The release of Gillette’s commercial centered on “toxic masculinity” was followed by both praise and criticism. While some people saw this advertisement as a way to open up a conversation and hold men accountable, others felt threatened, offended and even boycotted Gillette’s products.
A popular sentiment amongst the boycotters was that the ad was attacking the definition of what it means to be a “man.” This backlash was heavily influenced by men who felt the ad wrongfully portrayed males. Some argued that they didn’t need a commercial to tell them to not bully — but obviously they do.
If you think an attack on sexual harassment and bullying is an attack on manhood, then maybe you do need a reminder that these behaviors are toxic and not synonymous with being “manly.” I can’t understand how anyone can think this commercial is wrong or “stupid,” as many on social media characterized it.
The commercial shows clips of physical assault, sexual harassment and bullying while asking, “Is this the best a man can get?” and calls for more men to work together and hold toxic people accountable. This sounds pretty reasonable to me, and evokes hope towards a better world for everyone — so why are so many people so mad about it?
We can no longer just deny that violence — especially violence against women — are issues that our world has. The culture of “toxic masculinity” narrowly defines what it means to be a man and shames anything that doesn’t fit into that definition.
What this ends up doing is creating generations of men who think that being inappropriate towards women and bullying others is just what guys do, allowing for some men to ignore and excuse violence.
According to FBI reports, in the U.S men account for 80 percent of arrests for violent crimes, 98.9 percent of arrests for rape, and 97 percent of all mass shootings. The link between violence and “toxic masculinity” is undeniable, and the first step towards addressing this issue is acknowledging it — which is exactly what Gillette has done with their ad.
So I can only conclude two things about people who are angry about the commercial or think this issue isn’t of importance. One, they are misunderstanding the issue and are uninformed about how “toxic masculinity” works. Or two, they truly believe violence and the hypersexualization of women are inherent in men, and they have the right to behave this way — the classic “boys will be boys” attitude.
The concern here is whichever group that Gillette’s critics fall under, the toxic behaviors and beliefs of these people are allowing for regressive attitudes about gender and violence to perpetuate in America. Until we can all understand that calling out the bad actions of certain men doesn’t mean that all men are bad, we will continue to see people fighting over commercials like these.
While people toss their Gillette razors down the toilet and fight over their right to be a “man,” the real issue has been buried and misconstrued. We can continue to argue back and forth, but as we do so, someone in America is being brutally beaten, raped or bullied and this won’t change because we ignore it. I am not afraid to say that men can do much better — we all can.
Alyssa majors in urban studies and community development. She is interested in and concerned about issues in Tacoma that impact the community. She is obsessed with all things chocolate and piggies.