EDITORIAL: Gillette commercial confronts toxic men

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On Jan. 13 Gillette released an ad unrelated to razors. 

The premise of the commercial gave Americans another controversy to rally around.

The under two-minute video starts by posing the question: “Is this the best a man can get? Is it?”

Images of sexual harassment, objectification and bullying run under narrative about “making the same old excuses” and “boys will be boys” before declaring: “But something finally changed. And there will be no going back.” 

The ad, now seen by nearly 28 million on YouTube alone, pushed back on stereotypes of toxic masculinity and featured men acting as positive role models, including stopping catcalling and breaking up fights. 

Those opposed to the advertisement accuse Gillette of dismantling masculinity in our society, while others argue toxic masculinity is a problem worth addressing.

The belief of The Collegian is toxic masculinity emcompasses the following: a lack of consequences for men’s violent actions, emotional suppression through ridicule, peer pressure, selective hearing, gaslighting, blatant disregard of boundaries and more. 

Although Gillette clearly addressed the need for “men to hold other men accountable,” the opposition found a way to bring anti-gun control ideals to the comment section of YouTube, which is is vitriolic. 

On the YouTube version of the “short film,” as it is called by Gillette, comments run mostly negative:

“Thanks for the moral advice, multi-national company that was recently caught profiting off forced child labor [sic] and price fixing.”

“Are you ready for a magic trick? Poof goes the sales.”

This is an example of selective hearing as a toxic trait. 

Instead of addressing the message put forth by Gillette, men and women deflect and victimize themselves through an unrelated topic in order to create a deeper divide.

The platform a company like Gillette possesses has the ability to strike at our social consciousness. It is expanding upon the conversation started by the #MeToo movement and paving the way for young men and boys in America.

Men should be held accountable for their actions.

If we teach our children that from the beginning, similar to what the father breaking up a fight in the video is doing, we’ll have a society that has respectful men as the norm while breaking gender stereotypes. 

When will we no longer accept “boys will be boys” and begin to question whether men will be held accountable for their actions?

Now is the time, suggests Gillette not so subtly.

The video ends on that note: “It’s only by challenging ourselves to do more that we can get closer to our best.”