By Callia Gilligan
Gillette, a well-known Boston-based razor company, has recently put out a new commercial that does not feature razors. Instead, it draws attention to the idea of toxic masculinity.
If you haven’t already seen the video, watch it here.
What is toxic masculinity? While there are many different ways to describe the idea, at its root it is the notion of what it means to be a “real” man. This could mean not showing emotions, having a belligerent nature or having dominion over things. It is often believed that because the idea of being a “man” is so important, men act hostile or extra aggressive and repress their emotions. The Gillette commercial featured this idea and went into depth about how toxic masculinity influences societal norms for men.
There are many opinions on this commercial. Some say it was a way to call out men and make them feel ashamed. Others argue that it perfectly addresses a serious problem in our culture. Some are angry at the fact that the ad focuses on politics instead of razors. While everyone’s opinion is valuable and deserves to be heard, I’d like to share mine.
I personally thought the commercial was well-done and addressed issues that we as a country face. It talks about how society often uses the phrase “boys will be boys” to excuse aggressive or inappropriate behavior. Not only did it address toxic masculinity, but I thought it did a great job of addressing topics like victim shaming. People, specifically women, go through a lot to avoid getting sexually harassed. We are taught to not walk alone at night, to not wear suggestive clothing, to train ourselves so we’ll be able to defend ourselves if ever needed. This commercial reversed that by making the point that behaviors such as cat-calling make people feel the need to protect themselves. It drew notice to the fact that this behavior will always be the attacker’s fault, never the victim’s. I also though the commercial did a really could job of addressing the societal norms that men and women are expected to uphold. I feel like some feminists can get a little to obsessed with the adversities that women face and ignore the fact that men can face similar ones.
Many people say that the commercial was unfair because it pointed fingers at men and made them feel poorly of themselves. While I do see where this point was coming from, I would like to draw attention to the decades of commercials that have sexualized or objectified women. Rather than exposing the problems with those conventional ideas, those commercials gave into them, making women feel poorly of themselves.
Overall, whether you liked or disliked the commercial, I think it deserves thought. I feel it calls attention to behaviors and norms in society that shouldn’t exist. It’s important to ask yourself: do you ever see, participate in or experience this behavior? If so, what are you going to do about it?
I congratulate Gillette for acknowledging the power of its media presence. They took a risk, making a commercial they knew might anger some, in order to spark a conversation — and maybe even a change — in society.