Confronting toxic masculinity one shave at a time?

On Jan. 13, the ignorance that plagues society as a whole reared its head and created a great deal of controversy. The controversy that presented itself arose from a Gillette commercial entitled The Best Men Can Be. Taking a look at the short film, the video was harmless and simply advocated for men to treat other men kindly and to not sexually objectify women.

It didn’t ask men to wear pink or behave in a feminine manner. It didn’t ask men to dress in women’s clothing or to raise the pitch of their voice. And it certainly did not ask men to be women. It simply addressed an issue that has not been addressed since the dawn of gender roles; the concept of boys will be boys.

The antiquated saying of boys will be boys is one that has proven to be harmful. The harm this saying poses is inclusive as it harms men, women, the young, old and people from all walks of life. Boys will be boys essentially erases a boy or man’s ability to be held accountable for making a bad decision.

The same holds true for if one states girls will be girls. As a young woman, I would rather be held accountable for my actions as opposed to being relieved of my wrong doing via the saying girls will be girls. If I were to talk about another woman behind her back like many other women have done in the past, that would still be wrong. Girls will be girls isn’t the solution.

Those who strongly opposed the commercial responded with a great deal of negativity to the extent that one would think they had watched an entirely different commercial. One critic stated that “The problem with the ad is its premise is insulting – the premise is that all men are bad somehow and need correcting. It’s actually quite offensive to men. Why are they lecturing us?! Most men are good. I will join the boycott”.

In response to this, it must be said that this ad did not say all men and it did not seek to attack men. It was a response to the minority of men who mistreat one another or make women feel uncomfortable. I am the first to say that the vast majority of men are kind and amazing people but some men have acted in oppositional ways that this ad seeks to speak to.

In other words, if the commercial doesn’t apply to you, change the channel and continue being an amazing person, it is not directed towards you. English journalist, television host, and writer Piers Morgan has shared similar attitudes. He states that “I’ve used Gillette razors my entire adult life but this absurd virtue-signalling PC guff may drive me away to a company less eager to fuel the current pathetic global assault on masculinity. Let boys be damn boys. Let men be damn men.”

In terms of the last part, I couldn’t agree more. Let boys be boys and men be men as long as that does not mean mistreating other men or women. If the definition of men and boys are not in line with toxic masculinity, let boys be boys and men be men.

The fact that such a harmless commercial has created a whirlwind of controversy suggests that either the diction used initiated a natural defense mechanism in men or some men and women actually believe that men should objectify women and that letting young men fight one another and learn toxic behaviors is a good thing.

The bottomline is that this commercial speaks to a minority of men and if it does not apply to you change the channel and continue being an amazing person.