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What’s Wrong with Gillette’s Ad on Toxic Masculinity

by Gil Sanders
What’s Wrong with Gillette’s Ad on Toxic Masculinity

Gillette’s new ad against toxic masculinity has taken the internet by storm. But it has been a disastrous failure. As of now the video has received 699k dislikes compared to 324k likes. A look at comments all across the internet reveal that the male base is outraged by the ad. How could an ad that only says, “bullying is bad, sexual assault is bad, etc” produce such outrage? If you listen to The Young Turks, this outrage only comes from the “crying conservatives” who are a “tiny, tiny minority.” Which is a ridiculous explanation given that the response of the majority is negative. Cenk mockingly says that the issue is whether men “should be good guys or monsters”, and that these males are trigged because they’re asked to be good. Cameron of Capturing Christianity shared (but did not endorse) a meme that claims male insecurity mostly explains the outrage:

Again, ridiculous. It essentially calls men insecure for being offended at being called insecure. Triggers only apply to irrational impulsive responses, especially one grounded in psychological projection and hasty generalizations. By contrast, being offended at slander is a rational response. And besides, are we really supposed to believe that most men are outraged because they are insecure whenever they’re told assault is bad? Come on! No man is offended by the moral content of the ad, they are offended at the implicit message and how it is delivered.

Most men thought the ad unfairly depicted how most men are because most of the men in the ad were depicted badly. For example, there were a line of men behind BBQ grills justifying bad behavior with the phrase “boys will be boys.” The ad made “toxic masculinity” seem like an epidemic with its various news anchor clips. This offends most men because most men are in fact decent people who already oppose such bad behavior. They don’t need to be constantly lectured that it is wrong over and over again. And they especially don’t need it from a “multi-national company that was recently caught profiting off forced child labour and price fixing” (top YouTube comment).

A FB friend of mine objects to this, claiming that the ad does not indict all men as toxic, it only indicts the socialization that produces toxic traits in men. But this is just mumbo jumbo for saying that most men are toxic. After all, how can you have a social structure that produces toxic traits in men without making most men toxic? By definition a social structure affects the majority. Besides, the ad is so obviously about most men that it takes willful blindness to suggest otherwise. There is after all a reason why most men interpret it that way. And if your response is that, “Well that’s because most men are insecure so they project it onto the ad,” you are proving that this is about most men! Even Gillette confirms this on their own Twitter account:

Who could the “we” possibly refer to? The majority of their customer base. Men! They’re explicitly claiming that most men are excusing bad behavior and if you cannot possibly understand how this would upset males, you are beyond reasoning with. Imagine a stranger walked up to you and said, “You need to stop excusing bad behavior! But we can stop this bad behavior, together!” The natural response would be anger. This person knows nothing about you, and yet comes in making accusations against you. This is how the male audience feels toward this ad. If Gillette meant only to direct this ad toward a minority of males, then they should have depicted their ad differently. For example, they could have showed most of the males being decent human beings against a minority of males. Then toward the end say, “We are proud of our customers. You are the best that men can be. Let’s continue stopping bad behavior!”

Conclusion

But no, this is not the message that was given. They clearly feel that most males need to hear this message in order for them to see the light. Apparently we were all lost before Gillette came to show us the way! Thank goodness they created an ad to teach toxic males the error of their ways! Ultimately this is an attack on masculinity in general. There is a radical feminist agenda lurking behind the scenes that wants to deny that there is such a thing as objective masculinity. All masculinity is a social construct for them. As Christians we wholeheartedly deny this. Men are the head over the wife just as Christ is the head over the church (Ephesians 5:23). These differences in gender roles are grounded in real biological and psychological differences that are objective and fixed.

Like anything else, however, all good things can be abused. Sex is good, for example, but it can become toxic when we make it into an idol or lack self-control and end up committing adultery. Anything can become toxic. No male is denying this. Aristotle himself said that all virtues have their vices in having too little of a good trait or too much of a good trait. A virtue is having the right amount of that good trait. We do not deny that some male traits have been taken to the extreme, but often times this is because there is a lack of knowledge of what true masculinity is. Males are so desperate to flourish in an increasingly feminist world that they go to extremes to find fulfillment because they don’t know how.

You know what’s really toxic? Gillette’s ad.

11 comments
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11 comments

Zealous January 16, 2019 - 10:20 pm

Wow. I can’t believe I read this.

You literally dismiss a logical argument as mumbo-jumbo without actually trying to disprove the argument.

This whole article is literally you complaining about pointing out harmful aspects about masculinity in society today (sexual assault, lack of empathy, objectification of women, bullying, etc).

You then also start to inadvertently agree with the message of the ad.

Hey men shouldn’t be awful people and we should work together and make society a better place.

I have a feeling if you were to meet Jesus you would be upset with him trying to hold you accountable for your own sins.

Hilarious.

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Gil Sanders January 16, 2019 - 10:35 pm

Well, I appreciate you reading regardless!

I did not dismiss the argument; I showed that it refutes itself.

Every man should agree with the moral message of the ad. Most do, in fact. So why are most men upset? I addressed the most uncharitable explanations. Most men are upset because of how Gillette falsely accuses and attacks most of its customer base as justifying bad behavior. That’s the best explanation. Do I think toxic masculinity exists? Sure, I as explained in the last paragraph, but that’s because it is an excess or deficiency of what true masculinity is.

I wouldn’t be upset at Jesus. He knows all, and has the authority to say that. A random stranger has no right to accuse me of sexual assault, or of justifying such behavior.

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Mike January 17, 2019 - 12:30 am

I found Gil Sanders’ essay logical and well argued.

What’s interesting is that what you accuse this writer of, you do yourself. (“You literally dismiss a logical argument as mumbo-jumbo without actually trying to disprove the argument.”) You offer a only series of statements expressing your personal sense of outrage and indignation, i.e., “I can’t believe I read this!”. But indignation is not an argument. And, using the word ‘literally’ does not confer legitimacy to your indignation.

The writer clearly stated that his objection is to the way the ad suggests most men are bad. Further, he observes that by placing the blame for the bad behavior of a few men on ‘masculinity’, all men are implicated since masculinity is rooted in biology. It would be the same as if a racist said, “Oh, sure not all black people are criminals, but it’s their blackness that leads to criminal behavior. We need to redefine blackness to end the criminal behaviors and we need the good black people to police the toxic blackness of the others.” It’s a sleight-of-hand way to disguise bigotry and prejudice.

These next points are mine and meant as defense of this article:

It’s interesting that feminists picked up on the same rhetorical device some Christians employ regarding gays. (Love the sinner, hate the sin.) This has now essentially become: love men, hate their masculinity. Masculinity has become a kind of original sin, to be repented for. It’s also interesting that men USED to self-police before feminists stopped it. What men used to do was called chivalry. We stepped in and helped out–risking a fight and injury to ourselves–when a man was harassing a woman. Men like this were known as cads or wolves and chivalrous men would stop them in their tracks. Feminists stopped this because they said it implied women were helpless and that they were being prevented from being free sexual beings. So, really, as long as women embrace feminism it’s ridiculous to expect men to return to being chivalrous. Feminists don’t even like it when you hold the door for them (as if men don’t do this for each other.) If women are equal in all regards and differences are purely socialized, there’s no reason to step in and help them out if they are being harassed simply because they are women. Sometimes women go ballistic on a man in public and no one steps in to help him out. Maybe I’ll call 911 if I see a problem. That’s equality for you…

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Gil Sanders January 17, 2019 - 11:15 pm

Wow Mike, it sounds like you should write an article! Those were well thought out points there. Your point about “love the sinner, hate the sin” was especially interesting. I never made that connection to this issue before, but you’re absolutely right. Masculinity is now the cause of all our problems, as the APA so graciously proved to us. But then they also proved to us transgenderism is fixed, homosexuality is fixed, etc. But apparently masculinity is not fixed and men must be guilt-tripped for being males! Thank you for commenting 🙂 Hope you stick around! We need more minds like yours.

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Tom C January 17, 2019 - 6:38 am

This guy is def in the closet

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Turner January 17, 2019 - 7:52 am

I wonder if Cenk’s ringing endorsement of the ad had anything to do with the fact that his cohost, Ana Kasparian, featured prominently during the ad’s news collage portion. One hand washing the other? It should be noted that the ad’s message fits with TYT’s ideological slant.

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Matthew January 17, 2019 - 1:22 pm

Honest inquiry from someone on the opposite side of the aisle:

What comes after the reference to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians? Framing this within your argument that this commercial is directed at “most men” (which I agree with, by the way — I absolutely think that the intended audience is “most men,” and that “most men” need to be told these things), what is the responsibility of men within the context of what comes after verse 23?

I completely agree with you that there is a shining example of objective masculinity — Jesus. If we follow the example of Christ, we should stop others from chopping off ears, and we should love our wives as Christ loved the church — and gave himself up for her. And when there is a perversion of that servanthood, such as in the temple with Jesus flipping tables and taking names (and he’s all out of names), we stand up to that. How does the example of Christ — and the teachings of Christ, as in Matthew 25 and in the beginning of that book — How do we interpret Paul’s words through Jesus? I see that you are presenting your genuine beliefs here — that you are sincere. But your argument doesn’t hold up when you begin to criticize your opposition. In short, how do you define feminism?

Your argument seems to hinge on a straw feminist you have set up. By all means, criticize feminism or facets of feminism, but at least represent your opposition fairly. What does it mean to be a feminist? A second wave or third wave or radical or social feminist? These things are different — and the blanket assumption that we live in “an increasingly feminist world” — and that feminism is inherently radical — are, at best, an unfair representation of what it means to pursue an agenda of feminist ideals (in the general sense — as I said, many different approaches to feminism exist), and at worst, you are slandering your opposition, which is something, as you say, to be offended by. I see that you are making an attempt to be sincere, so this doesn’t make sense to reduce masculinity to Ephesians 5:23 and feminists to radical ideals.

Looking forward to your reply. As I said, this is an attempt to honestly engage you. I already see that you have done that with others, so in advance, I appreciate it.

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Gil Sanders January 17, 2019 - 11:07 pm

Matthew,

I truly appreciate your civility and thoughtfulness! Thank you for being a model for both sides of the issue!

Could you clarify why you think most men need to be told that sexual assault, bullying, misogyny, and the like is bad? Do most men lack this knowledge? Are most men committing sexual assaults? Are most men bullying others? If so, what data do we have to prove that? If anything, the opposite seems to be true. Most men are upset at this ad precisely because they honestly believe that this ad depicts them falsely. Unless you think they’re all lying or are in self-denial?

I’m very happy to see that you agree with objective masculinity and that you see Christ as the perfect example of masculinity! That’s all I could ask for really. I do think all men need to be told to be Christ-like, so in that sense I agree with you. I just don’t think the modern man needs to have their moral intelligence insulted by a random company that has no authority on the matter.

As for feminism, I define the proper form as equality of worth and opportunity. That is something I wholeheartedly agree with. But radical feminism, by contrast, is more about equality of outcome and a rejection of fixed masculine + feminine traits for subjectivism. In fact, they tend to hate men and get triggered if a man holds the door because it is a form of micro-aggression that says females are too weak to take care of themselves. Which of course is not true at all.

I hope this helps clarify my position!

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Charles Bowen January 18, 2019 - 10:21 am

Very well thought out sir. Plus I love in the comments how it’s mentioned had this been made for black people using black Stereotypes and telling black people they should do better then it would be racist.

I make it a rule that if I can take a message and swap out gender and race without it being sexist or racist then it’s both neutral and wholesome. But this ad… And the backlash is socially engineering a large swath of men to become toxicly (sp?) drawn away from society.

And in sharp contrast they’ve had other commercials praise positive male role models. This ad wasn’t necessary.

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Brother Bumblebee February 21, 2019 - 10:22 am

If you are anything like me, I will not rest until this GREAT country of ours invests in schools or camps to rehabilitate the MISGUIDED MILLIONS who have fallen victim to SCOURGE of Neo-Marxist Feminism, which is SATANISM by another name! As men, we need to thrust our manhood proudly past the clouds of POSTMODERN WORDPLAY and back into the ether of THE TRUTH. We will not be diminished! I was NOT born to an inject even an ounce of doubt into this wonderful (albeit of modest constitution) piece of manhood with which I have been endowed (which, of course, is reserved for activities sanctioned by THE TRUTH). It’s one life on earth–one purpose! And when I do find THE ONE for whom my manhood is reserved, it will be “BIC”, not “GILETTE” that I use to prepare it for its holy purpose!

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Vincent Krinitskiy March 18, 2019 - 8:56 pm

Ahhahahah

Funny stuff. Well written.

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