This controversial Gillette ad is causing a stir at the moment. Many men are viewing it as an attack on their manhood, but why?
The ad features a voiceover which at one point says "we believe in the best in men", yet thousands of people are taking to social media to condemn Gillette and proclaim that they are throwing out their razors in favour of a more 'man friendly' brand. Ignoring the absolute devastation this is going to cause the environment with all of those razors going to landfill, aren't we all missing the point?
The ad depicts men participating in traditionally masculine behaviours. It points out that these behaviours are in many ways actually harmful towards others, especially other men, and are perpetuating a certain archetype of masculinity that is rather outdated.
The ad suggests that this type of masculinity is not allowing men to be "the best they can be". And we agree.
It then suggests that the archetype of masculinity that should be promoted are the men who step in and seek to change these behaviours.
Why are people so upset about this? Someone or some brand suggesting a way to improve ourselves, and therefore our society, our sons and our daughters should be applauded. They are highlighting the growing need for men to speak up when they know something is not okay.
This isn't an attack on manhood. It's an attack on false manhood. The kind that has bred a culture that has made it ok to follow women down the street, ok to talk to the waitress in that way, ok to teach our sons that this behaviour is synonymous with being a man.
So, what actually is "manhood" and why do we feel threatened when someone asks us to be better?
Manhood can be defined in many ways. Being strong, unwavering or competitive are all traits of traditional masculinity that, when used in moderation, can benefit a mans life immensely. But there are some not so desirable traits of traditional manhood that, in my mind, are behind the backlash here. As men we are not "supposed" to be vulnerable, and so when we feel attacked, we respond with aggression. As men we are not "supposed" to be ashamed of ourselves or our behaviours, and so when we feel shamed, we respond with aggression. We accuse others. Anything to not admit that we were wrong, admit defeat. THAT would certainly not be "manly",
For all of us, when someone challenges us to be better or tells us that the way we have identified ourselves in the past is doing harm, we may feel attacked and hurt. But we can't loose track of the bigger picture here., We need to put our egos to the side. We need to do better.
I'll be the first to say that I've been in situations where I should have stepped in but didn't. I feel ashamed and sad that I haven't been more aware and attentive. Been more bold. From now on I will be the one to stand up, no matter how awkward it feels. No more.
There is nothing more masculine than a man that holds himself to the standard of being a decent human being.