Talking about masculinity is really important and it’s a conversation that a lot of parents are having with their preteen and teen boys. But knowing how to initiate that conversation can be tricky. Enter a new Gillette ad that is a great conversation starter about the topic of toxic masculinity and being an upstander.
It calls back to the company’s decades-old tagline, which is “the best a man can get.” It then offers a twist on it, saying, “It’s only by challenging ourselves to do more that we can get closer to our best.”
The ad then refers viewers to the website TheBestMenCanBe.org. The company is donating $1 million yearly to nonprofit organizations. The Boys & Girls Clubs of America is the first recipient.
The ad (or short film) addresses bullying, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. Tackling toxic masculinity is a complicated topic. It cover how to be upstanders and features Brooklyn 99 star Terry Crews saying in his Congressional testimony that men need to hold other men accountable.
It offers examples of just that – men holding other men accountable.
It’s particularly useful to parents given that it shows boys and men of a wide variety of ages, including young kids and teens. It also makes the point that standing up and holding people accountable in ways both big and small matter.
“[W]e have a responsibility to make sure we are promoting positive, attainable, inclusive and healthy versions of what it means to be a man,” Gillette said in a statement.
Ask your kids what they think of the ad. Do they identify with any one of the vignettes more strongly than others? Have they witnessed situations similar to the ones in the ad? Do they know what to do? In their opinion, do corporations have a responsibility to promote positive images?
When I showed my teen daughter the ad, she said, “I really like that!” It led to a good conversation about some in her school believe “boys will be boys” but she also said that you can’t generalize about everything and there are some who don’t.
She’s hopeful that this will reach those who still have the mentality that looking tough is more important than being nice.
“Being nice is an attractive quality and sometimes when you think you’re looking cool, you’re actually not. Sticking up for people stands out more than being tough does,” she said.