Gillette Urges Customers to 'Shave Off Toxic Masculinity' in Controversial New Ad

The ad features multiple male stereotypes and has raked up almost 700,000 dislikes on YouTube since its release on Sunday

1/16/19, 8:51 pm EST

By John Corry, photo from GQ

Or at least that’s the quote we’ll be seeing (‘shave off the toxic masculinity’)…

This past Sunday, men’s grooming company Gillette–one of the biggest in the country–released an ad addressing the ever-so-prevalent concept of ‘toxic masculinity’. Listed above, the ad goes through several stereotypes, from the assertion that the average male reaction to any contention between them is simply ‘boys will be boys’ to the fact that most men don’t know when not to touch a lady at work. Many of the assertions in the ad have merit, but whether they constitute a, as many will argue, ‘epidemic’ narrative we’re so used to seeing thrown around nowadays in regards to this issue, remains to be seen.

They don’t.

Here’s why.

Now, first: I want to say that I have been told by multiple women that I am a very nice dude, and seem ‘frankly incapable of mansplaining’. I may simply call that being a good listener, but whatever, I’ll take the compliment.

I bring this up because, like all things outside of anime, if you dare to have an original thought on something, the mob demands your head on a platter. Yes, I’m speaking about YOU! YOU! don’t know me. How can you assume something about me if you haven’t met me before? And if you say you can because ‘you’re a man’ or ‘you’re white’, how is that really any different from the way the people you claim to oppose think? Come on, be honest: semantics are not life.

And if you do know me, or have met me, and you found that I’m an asshole (it happens to the best of us), please make a stink about it, preferably to me personally before going public, but, by all means, do what you feel you need to do. I’m confident enough that, aside from a few awkward moments where I might not have known what to say (are shyness and creepiness the same thing? #ImReallyAsking), I’ve never made a woman feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Metal shows don’t count. In all actuality, you’re probably more safe at a metal show anyway–

Now– out with the semantics!

My main issue (1/2) with the concept ‘toxic masculinity’ is that there is no differentiation between that and traditional masculinity, and (2/2) I’m not sure why ‘traditional masculinity’ is such a bad thing. Addressing the second one first: Yes, there are certain aspects of traditional masculinity, which I guess we can contribute to being the concept itself if we really wanted to be anal about it, but is that not the case with everything? Moreover, if this Gillette ad is any indication, it would seem that the majority of the world has got it wrong.

Real men don’t act like the men in this ad, and values associated with ‘traditional masculinity’, like assertiveness, confidence, and an emphasis on fact over emotion in certain circumstances are good values. Because values like nurture, unconditional love, and an emphasis on emotion over fact in certain situations are all associated with ‘traditional femininity’ (or: bitchiness?), should I be insulted when someone uses them to describe me? I can take the gender part out of it, and the values remain the same, so does the gender part really have anything to do with it? Is Gillette really arguing that those values just mentioned associated with ‘traditional masculinity’ are bad? Or could this possibly just be a marketing ploy?

Add 'the word ‘blind’ to any of those values and you have something of a ‘bad value’ and one which I would imagine people think of when they think of ‘toxic masculinity’, though I still don’t see how labeling something like that really does much. Many men feel as though there is a war coming, one which may end with all of those ‘masculine’ qualities shoved out the window for a more ‘loving’ world (love defined there: void of any responsibility). This rhetoric is passive aggressive at best, and flat out shit-talking and warmongering at worst (or: the male version of catcalling?). If there are differences between the ways people think, would biology–man’s oldest psychology–have any possibility for recourse? This is not to hark on the offensive nature of this stance, but the fact that people are so angry and divided right now is no reason to try to justify becoming more angry and divided right now. The truth of the matter is that most men are decent, and this partisan rhetoric defiling the sexes only works to further radicalize those already radicalized, and, worse, to draw those in the middle further to the extreme. It does nothing to get those in the middle to waver towards more centrism, only to get pissed off at the apparent fact that no matter what anybody says anymore, feels are the only thing that sells, so fuck it. And of course that’s only if you’re willing to forgo any disagreements you may have of course.

But this is not to write off the legitimate arguments against ‘toxic masculinity’.

‘Catcalling’, in which a man will simply yell out to a woman in some type of an attempt at wooing, is fucking dumb. Plain and simple. While some men say it ‘works’, and I’ve heard some women say they enjoy it (occasionally), if I had a vagina, this shit would bug the living hell outta me. I tell my friends not to do it around me, and do my best to make them feel as Absolutely stupid as I can whenever they do (because that’s how men communicate (sometimes) (talking shit? #ShitIsNotGenderSpecific). ‘Mansplaining’, which I alluded to earlier, I find to really be just a simple inability to listen, if not a feeble attempt to help a woman out if the man thinks that she’s not explaining herself very well. Women help men out in that way quite often in my experience, but the assumption on the part of the man that the woman simply can’t because of her gender, as is the understanding that if this is happening a lot it means that there’s something weird going on o a deeper level, is obviously ridiculous.

Almost as ridiculous as the contention that men are generally good listeners–

Again, I just don’t understand the use of anger as a fallback here; it’s the concrete wall all this is based upon. I used to be the guy at parties sitting alone in the corner with a fifth of whiskey to his face yelling at everybody about how they’re helping the corporatists with their stupid nu-metal music and that they don’t give a fuck about their own future kids because they’re so goddamned obsessed with getting drunk just to get drunk (okay, maybe not so eloquently). There are real questions in play here, and we’re not even close to getting at them individually so long as this conversation stays in the ‘no spin zone’, and that’s not to mention the fact that truth can never be discovered by any single person in-time.

The ‘boys will be boys’ monicker is a natural reaction to one of the hardest parts of being a parent: the fact that you don’t know what you’re doing. Should fathers step in when their boys are harping on the one loner? Of course they should (and in my experience, often do), but the fact is that nobody knows what it means to be a good parent.

However, a lot of the time it involves letting kids figure shit out for themselves. Is bullying bad? Of course it is (and what may the adult equivalent to ‘childish bullying be? Partisan rhetoric shined up as anti-bigotry? Shouting people down before they even have a chance to talk? Have you ever thought about the fact that being an adult is simply being a grown up kid and that that implies two fundamental truths: that we’re more complicated than kids when it comes to our passions, and that the way we dealt with passions as a kid have evolved?? PSYCHOLOGICAL EVOLUTION!? Nah…, but do you remember being a kid? There’s almost nothing worse for a kid the victim of bullying than having his daddy step in to take his punches for him, and while that’s not to say that stepping in is always a terrible thing, or even often (it seems to me to be just as often affective), it is to say that telling people how to raise their kids is about the adult equivalent of ‘bullying’ to the nth degree. You tell me the fool-proof way to raise kids… I’d even pay for that one.

And that’s not gender specific.

Since 2000, suicide rates for young girls has tripled, while for boys it’s remained relatively the same. Some argue (including in that first link there) that the culprit is the way girls interact with one another through social media, meaning, more specifically: because boys tend to bully each other through physical means, and girls through relationships and manipulations of social status, social media is going to have a much bigger affect on how girls interact with each other. Does this mean that to bully someone through the use of social manipulation, or by attacking one’s relationships’ (wink, wink? (like, this whole thing where we’re not going to argue with people but jsut get everyone who knows them to cut public ties with them)) should be regarded as ‘toxic femininity’? I’ve been a dude a long time, and when two dudes get into a physical altercation, more often than you’d think does it end with a hug and a laugh, but can we say the same for –wyman?

I’ve seen Mean Girls…

And that’s just the point. All of this is about nothing more than dehumanizing people for the sake of nothing more than power politics (politics void of any conscious intellect), and Gillette is capitalizing on it. How many Twitter posts do you think they’ve seen in the past few days? How many more razors have they sold? We all know that, in reality, that weirdo who’s going to throw away all of his Gillette razors as a result of this fiasco are in actuality far and in between, but the people who now have that name on their tongues? ‘Gillette’:… Ooooh, man, baby. ‘Gillette’… fighting against men too busy to get involved in stupid identity politics every. day. of. the. week–

Maybe they even care more about that than they do their products!–

 Because their politics is what matters. And that is all that matters.

YOU! have become a slave to the capitalist indoctrination.

Congrats (this is a joke: sometimes people use jokes to ride their points home– the only thing gaining anything spiritually ‘decent’ (at best) from this whole conversation is Gillette’s ability to cut costs in their marketing department (and more???)).

Good luck shaving that one off.