Commentary: Boys will be boys will be boys. Gillette is taking heat for a commercial that asks men to take a look at and behave themselves.
In a new two-minute advertisement, the famous Procter & Gamble brand takes on toxic masculinity by telling men to “say the right thing” and “act the right way.” Some men are offended and feel attacked, complaining that the ad “makes white men in particular look bad and arguing that, basically, there is no such thing as ‘toxic masculinity,’ but rather a tragic lack of masculine influences in schools and homes because women are so bad at holding on to husbands and selfishly insist on being the majority of public school teachers,” reports Vox.com.
The ad shows an assortment of male bullying, harassment and sexist behavior along with gentlemen stepping in to stop the behavior. The ad is called “We Believe,” and what the century-old, razor company believes is that we can be better.
A voice-over in the commercial says, “Is this the best a man can get? Is it? We can’t hide from it; it’s been going on far too long. We can’t laugh it off, making the same old excuses. But something finally changed. And there will be no going back. Because we…We believe in the best in men. To say the right thing. To act the right way. Some already are, in ways big and small. But some is not enough. Because the boys watching today will be the men of tomorrow.”
Pankaj Bhalla, Gillette’s brand director for North America, responded to criticism of the ad saying, “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. 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.”
Gillette is to be commended for taking on straight male privilege. Straight men should learn to be more sensitive to the feelings of women, and respect them like gay men do.
Wait. What? Are gay men correct in feeling as though the #metoo movement doesn’t address their behavior? Is there such a thing as gay man privilege? Is there a bit of casual misogyny in gay men and gay owned businesses?
Misogyny among gay men has become a major topic recently: In 2014, actress and activist Rose McGowan claimed that “gay men are as misogynistic as straight men, if not more so.” Some thoughtful responses called the comparison into question, but didn’t dispute her overall premise: When it comes to treating women like whole people, not objects or accessories, a lot of queer men have work to do.
Too many times while hanging out at Hamburger Mary’s or JR’s we’ve witnessed (or been guilty of) gay men caress their straight female friend’s breasts with a dismissive; “Oh it’s OK. I’m gay. I don’t like women.”
We’ve become desensitized to witnessing our friends fondling a drag queen’s breasts at Barcode or Outpost. Would you allow that sort of uninvited assault on your sister?
How often have we witnessed or been guilty of criticizing a woman’s make-up or the way she is dressed and make some sarcastic remark like, “Girl, you need a gay friend.”
Queer men all too often refer to women as bitches and will tell them to their face how disgusting we find their vaginas. (Well, they are, but we don’t have to say it.)
Just last week I was talking with a Mattress Firm colleague who told me about going out with a few of her gay friends. As they approached the door to (insert name of Montrose gay bar here—you know the ones), all of her male friends were waved in by the doorman. She however, was stopped and asked to produce an ID. Once inside, we’ve all seen our girlfriends wait longer for a drink than ourselves.
Nico Lang, writing for NewNowNext.com, says, “We’re not immune to the cultural conditioning that comes with growing up in a society that views femininity as ‘weak’ and ‘lesser.’ Even if your best friends are women, that programming is difficult to break. Sexism among gay men persists because many of us don’t feel the need to change, especially when the hierarchy that glorifies maleness seems to benefit us.”
Lang believes misogyny hurts gay men because misogyny is at the root of homophobia. “Gay men are stereotyped as feminine because we have sex with men, and society has a negative association with femininity. It’s an insult to walk, throw, or talk like a girl. When a gay man is beaten up, or taunted as a ‘faggot,’ it’s because he’s viewed as being like a woman,” Lang writes.
We can all improve our behavior by becoming aware of how we treat each other, especially our allies. Let’s remember that in the early days of the AIDS crisis, all too often it was our female friends that took care of our dying brothers. In return we harass them at our clubs and in some cases refuse to do business with female-owned businesses.
Gillette was simply asking men to take a look in the mirror. Gay men should take a glimpse in that mirror, too. Are we the best men can be?
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the MONTROSE STAR.