Arts & Culture

The Politics of the Gillette Ad

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The Gillette commercial has divided opinion and provoked boycotts of the firm by some men. Is it really that offensive or just a sign of toxic masculinity which men keep on denying?

Toxic masculinity. You’re already so tired of reading and re-reading this phrase in every feminist piece of writing, right? Well, that’s good. People should make themselves aware of one of the main causes behind women getting killed, raped and mutilated every year.

The Gillette ad, which has been in the news recently talks about toxic masculinity. The advertisement features news clips of the #MeToo movement, as well as images showing sexism in films, in boardrooms, and of violence between boys and asking men in the end, “Is this the best a man can get?” The way men reacted to it talks lengths about the very prevalence of toxic masculinity in the society. Who knew that a shaving ad which is asking men to hold each other accountable could provoke such a negative backlash?

What are men exactly complaining about? They believe that the advertisement emasculates men. Others are screaming, asking to leave men alone and not jump in the “Men are trash” bandwagon. There are a few who are stating that it’s a marketing strategy by the company to monetise the #MeToo movement and basically, cater to an audience which is self-aware and demand that corporations take a stand on social issues.

Do you see the problem here? Why do I have a feeling that the men that are offended over this ad are the very men responsible for the things that they are being called out for? How can being asked to not sexually harass women on the streets threaten you and your manhood so much as to boycott the company whose products define your manliness? Is it too feminine for you to not be violent? Well, boys will be boys, right?

Of course, there are men who’re doing their best to make this world a better place. Even the advertisement is not denying this. Nobody expects men to let go of their presuppositions and their deeply embedded, social conditioning which time and again, makes them think that they possess more power and privilege over others, overnight. It takes time, but small steps are necessary in this direction. Educating yourself and listening to the women in your life is one such step.

It was time that somebody talked about it, publicly. Yes, this was an advertisement by Gillette to sell its products but it did start a conversation around positive masculinity. The world is paying attention, and so are you. Isn’t that the reason why you’re reading this article? Well, now you’re thinking about it and maybe giving a thought or two about your own skewered, toxic masculinity and Gillette’s shaving blade too. Mission accomplished.

Feature Image credits- Paste Magazine

Disha Saxena
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