Gillette’s new ad is all about challenging toxic masculinity, and YES

Traditional, narrowly defined notions of femininity and masculinity harm people of all genders—not just women. They’re what cause boys to get mocked for being “girly,” and prevent many men from being open about their feelings and struggles with mental health. Thankfully, people (and companies) are trying to change this, and a new ad from Gillette is challenging toxic masculinity, asking “Is this the best a man can get?”

Gillette shared the ad, called “We Believe,” on social media yesterday, January 14th. The razor brand revealed that the ad is part of the company’s larger effort called “The Best Men Can Be,” which seeks to “actively challenge the stereotypes and expectations of what it means to be a man everywhere you see Gillette.”

The “We Believe” commercial opens on depictions of bullying, sexual harassment, and the refrain of “boys will be boys,” while a voiceover says that excusing this behavior needs to end. The ad even directly references the #MeToo movement, before calling on men to be better.

"We believe in the best in men," the voiceover says, "to say the right thing. To act the right way. Some already are—in ways big and small."

The ad then shows men stepping up to stop sexual harassment, calling out their friends’ bad behavior, and intervening in fights among young males. “But some is not enough,” the ad continues. “Because the boys watching today will be the men of tomorrow.”

Many Twitter users commended the company for the ad.

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Others (especially those on the right) reacted with scorn. According to CNN Business, some of the ad’s critics have even threatened to boycott Gillette.

Pankaj Bhalla, the company’s North America brand director, told CNN that he had expected a mixed reaction.

"We expected debate. Actually a discussion is necessary. If we don't discuss and don't talk about it, I don't think real change will happen," Bhalla said.

Others pointed out that backlash to the ad highlights exactly why we need it.

As part of its “The Best Men Can Be” campaign, Gillette will also donate $1 million every year for the next three years to nonprofits working to help men become role models. We’re so glad to see a major company taking a stand against toxic masculinity, and we hope that more male-oriented brands follow suit.

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