Is toxic masculinity too hot for men to handle?

“The best a man can get,” the long-time advertising slogan of Gillette, is being turned on its head in the #MeToo era.

The company has unveiled its Super Bowl ad, acknowledging that via toxic masculinity, men haven’t been at their best. Not by a long shot.

The ad is among the first to address the #MeToo movement head on, and to blatantly tell men to change their behavior, the Wall Street Journal said Tuesday.

“This is an important conversation happening, and as a company that encourages men to be their best, we feel compelled to both address it and take action of our own,” said Pankaj Bhalla, Gillette brand director for North America in an emailed statement.

“We are taking a realistic look at what’s happening today, and aiming to inspire change by acknowledging that the old saying ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ is not an excuse. We want to hold ourselves to a higher standard, and hope all the men we serve will come along on that journey to find our ‘best’ together.”

“It’s a risky move,” said Dean Crutchfield, CEO of branding firm Crutchfield + Partners. On one hand, it “creates a credible, believable, and upfront conversation that takes brutal honesty and tough decisions,” he said.

Gillette needs to appeal to millennials who care about what companies stand for, he said. “There’s a demand for this, for purpose, for brands to be tackling tough issues in the moment.”

How toxic is the topic?

“Does the customer want to be told they’re a naughty boy? Are you asking too much of your consumer to be having this conversation with them?” Crutchfield asks.

That’s a pathetic couple of questions to ask.

  • Justin McKinney

    I’m happy that Gillette is tackling this topic in this manner. It’s a good ad, and I hope it sparks more than a few discussions. I’m also saddened by Crutchfield’s assertion that it’s a risky move. I wish these discussions weren’t risky. But, if people didn’t take risks, we wouldn’t have had many of the changes needed in our society in the past.

  • jon

    // it “creates a credible, believable, and upfront conversation that takes brutal honesty and tough decisions,”

    If you are selling a razor to “manly masculine alpha men”, and your audience isn’t able to handle things because they are “credible, believable, upfront, brutal and tough” to name a few adjectives, seems like maybe they aren’t in the target market.

    Lashing out at a commercial that calls men out for (among other things) lashing out is only going to prove a point…

    But the concept of strength through not acting out baser emotions, turning anger into physical violence, and lust into forcible rape… that internal strength to control ones self hasn’t caught on as strength among the folks likely to be posting video of them trying to burn razors once they hear about the spot… I doubt any 60 second (1:49) spot will be.

  • Jerry

    It’s a bold move. Men are notorious for being emotionally fragile, and not good at introspection and taking criticism.

    • Spasmolytic

      Meanwhile, feminists on college campuses demand safe spaces and trigger warnings when confronted with ideas that differ from their own. That is the very essence of emotional fragility.

      • Jerry

        Thanks for proving my point

  • Al

    “Jake Thomas Patterson, 21, told investigators he was driving to his job at a cheese factory one day when he stopped behind a school bus and watched Jayme get on. At that moment, he said, “he knew that was the girl he was going to take,” the complaint said. Police have said the two did not know each other.”

    If ads like this stop environments where garbage happens like targeting young girls for God only knows why (among any number of other behaviors resulting from toxic masculinity and beliefs of male infallibility), I’m in. 100%.

    WE FEAR FOR OUR DAMN LIVES because of, among other things, toxic masculinity. Get it together, men. Call each other out. End this.

    • Erik Petersen

      The best description of Patterson is probably not that he was afflicted with toxic masculinity. Its that he’s an incel and profoundly mentally ill.

      • Jerry

        How is being an incel not an example of toxic masculinity?

        • Erik Petersen

          I think these guys that are unlucky enough genetically to be too homely and too uncharismatic that it prevents female companionship see themselves as marginalized by society.

          That’s arguably different from ‘toxic masculinity’, which seems to have a more bro ambient misogyny connotation. I don’t know though… could be part and parcel.

          • Kassie

            I have co-workers who are both conventionally unattractive and with pretty weird personalities that have found the loves of their lives and are married. It is because they are kind people and that’s what women really want, kind men. Incels status has nothing to do with what they look like or how charismatic they are. It is 100% they believe women owe them something. They are bitter, hateful men, and that’s a product of toxic masculinity.

          • Barton

            I’ve met a few incels – none of them are unattractive, nor homely. They are just males who believe they are OWED something by women. They literally believe there is no such thing as rape because women OWE them sex. They are the definition of toxic masculinity, and women avoid them because they are freaking scary.

  • Rob

    Talk is cheap. What’s Gilette doing with its corporate power and influence to put a crimp in toxic masculinity, other than the hugely ironic running of these ads during the legalized mayhem and violence of a pro football game?
    Has Gilette publicly weighed in on the epic fails of the NFL regarding its treatment of players known to have assaulted wives and girlfriends?

    • They’re throwing money at organizations that work with boys/young men etc.

      • Rob

        Besides the ad? Didn’t see anything in your post about it.

    • RBHolb

      First, I don’t see why speaking out on an issue creates some obligation to speak out on every conceivable aspect of that issue. There are only so many hours in a day.

      Second, the huge irony–and I agree that’s what it is–of this commercial helps make the point. The only thing more macho than a shaving commercial is a shaving commercial run during a football game (wasn’t “athletes endorsing razor blades” a shopworn advertising cliche back in the day?). If you’re going to provoke real discussion or even thought, it’s best not to do it in a way that’s preaching to the choir. Running this ad during an airing of The Handmaid’s Tale isn’t going to get much more than some nods of agreement. Running it during the Super Bowl isn’t going to result in any immediate changes, but it will get people talking.

      It’s a start.

  • Be warned: NewsCut commenting rules have not been suspended. 24 hour ban for violations.

    https://blogs.mprnews.org/newscut/2017/05/lets-talk-commenting/

  • Spasmolytic

    I question the wisdom of using drivel found in a woman’s studies program to market men’s razors.

    • John

      sounds like somebody needs a hug.

    • RBHolb

      I think you just proved the point of the commercial.

  • Gary F

    It’s getting people talking about this subject and Gillette. Both need some talking about. Gillette is getting killed by the niche companies like Harry’s and private store brand labels as of late. It’s gotta start somewhere. Good for them. I’ll keep buying the target brand.

    • KariBemidji

      And their marketing team is not a bunch of dummies. My husband has not bought a razor in our 21 years of marriage. It’s something I pick up on my Target runs. They know who runs this economy.

      And it is a great ad.

      • Oh, god, this is so true.

        Stand by for comments from men with hurt feelings who will post that they’ve been in a grocery store a time or two.

        • KariBemidji

          With a specific list from their wife/SO. 🙂

          • John

            I know you’re trolling, and my feelings definitely aren’t hurt – it’s true for boy my parents, my wife’s parents, both my brothers’ families – she does the shopping. I do pretty much all the grocery and other supplies shopping for our house, as well as the majority of the cooking (probably around half the cleaning – would probably be more, but I’m terrible at noticing when the laundry pile is about to take over the entire bedroom or when the kids are likely to run out of clean socks).

            And I hate it when my better half makes the list. I know the stores so well that I put the list in the order in which I will encounter the items (or at least the aisle). When she makes it, I end up doing so much backtracking.

        • theoacme

          From the age of seven, pulling a little red wagon, with a list, training from mom on how/when to substitute, learning to plan and execute multiple store shopping trips before I was sixteen…

          …a time or two? Bob, really? I have forty-four years-plus shopping experience…

          …my mom was the only one better than me (there was the time our extended family moving into Watertown, going to Heartland (I think that was the name) with $500, a list, two carts, and people throwing in stuff my mom wanted she didn’t have on her list)…she said “stop!”, we checked out, at $499.97!)…

          …feelings hurt? Nah…the second best shopper on earth has no time for that (my Fitbit today just, at this moment, on a shopping trip, passed 20,000 steps /8.58 miles) 😇

      • The Resistance

        And to tag team on that, they address bullying which a lot of gay men will relate to (note the “freak”, “sissy” bullying references in the ad).

        Those of us men in same sex relationships buy twice the number of men’s razors. These ad people know what they’re doing.

      • Jack Ungerleider

        I’ve been married 31 years and I don’t think my wife has ever purchased a razor for me.

        And to Gary’s point I used to buy the store brand at Cub but about a year or so ago switched to Harry’s and by my blades at Target.

      • Kassie

        I’ve got to imagine they make women specific razors too? Probably at twice the cost of men’s ones, so there is that market too.

        • KariBemidji

          Oh yes, the lovely Pink Tax.

          • Kassie

            I’ve found away around it with razors, I stopped shaving. I remove the unwanted chin hairs with a tweezers, but that’s about it. Long live leg hairs! Viva la underarm hair!

      • boB from WA

        Late to the game in responding, but I too haven’t bought a razor or blades in years. I own a Norelco electric!

      • Al

        How did I not make that connection?! Well done.

  • MrE85

    I almost feel guilty for not shaving today.

    • Gillette Mach III at my house, baby. With a three week old cartridge.

      • MrE85

        At the risk of looking “TM” I still use a brush and shaving soap in a mug, like my dad did. It’s hard to find the soap these days. Williams is the best brand.

        • Barton

          I loved watching my dad use his brush and shaving soap. I loved that smell too (his was a cedar and bergamot scent, it was sort of brown colored soap: I’ve no idea the brand).

          This isn’t TM – this is classic facial care.

        • Barton

          also, not Williams, but the Vermont Country Store catalog still sells shaving soap for the mugs (both your face and the cup you put it in).

          • MrE85

            I saw that. My wife got their catalog recently.

        • John

          I’ve gone that route off and on. There’s some pretty good, minimally fragranced (the smell puts me off when it’s strong) brush soap out of Australia.

          I’m back on canned gel at the moment.

        • Jeff C.

          I stopped using shaving soap/shaving cream decades ago. My skin hasn’t suffered. My Gillette Mach III blades last for many many many (6? More?) months. Is there a relation? (I also shave only once a week now.)

          Also, check out Heimie’s Haberdashery in downtown St. Paul for great shaving supplies. https://heimies.com/

          • Jerry

            I went with the safety razor over the cartridge a few years ago and I feel like I’m getting better shaves and have saved a lot of money. Of course, I only shave my neck so experiences may vary.

  • The Resistance

    The aspect that I find interesting is that we seem to look to corporations more and more as arbiters of moral conduct.

    Families, politicians, and religious institutions used to help us define those perameters, but in many cases they’ve either evaded those responsibilities or fallen woefully short themselves.

    Now we’re left to our razor blade company to tell us what is obviously right or wrong.

    • X.A. Smith

      Well, we let corporations write the laws, and control pretty much everything, so maybe this is a natural result.

      • The Resistance

        As the great American stateman Willard Romney once said, “Corporations are people, my friend.”

  • The Resistance

    I like to think I’m too cynical and discerning to be succeptible to have my purchasing choices influenced by ad companies. But Dollar Shave Club hooked me with their first ad. The razors are fine. But I thought the (NSFW, using the f-word) ad was better than any of the high priced superbowl ads. They got me hook, line, and sinker. And I haven’t bothered switching since they increased their prices and sold out to Unilever.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUG9qYTJMsI

    • John

      I ended up going with Harry’s. Started with DSC, but I didn’t like their blades that much. Harry’s I did. (And now they sell it at Target, so when I run out of Shave Cream before my next shipment, I have a backup within the same brand . . . which probably shouldn’t matter to me, but for some stupid reason does).

    • Love that ad…

  • The Resistance

    Yup.

  • KariBemidji

    That’s how we truly keep the economy going. You just wander around stores and discover items that you didn’t know existed or that you needed in life (it also keeps Marie Kondo in business).

    • RBHolb

      It’s also my Saturday afternoon cardio. “Oops–I forgot to get shredded cheese. Better push my cart back to the other end of the store to pick it up.”

      • KariBemidji

        Me too! I take my fitbit off and put it in my pocket. It doesn’t register steps if your hands on the cart.

      • Jerry

        That’s one of the reasons I refuse to go to Cub. Every trip there feels like an expidition. I much prefer smaller stores where I can run in and run out.

  • robert

    Let’s look on the bright side. Gillette’s found new market. A tiny minority of toxic liberals.

    • At the risk of asking you to contribute something, which of the behaviors depicted in the video do you find particularly acceptable.

      • Jerry

        It says something when people are bothered by the message: Don’t be a jerk.

      • robert

        For a start, “is this the best a man can get?” implies the notion that the present day man is not good enough and needs to change. It may come as a surprise to you, but many man don’t see themselves as bullies and sexual predators. The fact that Gillette does, is frankly, insulting.

        • Kassie

          Men don’t see themselves as bullies or sexual predators, therefore they aren’t? I see men doing things in that video all the time. I actually cried when they included the part in the conference room where the man says something along the lines of “what she is trying to say…” That happens all the time and I’m sure that man thinks he is god’s gift to women. This ad points out that the BS men do all the time and think is ok is NOT OK.

          • robert

            Its a sweeping and gross generalization to suggest that most men in the world are bullies and sexual predators. The men that I know happen to be responsible people, caring for their families and do treat woman with respect.

          • X.A. Smith

            Who was it who said that most men are bullies and sexual predators?

          • Kassie

            First, I doubt you could recognize patronizing or disrespectful behavior toward woman unless someone is actually grabbing someone’s ass or otherwise sexually harassing/assaulting someone.

            Second, you don’t spend all your time with the men you know, so you have no idea what they are doing outside of your presence. Maybe you are right, maybe they are all lovely, but my 41 years of experience with men shows “nice guys” often aren’t and men look out for each other, especially in the workplace.

          • robert

            While your personal experiences may be valid, it doesn’t mean its the general case, and its wrong and dangerous to suggest that it is.

          • >> it doesn’t mean its the general case<<

            Just because you don't seem to recognize this issue, doesn't mean it's not a pervasive problem.

          • robert

            Sexual harassment and bullying occurs in society. I am well aware of that. The part that I take issue with is, is the extension that the majority (rather than the minority) of men are bullies or engage in sexually predatory practices. The Me Too movement became something of a witch hunt, then morphed into demonizing males in general.

          • Jerry

            It’s sure is easy to pretend it isn’t happening when you are so quick to discredit people’s experiences.

          • robert

            How so did I discredit someone’s experience? I sympathize with all Me Too victims.

          • Jerry

            And yet here you are ignoring their message.

          • robert

            We received their message loud and clear. It doesn’t mean it extends to broader society.

          • Jerry

            That literally is the message. That’s why women tweeted #metoo to prove that these were not a few isolated incidents. It was to prove that the problem is society-wise. This isn’t about Louis CK dropping his pants. It’s about Bill copping a feel on the waitress. It’s about Steve making comments to his coworkers. It’s about the crappy everyday harassment and dismissals that make women’s lives hard. It’s about you.

          • robert

            Well, perhaps, then, the majority of men simply don’t agree that it applies to them.

          • >>Well, perhaps, then, the majority of men simply don’t agree that it applies to them.<<

            And, as I already stated upthread:

            Just because you don’t seem to recognize this issue, doesn’t mean it’s not a pervasive problem.

          • Jerry

            And that is the problem. And that is why this ad is important.

          • robert

            Important to you and a minority of feminists. Offensive to men in general, and disastrous for the Gillette brand.

          • Let’s revisit what Kassie already posted:

            First, I doubt you could recognize patronizing or disrespectful behavior toward woman unless someone is actually grabbing someone’s ass or otherwise sexually harassing/assaulting someone.

            And then this from you:

            The part that I take issue with is, is the extension that the majority (rather than the minority) of men are bullies or engage in sexually predatory practices

            I’m impressed by your ability to confirm Kassie’s original point without even realizing it.

            /Most women, and I mean “most” by a LOT, have at sometime in their life, been victims of harassment.

          • Kassie

            So your (a man) personal experience equal a general case and is not wrong or dangerous to suggest it is, but my personal experiences (a woman) don’t equal a general case and its wrong and dangerous to suggest it is. Yep, got it. You are sexist and not worth my time.

          • You forgot the #notallmen hashtag, brah.

          • And the women you know? What do they say?

          • robert

            That’s a good point Bob. You’ve just illustrated why this is just a pointless conversation to have. Extreme feminists and their supporters really aren’t interested in engaging with men in a constructive manner on this issue. This is why so many men have simply checked out of the conversation. To the extent that a massive corporate such as Gillette would come to such a misunderstanding of their target market, that they would put out an ad that would put billions of dollars of revenue in jeopardy.

          • I wasn’t making a point, I was asking a question. What do the women you know (the women you work with, for example) say about what it’s like to be a woman trying to get through a day?

          • robert

            Bob I think would get a range of responses. Some would have positive things to say about men, and others negative. What’s your point here?

          • What did they say. I’m not asking what hypothetically they might say. I’m asking you if have talked to them about this?

          • Jerry

            Ask them if they have ever received unwanted attention. Ask them if they have ever been catcalled. Ask them if they have ever had a man make them feel less important because of their sex. Ask them if they have safety precautions in place when they go on dates. All things that men don’t have to worry about.

          • robert

            Heterosexual men are for the most part are genetically programmed to make sexual advances to woman that they find attractive. If this were not the case, we simply would not exist as a species. Unfortunately, the courting process can get very messy and often personal lines are crossed.

          • RBHolb

            “Extreme feminists and their supporters really aren’t interested in engaging with men in a constructive manner on this issue.”

            There is a current colloquialism that seems like it would provide an apt description of a man explaining to women what a “constructive manner of engagement on this issue” would be. Any guesses as to what that would be?

            It may be too much to ask if there are any guesses as to why the practice might be offensive.

        • RBHolb

          No one sees himself as a bully or a sexual predator. Predators will claim they were led on or enticed, or that they meant their advances as a compliment. Bullies will tell you that they’re just kidding around and anyway, why are you so offended, snowflake?

          You’re not the one who gets to decide whether what you do is okay.

          • robert

            In as much as some men are predators, some woman are manipulators. For instance, it is all too convenient to extrapolate from the depraved actions of a minority of individuals in Hollywood to the typical behavior of all men in the entire world. This is called a gross generalization, and it suits the agenda of extreme feminists who seek to alter the balance of power between sexes.

          • Jerry

            Which way do you think that balance of power leans now?

          • Kassie

            Most of the women I know have been sexually assaulted or harassed and I don’t work in Hollywood. Take the article last year about all the State Employees who were harassed and assaulted and how the State did nothing about it in most cases. Those are everyday, normal women harassed/assaulted by everyday, normal men.

          • Jerry

            It’s amazing how a “tiny minority of individuals in Hollywood” have sexually assaulted 1 in 5 women in this country. They must be busy.

          • RBHolb

            The “balance of power between sexes” is the entire point. There isn’t a balance. Historically, men have had the power, and, as much as some might like to whine about the b*****s getting their own way all the time, the power in society is still largely male. The gross generalization is a generalization because it has a germ of truth to it: men are granted more license in their dealings with women than women are in tehir dealings with men.

            Put another way: What would have happened if, say, Carly Fiorina had been caught on tape bragging about grabbing men by the d**k?

        • The men who don’t see themselves as bullies and sexual predators are the ones Gillette is asking to speak up when they see someone treating women with disrespect.

          Guessing you didn’t actually watch the video or that would have been obvious to you since that’s actually what the ad said.

          • robert

            Actually, I felt it wrong and distasteful for Gillette to imply that men in particular tend not to speak up when woman are treated with disrespect. I had assumed that most people (both men and woman included) would speak up if anyone was treated unfairly.

          • Jerry

            And yet 20% of women have been sexually assaulted and close to 100% have been sexually harassed, so obviously we aren’t speaking up.

          • Kassie

            I think that 20% number is women who have been raped or violently sexually assaulted. That doesn’t include ass/breast grabbing, men rubbing up on them on the bus, upskirt photos, etc. I would say most women have had something like this happen also, especially if they take public transportation or work in customer service/restaurant industry.

          • Jerry

            I was using the smaller, more narrow definition, which is still horrifying.

    • Jerry

      This seems to have hurt your feelings. When will men ever have their day?

    • Slim Paco

      I can only see this ad working on the extreme anti-male feminists. Most women like men, they marry them, they love their fathers and sons. Even gay men like men. The ad says “Men are bad, do better, buy our product”. Its a very odd ad.

      • The message is: treat women with respect. No different from beer ads that say “drink responsibly”

        That some men are threatened by that message is pathetic.

  • >>”Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.”<<

    Or in song:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZZSYDhx0FI

  • I thought about going to see her at Surly, but I had a previous engagement…

    Hopefully next time she tours.

  • robert

    Frank, you’ll excuse me if I prefer not to be given morale guidance from a company that supplies toiletries.

  • robert

    It cannot be.

  • robert

    The Me Too movement went far far beyond pointing out abuse.

  • As have I…and what they told me was certainly eye-opening.

    I knew it was pretty bad, but never realized how bad it was.

  • After following this thread for a spell, I believe the answer to this topic,
    “Is toxic masculinity too hot for men to handle?” is “Yes, for certain men.”

  • Slim Paco

    I’m waiting on Nike to come out with the Black Men you can do better ad. Probably won’t see that. If you wonder if something is sexist or racist, just flip the gender or race and test it out. Looks like Gillette didn’t do this.

    • Gillette’s ad doesn’t have anything to do with race so what’s to flip? As for flipping gender , how do you do that with toxic masculinity

      Or are you arguing there ‘s no such thing?

      • Slim Paco

        Gender. Would an ad targeting women tell them to do better and stop cyber bulling, body shaming, and stop enabling people like Harvey W and Larry N? Answer is no. That would not be allowed. Only males, mostly white in the ad, can be shamed like this. I know Gillette sales have been dropping for a while and this is just a marketing attempt to save the brand. We will see how the sales do next quarter.

        • Part of those have been addressed by P&G , Gillette’s parent inbothervads.

          Enabling Harvey was sounds like “look what she was wearing” and I don’t have time to indulge that brand of toxic masculinity.

          Honestly, though, the extent to which men have their feelings hurt by Gillette’s ad is embarrassing to the gender. Be better. For us.