Gillette’s controversial new advertisement: a prophetic voice, speaking out about modern masculinity or two minutes of sanctimonious man-hating? The co-director of anti-abuse charity Restored gives his verdict.
Advertisements for razors rarely generate much excitement. Gillette’s latest short film has bucked the trend though. After a week, it has generated nearly 16 million views, 798,000 ‘dislikes’ (beating ‘likes’ by roughly two-to-one). Oh and media pundit Piers Morgan hates it!
Getting into a lather?
The reason for the furore is that the advert seeks to tackle one of the hottest topics of the last couple of years: the darker side of modern masculinity – as highlighted by the #MeToo movement.
The advert shows sexism, sexual harassment and bullying. Gillette’s old marketing strapline ‘The best a man can get’ is reprised to ask, ‘Is this the best a man can be?’ And, love it or hate it, the ad is powerful stuff.
Gillette’s website explains the thinking behind the short film:
‘As a company that encourages men to be their best, we have a responsibility to make sure we are promoting positive, attainable, inclusive and healthy versions of what it means to be a man. We’re inviting all men along this journey with us.’
So, why all the hatred?
Well, Piers Morgan’s fury appears to be directed at the idea that all men are neanderthal-like abusers. This isn’t what this film is suggesting. There are, of course, many good men and Gillette is encouraging them to be part of the much-needed change by being role models.
Proverbs calls on us to ‘Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.
Taking a stand
Movingly, the ad shows men intervening in scenes of bullying and harassment. It’s a call to men everywhere, to ‘stand up and be counted’. The philosopher Edmund Burke said that all that was ‘necessary for the triumph of evil’ was that ‘good men do nothing.’ Making a stand in the light of injustices is also a biblical imperative – Proverbs 31:8 calls on us to ‘Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute’.
This is remarkably similar to the aims of the Restored network, where I work. We are a Christian organisation founded within Tearfund.
Restored seeks to end violence against women, and asks two specific questions: ‘Where is the church when it comes to issues relating to violence against women?’ and ‘Where are the men?’
Restored’s First Man Standing campaign calls upon Christian men to do three things:
1. Respect all women.
2. Challenge other men when they display negative attitudes towards women.
3. Sign up to the ‘White Ribbon Pledge’ never to commit, condone, or remain silent about men’s violence against women.
By encouraging men to be the best that they can be they are endorsing the most scriptural of concepts.
Violence against women is a global problem and the UK is far from immune. Home Office figures suggest that one in five women in the UK have experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16 and that one in four women experience domestic violence in their lifetime.
All credit to Gillette. They are right on the money with this advert. By encouraging men to be the best that they can be they are endorsing the most scriptural of concepts: that both men and women are created equal, in the image of God.
Andrew Caplen is the Co-Director of Restored – an international Christian alliance which works to transform relationships and end violence against women. Restored provides advice and resources for churches in combating the issue of violence against women. Visit the Restored website, and follow them on Twitter and Facebook.
Pray about this:
Thank you God for the infinite dignity that you have ascribed to all of us, both men and women. We pray that all of us will be conformed to your true likeness and reject all distorted forms of masculinity or femininity.
Thank you for the work of the Restored Network. We pray that more Christians will commit to the vital work of challenging abuse against women – both inside and outside of the church.