‘Boys will be boys’. That’s such a flippant thing to say. A pre-packaged excuse for all kinds of obnoxious, rude and bordering on violent behaviour. He had a fight at school, he mocked someone over having a salad at lunch then knocked it off the table… No. More. Simply being a boy should never be a standard reason to get away with something. Boys should know better and so should the Dads.
‘Don’t be a dick’ would be a more apt slogan for men in 2018. Even then there are some men who just cannot help being a dick. Take a look at the backlash following the new Gillette advert. #GilletteBoycott is growing apace as those men who feel their masculinity has been questioned throw their shavers away. Seriously, ‘men’? Is this how fragile your egos are that you’ll willingly throw away a razor you spent good money on (probably too much good money on) to make a point to yourself?
‘You can’t tell us what to do’ seems to be the general message from the likes of Piers Morgan who deemed Gillette after the advert as, ‘man-shaming’ (https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6594295/PIERS-MORGAN-Im-sick-war-masculinity-Gillette-just-cut-throat.html). Sigh. It’s telling that Morgan should set the tone for so many so-called men when he tends to bully guests rather than interview them, unless you’re Donald Trump which says a lot about the men he aligns with. He calls the advert ‘supremely patronising’, almost as if he cannot see the underpinning issue and is unwilling to face his own condescending manner. Also likely because he feels a pang of guilt at some of his own questionable behaviour.
The #MeToo movement has made waves to empower women and men to make men accountable for their improper behaviour. Those creepy, longer than necessary hands on shoulders, the staring, the ogling, the crass means of address. The advert points all those behaviours out brilliantly and even gives out instructions for how decent men should react to all kinds of scenarios. If all this is something to rebel against then there’s clearly something wrong with a lot of men.
The primary aim of any advert is to gain the public’s attention towards a product. The brilliant ones are those which fuel public debate around bigger issues. Gillette have pressed that button and the advert goes some way to back its own ‘The Best A Man Can Get’ slogan. Men should be setting better examples and we should do away with the ‘boys will be boys’ stance. The advert is brilliant BECAUSE it insists that men need to improve their actions, their choices. The advert isn’t a difficult watch if you were brought up the right way and the message is a clear one; Men, be nice, be humble. Don’t be a dick and if you do see a man be a dick politely tell him it isn’t cool. It’s not asking for much, it’s not suggesting drastic change, just don’t be a dick. If a man feels affronted by that then they’ve just identified themselves as part of the problem. Hi, Piers.
From the depths of a poisonous Trump presidency it seems that the big US brands are taking a stand. Nike opened the door by having Colin Kaepernick as the face of their newest advertising campaign in September 2018. A bold move following Kaepernick’s (undue) criticism after he took the knee against racial injustice and police brutality. There was a backlash for that too and more toys thrown out of the pram. #JustBurnIt trended as predominantly white middle-aged right wing men cut out the tick from their socks (and creating some natty wristbands in the process) while others simply tried to burn their trainers. This should set off alarm bells to the violent lengths some men will go to in order to prove a point. The wrong point.
The sort of men that hitherto haven’t realised how their attitudes were so misaligned until the right sort of advert came along.