Past Meetup

This House Opposes the 'Toxic Masculinity' Message Exemplified by Gillette Ad

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If you’re interested in being a Speaker or moderator for this event, please let the event organizer, Roy Ferreira know through Meetup.

Gillette’s new razor blade commercial doesn’t show a single man shaving. It opens with men of different ages looking at their faces introspectively in the mirror, but then shatters the classic tagline of “The Best that a Man Can Get” with scenes of classic ‘toxic’ masculinity. Boys wrestling and fighting at a cookout, bullies chasing a boy down the street, scenes of men demeaning and catcalling women to watching audiences of guffawing and dismissive men. It then urges men to “say the right thing, act the right way”, showing alternative scenes of men being protective of children and standing-up to men who demean and objectify women. A new tagline, “The Best a Man Can Be” urges social change in the interests of boys who “will be the men of tomorrow”. The company’s foray into social messaging and the #MeToo movement garnered it national media attention, and widespread controversy.

Critics decry the ad as yet another piece of corporate messaging that berates and belittles men and boys. At best, men are shown as bumbling idiots, like the stereotypical row of men standing behind their grills and mindlessly mouthing the phrase “Boys will be Boys”. At worst, males are portrayed as routinely misogynist, cruel and violent. Basically they are inherently bad. Out in the real world, many men and especially boys, are taking this messaging to heart, seeing themselves as inferior beings. Boys increasingly lag behind girls in college attendance, have higher rates of suicide and are more likely to live at home with their parents well into adulthood. On the other hand, men often take the most dangerous jobs, fight our country’s wars, and – when given a chance – excel in many fields of endeavor, like science and technology. Their achievements are ignored and glossed-over, while they are chastised for behavior that does not conform to feminist standards - in this case those of the feminist director of the ad.

Supporters of the ad point to the shocking statistics of sexual harassment and violence committed by men (mostly against women, but also against other men), as reasons for the urgent reform of male behavior. Patriarchal societies have at best turned a blind-eye towards these harmful behaviors, dismissing them as “Boys will be Boys”, shrugging their shoulders as women are routinely demeaned and attacked. Unchecked masculinity has been responsible for untold violence, wars and massacres in human history. Its past time for reform! Men are certainly capable of caring and nurturing behavior, and boys need new role models to emulate. As Whoopi Goldberg points out on her show, “The View”, the message in Gillette’s ad is merely "Don't be a jerk!”, something that everyone, men and women alike should espouse to. Sounds simple enough!

What do you think? Join us at the Mechanics Institute Library as we debate this explosive and very timely topic. A $5 fee will be charged at the door.

To view the ad: