Gillette’s new ad “The Best A Man Can Be”, that questioned its own tagline “The Best A Man Can Get” has wreaked havoc on the internet since it’s release. As of 18th January 2019, the ad stands at 19M views with around 500K likes and a whopping 970K dislikes with more than 400K comments. The ad analyses how toxic masculinity spins the narrative of bullying, sexual harassment, objectification of women and mansplaining. It attempts to redefine real manliness so that boys find better role models in the men they look up to.
However, apparently, this “unnecessary misandrist moral lecture” hasn’t gone very well with our “masculine” viewers. As the ad challenges the notions of “Boys will be Boys” and holding men accountable for their actions, men have flooded the internet with angry grunts of “Let Boys Be” and “Boycott Gillette” – maybe because men aren’t used to hearing what is right and what is wrong, maybe because they think that real men have the authority to do whatever they want and get away with it and maybe because being a decent human being threatens their fragile male ego.
The Gillette ad is another beautiful example where men pant #NotAllMen and start whataboutism over women. Even worse, the hashtag #LetBoysBe is a dangerous call to protect toxic masculinity. It is about reinforcing gender stereotypes of men being authoritative and dominating and considering kind, compassionate ones as less of a man. What men don’t realize that the very ideals of “manliness” have had an equal impact on men as they have had on women. Be it the ones like “men don’t cry” and “men don’t get raped” and “men are the breadwinners” or the likes of “bullying is cool” or “ogling women is masochism”, it is fair to say that men too get victimized by these stereotypes. The backlash on this ad is the reason why feminism has a long way to go in its fight against gender stereotypes because there are a large number of men who think that stopping bullies and not catcalling women feminize them and threatens their manhood. Just looking at the comments section illustrates so much toxic masculinity in action *Rolls eyes*.
Design credits: Ruchi (Team Womenite)
It is horrific that in spite of such strong women empowerment movements and with the ongoing #metoo wave, something as subtle as a razor ad, that talks about doing away with toxic masculinity, has shattered the fragile male ego to the extent of being boycotted. The ad is being misinterpreted as anti-men, just like the whole feminism wave – evident of the facts that not being a bully is anti-men, not harassing women is anti-men or not being a jerk is anti-men. In short, being human is being anti-men *Slow claps*. The irrational hate and anger of men, towards something that merely asks them to not be awful humans, immediately justifies the very existence of this ad.
Written by: Arushi Jain