Both Sides of the Razor
So, Gillette made an advert asking men to be better human beings, and over one million of them (according to the dislikes on the advert) lost their minds. Let’s discuss:
Firstly, I would like to state that I am a man (just FYI) and I didn’t find anything wrong with the video. Sure, it’s a company known for providing shaving cream and razors, leaving some to argue that it has no business “getting political.” Then again, neither does a certain orange man using daddy’s money, who has filed for bankruptcy on his shady business practices more times than I’ve had hot meals.
But I digress.
But I digress.
The point is that many men took issue with this advert, and when perusing the comments section, I noticed that most of these people weren’t stating why they were angry, only that they were. Comment after comment mentions Gillette calling their consumer base trash, but no one seemed to explain why they thought this advert applied to them. Again, I’m a male, but this advert didn’t feel like it was attacking me because I didn’t see myself in the bad behavior—I did, however, see remnants of my youth during the BBQ scene. The “boys will be boys” slogan that was tossed around whenever someone punched me on the playground. Other than that? No. I didn’t feel like I was being dragged through the dirt simply for being a man, so why do over one million men?
Could it be that they see themselves in this advert? Maybe. Though maybe there’s something else behind it… (Note: This next part just hit me. I didn’t intend for it to take this turn, but here we go)
Men are victims of abuse. Men can be raped, sexually assaulted, harassed, threatened, blackmailed (hello, Mr. President), and have all manner of things done to them that women have started to make noise about. This advert, while I do believe is incredibly well-intentioned, is something that ignores those issues that men face, focusing primarily on men as the predators and enablers of these actions.
Now, can you honestly tell me a movement that has shined a light on the men that suffer in silence when these things happen to them? And with that in mind, can you explain to me why the male suicide rate is 3x higher than that of females in the UK?
There was a recent report that broke out within the gaming industry that a male employee at Square Enix had been sexually harassed by a female superior, and upon reporting it was fired from his job, and (allegedly) told he must’ve “enjoyed it” for him to take months to report the incident (for fear of losing his job). And, even after having the female admit on tape that she was fully aware of her actions, he never recovered his position, and she was simply given a warning.
Imagine if this were a woman. Imagine if this had made the rounds in the news. Imagine the noise. Imagine the rage. Imagine the support of thousands of people rallying behind the story. Guess what happened with this one? Nothing. Only a select few youtubers even dared to report on it, with most major gaming sites (who do report on female harassment) not giving it a second look, despite having received the story and evidence.
Now, I want to reiterate that I fully stand behind the Gillette advert. I think toxic masculinity is disgusting, and I think men need to be held accountable for their actions. But, having seen the statistics for male suicide, and having seen the rage behind the comments against the advert, and having heard the story of a man who was sexually harassed by a woman and saw no justice—despite so many women coming forward and getting the justice they deserve in recent years… It left me feeling a little hollow. It made the victory of the advert a little more bitter.
What is the one thing people tell you about bullies? That they’re probably being bullied themselves.
The truth is, men aren’t allowed to have emotions. They’ve never been allowed to have emotions. When women were being told to stay in the kitchen, men were being dragged to war against their will, and branded cowards if they didn’t want to fight. When women were told that they couldn’t have a career, men were forced to feed entire families, and branded failures if they couldn’t.
We have made so much needed progress for women, and it’s true that no one expects a man to provide an entire family with the needs to survive these days… but there’s still something not right with how men’s issues are treated—as if they don’t exist.
I have personally witnessed drunken arguments between couples get physical several times on the woman’s part, and everyone around laugh it off. You know when they stop laughing? When the man who has been slapped several times shoves his “girlfriend” a little too hard and she falls over. Suddenly, everyone cares. He’s a monster. She should break up with him. She deserves better. He went too far…
And I’m not saying this excuses toxic masculinity. I’m not saying the Gillette advert isn’t needed. I’m not saying every man that behaves badly must have suffered at the hands of a woman. No. I’m simply stating that this advert for men decided to focus on men as predators, rather than shine a light on issues men also face. And if a company for men isn’t going to do it, who is?
Maybe that’s why some men are angry. Maybe they feel silenced—more so than ever. Maybe they feel that an advert that could’ve brought attention to the many issues men currently face—issues that makes them take their own lives at three times the rate of women, has failed them.