Last week, the razor company Gillette released a commercial that had a new twist on the “Best a Man Can Get” slogan by encouraging “The Best a Man Can Be.”
The ad asks whether bullying, the #MeToo movement and toxic masculinity is a reflection of the best a man can get?
The ad had the hopeful tagline of “we believe in the best that men can be” and then shows scenes of men holding other men accountable for sexual violence, bullying, and catcalling. It encourages men to say the right thing and help change the culture by showing positive male behaviors.
The response was... mixed.
While many applauded Gillette for taking on an important subject and encouraging a hopeful narrative about gender roles and leadership, there were naturally skeptics.
The backlash was fierce that the ad was “anti-male” and it stereotyped all men as being out of touch. Men created videos destroying their Gillette razors and claimed they’ll never use Gillette again.
What does that say about “us” as a culture?
I personally didn’t feel threatened or condemned. I felt hopeful and challenged—that even though I think it’s important to model respectful language and behavior, I can always do more. Honestly, our community is a better place when we, as men, use respectful language and behavior.
As I watched this video on a Monday, I thought about the message we heard at Faith Lutheran the day before by our guest preacher. Noelle Volin is the training and technical assistance director of the Don’t Buy it Project (dontbuyitproject.org) with an organization called Men As Peacemakers.
She talked about the stereotypes we have about prostitution and sex-trafficking. She asked us if we truly believe that “people are not products and men are more than consumers.”
Noelle stressed the point that a vast majority of men don’t buy sex. She saw this as an opportunity—a challenge to the men who were in worship—to be an advocate. Much like the Gillette ad demonstrated, men have an important role in holding other men accountable.
What can you do? This Saturday, January 26th, there’s a session being held from 10am-noon at Lutheran Social Service (1605 Eustis St., Saint Paul) called, “Raising Healthy Boys and Young Men: Ending Exploitation.” It’s a timely event with a positive message. If we want the next generations to learn about healthy relationships and being respectful of other humans, what are we threatened by? What does it cost us to continue fretting about naming the challenging topics in our culture?
We all have work to do to promote healthy relationships. As a pastor and a parent, I encourage you to accept the challenge to be the best advocate you can be. When we all respect each other’s humanity, we all win.