may be supporting them in some other way.
Addition in April 2019 –
Result of a worldwide protest against Gillette ad –
Gillette’s 2019 first-quarter earnings dropped and it was the worse performer in all P&G brands. Also, Gillette went back to their original tagline and dumped the newly invented feminist tagline in the sexist ad – “The Best Men Can Be”. Here is the screenshots of their from a February 2019 ad for Gillette Deodorant –