Gillette asked a question.

What makes a man? That seems to be the question that is being stirred up by the new Gillette advertisement that has people making arguments for and against the message that is being portrayed. It’s pretty surprising how offended some men are about the commercial and then there’s others who seem relieved that someone finally said something out loud about the stereotype of being a man. Most women seem to be happy with the commercial unless it’s an extreme feminist group because then they’re not happy with anything. Yes, that was a direct dig at extreme, radical feminist groups.

If you haven’t seen the video here’s the link. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koPmuEyP3a0

I recommend watching it before we move on because otherwise some of what I say could be taken out of context. There seems to be a trend with mega companies lately. They want to be heard on more than just their product. They want their product to portray a social image that people can relate to rather than just being an inanimate, yet functional object. Nike used Kaepernick as their social bridge. Look at the backlash they received for that. The backlash and boycotts worked so well that Nike’s stock actually skyrocketed. It wasn’t going to be long before another company followed suit. Enter Gillette.

Gillette is asking “Is this the best a man can be?”. Many men are very offended by that question and even more offended by the images they see in the video. There’s claims that Gillette is attacking the “non-issue” of masculinity. Depending on what side of the fence you’re on masculinity may or may not be an issue in this society. Are you a man that always has to prove how much of a man you are? If so, chances are you don’t think there’s a masculinity issue in this country. I’m not sure if I want to label it as a masculinity issue, but there’s definitely issues with sexism and common decency. The reason I want to stay away from calling it a masculinity issue is because being masculine isn’t a crime. Being a broad shouldered man with a beard who likes to drink whiskey, hunt, and drive pick up trucks doesn’t automatically make you a sexist douche bag who also likes to start bar fights. But it does define you as being masculine by most definitions of the word.

Here’s what I like about what the commercial addresses. This is going to be broken down in to many paragraphs so settle in. At the beginning of the video a mother holds her crying child while staring at a screen as the child gets bullied through social media. That helpless look that a mother has when she doesn’t know how to protect her child is powerful and most men won’t see that, but every mother will. That feeling of helplessness is an issue that needs to be addressed in our society because we can’t allow it to continue. We can’t allow children to be threatened and told to kill themselves and then tell the parents that nothing can be done. Something needs to be done because it is out of control. Every day we’re hearing about kids who aren’t even teenagers yet succumbing to suicide because they were being severely bullied online. Yet there’s people saying that the person who killed themselves shouldn’t go online then. Really? The person being bullied should just stay off social media? They aren’t the ones abusing it. They are a victim. The people abusing it should be staying offline. I know we have a right to free speech, but we also have a right to life and the pursuit of happiness. When you’re bullying another person you’re infringing on their life and pursuit of happiness and you need to be dealt with accordingly. If that means the individuals doing the bullying are censored on social media then so be it.

The next clip is a few boys sitting on the couch flipping through channels and it quickly shows different situations of men on TV shows objectifying women and the audience laughs and applauds. The point that people are missing here is that those boys will mimic what they’ve seen. Whether they mimic what they’ve seen consciously or subconsciously they’ll eventually become what they know and see. If it’s the “norm” to objectify women then how would we expect them to turn out any other way? How many times do we see a boy who has been abused or watched his mother get abused then turn in to an abuser in their adult life? It happens all too often. How many times do we see children from smoking households turn in to children and adults who smoke? A lot! Boys are easily influenced. The ages of 5-12 are so important for boys. So many major changes happen during those years and it’s important that they know how to deal with them. It’s also important that they are taught how to react to difficult situations during that time as well. Make them feel comfortable talking about the changes they’re experiencing. Their body is changing, their mind is developing, and young boys won’t talk about it because they don’t know how. They’re embarrassed and uncomfortable. It’s our job as adults, as fathers, as brothers, as uncles, as men, to tell them it’s ok to talk about whatever they’re feeling and not to ridicule them and tell them to suck it up.

After that we’re brought in to a conference room with some sort of meeting going on and this brings to light an issue that I’ve felt has gone ignored for far too long. It shows the person running the meeting, probably a senior manager or even possibly the CEO, putting his hand on the shoulder of a woman and saying, “I think what she’s trying to say is…”. Do you see that dejected look on her face? She probably said what she was trying to say just fine, but as usual, she wasn’t taken seriously. He might as well just put his hand on her shoulder and say, “Silly woman, let the men handle this issue that your feeble mind can’t possibly fathom the gravity of the situation to find a solution.” This is an issue in many different industries and professions. I see it almost every day. I have an auto repair shop. My service manager is a female who has been here for 8 years, before that she was at a different auto repair shop for a few years, and before that she worked at a Harley Davidson dealership in the service department. However, it never fails that when a man walks in and has a technical question and she asks if she can help him he points at me if I’m sitting there and says, “I think I need him to answer this question.” That’s the point where I blatantly ignore the person and allow Liz to handle the situation. I’m not going to let you talk down to her. She’s here for a reason. She’s not here to just answer phones, she’s not my secretary, she’s not a hire because I felt we needed diversity. And, contrary to popular assumption, she’s not my wife. She’s a professional, she’s excellent at what she does, and she will run circles around most men when it comes to vehicle knowledge. My wife is in the corporate world and I can assure you that there’s too many occasions where she may not be taken seriously because she’s not a man. She’ll school a lot of men in her profession and she doesn’t deserve to be respected less because she’s a woman. If someone is good at what they do and they do their job well they deserve to be compensated accordingly and listened to respectfully no matter their gender. There are wage gaps out there where a man is making more than a woman and they’re doing the exact same job. That’s not acceptable. If that hurts your idea of masculinity then get out of the office and go become a lumberjack and be a man.

Here’s where the “real men” get offended in the commercial. It’s the “boys will be boys” portion. You have 2 boys in this case who are portrayed to be rough housing. However, it seems that the boy on top is taking things a little far and it’s no longer wrestling around as much as it is one boy dominating the other. Then you have an entire backyard full of guys standing behind grills all nodding along while watching saying “boys will be boys”. Boys will be boys. They’ll be gross, they’ll be much different around their guy friends than they will around a group of girls they find attractive, and they’ll wrestle with each other from childhood all the way in to being an adult. It’s just the nature of boys. Gillette is trying to show the difference between wrestling and a kid being violent toward another kid. The kid on top doesn’t know when to stop, he crossed a line, and they want the line addressed. One of the dads runs in a says, “We don’t treat each other like that.” In this case he’s right. One kid is being far more aggressive than the other kid. It’s no longer fun at that point and is on the verge of becoming a full blown fight. It’s ok to stop the boys at that point and explain to them that it’s a not good time to let their emotions take over and turn this in to a bad situation. Men are so angry at this part of the commercial. Gillette isn’t trying to say boys shouldn’t wrestle with each other, they’re asking you to step in and be a parent when it’s being taken too far. Guess what? Stepping in and being a good, responsible parent is a manly thing to do. That’s being a man. I’ll respect the dad that steps in and uses that opportunity as a teaching moment more than I’ll respect the dad that would just let it go because his son needs to be “prepared to be a man in this world” as if the Hunger Games are suddenly going to break out at some point in this kid’s life.

To close they show the dad running with his son to stop a group of boys from pummeling another kid. All I see here is a dad setting an example for his son on how to do the right thing. Believe me, it crossed my mind that the kid being chased could have been completely in the wrong. Maybe the kid being chased was trash talking someone in the group and they all went after him. Either way, any situation where you have a group of people attacking a single person is something that is unnecessary. I try not to condone violence, but there’s times and places where one has to stand up for himself or for someone else. There’s times and places where the options have run out and it’s kill or be killed time. If it comes down to it I’ll go toe to toe with anyone if that what the situation calls for. That being said I’ve de-escalated many more situations for me or someone else than I’ve let escalate to actual punches being thrown. The dad in this commercial prevented a kid from being annihilated by a group of kids. He probably saved that group of kids from some very serious charges as well. In many cases the group of people feed off of each other’s energy and adrenaline and the next thing you know you have a person who ends up with brain damage or dies. To prevent that from happening is definitely something any man should do.

The commercial ends with a quote. “It’s only by challenging ourselves to do more that we can get closer to our best”. Thinking about what that says really just makes me think about situations where I could have done more and chose not to. I could have stepped in and stopped someone form being bullied, I could have backed a guy off of yelling at his girlfriend or wife, I could have done more to control my temper before I said or did something stupid. Gillette is asking men to be better versions of themselves. They’re asking us to respect women, to respect the children in our lives, and to respect each other. Is that too much to ask? For some men it seems to be a lot to ask. Reading the comments underneath the video on YouTube you’ll find that there’s a lot of men who “aren’t pussies” out there. I think your comments are proving otherwise. The comments section bleeds with insecurity. Sad, that’s the first word that comes to mind. There’s a lot of sad men out there who don’t know how to respond when they’re asked to actually feel something from the heart.

One part I decided to ignore, which I’m addressing now because I’m on the fence about it, is the guy hitting on the girls at the party. It looks like the guy is trying to flirt and the girls aren’t interested. Then another guy shows up to back the flirty guy off. It shows the “protector” of the girls looking rather aggressively at the who’s being portrayed as in the wrong. It sends a mixed message. There’s women who are offended now when a man holds the door for her because she can do it herself without a man’s help. But Gillette chose to go with the “damsel in distress” scenario where a man comes in to save the day even though they’re asking men to scale the stereotypes back a little. Most women I know aren’t too worried about a guy who doesn’t know how to flirt. He’ll be ignored, told to go away, he’ll call them some sort of name, and then he goes away. It’s a pretty routine sequence of events at almost every occasion where guys and girls are hanging out in the same area.

Ladies, you’re not off the hook here. Gillette only has a certain amount of time to address social issues in their commercials, but I have unlimited characters to blog about it. As a man I’m trying to be a better man and watch I say and do as to not make the women around me feel uncomfortable. That doesn’t give you free reign to say and do whatever you want because you’re a woman. There was a meme featuring a shirtless Jason Momoa. Every lady just smiled at the thought of that image. Underneath a girl commented, “I’d straight up rape a man.” No. That’s something you can’t say. If a man said that he’d rape any female celebrity, hell any female, he would probably be investigated by the police. The same ladies that post on their social media about how men need to stop objectifying them are posting pictures of shirtless firefighters and using NSFW words to describe what they would do to them. Can you see why there’s a lot of men who are confused? I’m not excusing the actions of men who cross the line. Truly, I’m not excusing that at all. There has to be a compromise as to what you say about men and then what you want said about women. You can’t look at a picture of a hot guy posing on the beach and be all over it and then turn around and see a girl posing in a bikini and call her a slut. Can’t we just be attracted to each other without the name calling and accusations that you’re just an object?

Speaking of accusations. The news lately has been featuring some stories of girls who called the police because they were “attacked” by their ex-boyfriend. Later we found out that the stories are completely made up and the girls injured themselves. Unfortunately there are countless stories of women who claimed to be raped and after the guy sits in prison for 10 or 15 years it comes out that she was lying. Seriously, ladies. Your word right now can ruin a man’s life for no good reason. These are the moments where it’s your choice as to what kind of woman you want to be. I know you’re angry, I know you hate him, but you need to find a different avenue to express that anger rather than falsely accusing a man of something and ruining his life. You’re so much better than that. Use your powerful words for good and inspiration rather than to harm someone. Go ahead and call him any names you want with your girlfriends, but don’t accuse him of things he didn’t do. I’m done ranting about the ladies now. I just wanted to be clear that we all have things we need to work on.

To wrap up the Gillette commercial and my overall feelings on it I’ll say that whatever they were going for worked. Look at what everyone is doing. They’re talking about it. Whether Gillette is getting good press or bad it still started a conversation. Maybe they’ll lose customers over it. Maybe they’ll gain a few they never had. Maybe there’s going to be people that feel they overstepped and should just shut up and sell razors. At the end of the day the people at Gillette wanted to express their feelings on this topic, they used their own money to do so, and they started an overdue conversation. I commend companies like this that have the resources to take a stand on an issue they believe in. Why should they just sit and be silent? In order to be heard by the masses you must first get in front of the masses. The average person can’t do that. If this is the gamble that Gillette wants to take they have every right to do so. I’m glad they put this out there. I’m glad they said what they said in the commercial. I agree with 95% of the commercial. As men we don’t have to be perfect, but we don’t have to be disrespectful and vile to prove that we’re men. There is a balance. I hope we can find that someday.

 

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