Early last week I started hearing about an online commercial from Gillette; the popular shaving and personal care products brand. I guess I wasn’t paying close attention, because the only words that registered were ‘MeToo” and ‘backlash’; and the only clip that was played was ‘boys will be boys’. I spent days thinking it was women who were unhappy with the commercial. As a female who has mixed feelings about what the #MeToo movement has come to represent, I didn’t take the time to watch the commercial until Friday, and honestly, I couldn’t figure out why women were upset. I thought the ad had, for the most part, an upbeat and positive message. Now I admit to being slightly naïve to political and social issues because I am not particularly in the ’know’. It wasn’t until I posted my thoughts on my personal Facebook page that I realized it was the men who were so upset with the commercial. I have since had a few conversations with male friends of mine and I wanted to share my (and their) observations.
I am all in favor of men being men. I’m a fan of testosterone and masculinity. I kept hearing the term ‘toxic masculinity’ thrown around when discussing the ad and to be honest, I had to listen to the commercial four times before I heard it in the first two seconds as one of three sound bites played almost over top of each other. That phrase angers men, and I understand. It is their masculinity that sets them apart and defines them. They are proud of it, and they should be. Masculinity in and of itself is not toxic, nor should it be ridiculed, demeaned or watered down. It should be appreciated and valued. Now, that does NOT mean men should use their strength or position to intimidate, belittle, abuse or humiliate. In fact, those characteristics are not qualities of true men to begin with. Real men respect women and appreciate their worth and contribution.
Many men feel the commercial paints all men as lecherous pigs and bullies. I absolutely do not believe that statement is true, nor did I personally walk away with that impression, but I’m not a guy. I did think the point was made that there have always been those who behaved badly and many got away with it. I think the message of the ad was that the time has come to hold those who conduct themselves that way accountable and take it a step further and better educate the youth coming behind us. That does NOT mean that no one is raising their sons correctly today. It just simply serves as a reminder that there are multiple influences today on children of both genders, and as parents/guardians, we owe it to all of them to present the loudest and best message and example in front of them. There is a line that says, “The boys watching today (the news, social media, the internet) will become the men of tomorrow.” It’s hard to argue with that statement. But it applies for the other side as well. It also goes without saying, that there is very bad behavior on the side of women as well. No one gender is free of fault and there are enough stones to throw if that is the goal. MY goal, is to try and focus on the positive and meaningful.
There is also disgust among some men that as a gender they have all fallen on the sword for the acts of a few. They feel the slant in today’s dialog wants to empower women while weakening men. It is a shame that some believe those are mutually exclusive; that you can’t have one without the other. I do believe women have a voice. I believe they should be honored on their merit and contribution. I do not think they should be objectified or made to feel inferior. But the answer to achieving those goals is not to discount the male role/gender in society. We have to find a way to co-exist and produce the best from each other.
The last criticism is that a company who makes shaving cream should not become a part of this social commentary. Their job is to produce quality razors and skin-softening creams. I don’t necessarily disagree with that logic. There is something for staying in your lane and doing what you are good at. I am not blind to the financial angle for the company either. Their slogan, after all, is about men being the best they can. Someone in their marketing team obviously had a lightbulb moment and put their slogan together with today’s climate and voila! It remains to be seen if the boycotts and vocalized displeasure will hurt their bottom line, but at the end of the day, I doubt it.
My Hopefuls, after listening to both guys and gals regarding this commercial, it is obvious that strong reactions exist and there are valid points for both sides. My message for you today, though, is to not focus on the actions of a few or the actions of a corporation. My message is to focus on being the best YOU that you can be. Spread joy. Show kindness. Be an example, not to a specific gender, but to the entire human race, of decency, loyalty and respect. Don’t waste your time being angry at the misunderstandings or misstatements of a few. Own your space. Own your worth.
There is a line in the commercial that states “We believe in the best in men.” I’d like to change that a bit.
I BELIEVE IN THE BEST IN ALL OF US!
And as always...
Hope With Abandon