Masculinity Redefined

“The boys watching today will be the men of tomorrow”" — The Gillette Ad

By Judith Carroll


Photo from The New York Times

Photo from The New York Times

Watch the Gillette Commercial

Remember that ad in the 60’s telling women how to make the ideal feast, or the one in the 80’s letting us know exactly how to be the perfect stay-at-home mom? Of course you don’t! It’s always been normal to remind women of their place in this world, and just how we should go about perfecting our roles as mothers, daughters and care-takers. In 2019, many of us have found our place as independent and intelligent women with a voice, we think it’s about time some men caught up.

Now let’s clear this up, Gillette isn’t challenging ‘masculinity’, it’s targeting ‘toxic masculinity’ specifically, and this is important to note. The ad begins by mentioning the “Me Too” movement. This is something we’re all well aware of and is a clear example of the toxic traits we hope to see phased out of the men of our future. This movement brought to light just how prevalent gender roles have affected our society and the ways in which men have chosen to abuse them. We know that not all men are this way, and as Gillette puts it, “we believe in the best in men”. However, our “best” may mean something different in 2019, and Gillette starts this conversation beautifully. We challenge the thought that men are superior to women and have the right to treat them as such, whether it be at home or in the work place. So…men of the world, do you accept this challenge? We ask that you uplift the women around you and accept them as powerful entities and as your equals. There’s no better time than the present.

Photo from Vox.com

Photo from Vox.com

As the ad continues on, Gillette addresses the infamous phrase, “boys will be boys”. I say infamous because it is often used to justify the traits in men that make up “toxic masculinity”. Girls, remember the last time you got in a long, complicated fight with your best friend, and a random guy made the classic comment, “being a guy is so easy, you just throw a few punches and everything’s good.” Well, we’ve learned that violence doesn’t solve our problems and some men have been taught that it does and continue to pass that on. The Gillette commercial challenges us to enter 2019 understanding that, “boys will be boys” will not excuse random violence, sexual harassment or discrimination of any kind. Let us leave, “boys will be boys” in the past, and encourage today’s young men to be the best men they can be.

The ad isn’t saying not to teach your sons how to shoot guns or possess the traits we all consider “manly”. No matter what kind of guy you are, the point is that alongside your personal interests, you are kind, fair, and treat the men and women around you equally. As the commercial goes, we will, “challenge the stereotypes and expectations of what it means to be a man”.