Over the past few days there has been a lot of activity on social media regarding the new Gillette advert. If you have not seen it, I would recommend watching it on YouTube as it has some really direct messaging to men.
Essentially, Gillette are aiming their message at what has become known as ‘toxic masculinity’ and they attack what they perceive to be misogyny, bullying, disrespect and other forms of masculine stereotypes. Now I am not going to make any judgement on what Gillette are saying, but I was really interested in the responses that I got when I shared it on social media. The responses ranged from guys being inspired and spurred on, to others feeling really cynical about a multinational corporation being manipulative about social justice in order to sell their product. Whichever side of the argument people landed on, there seemed to be a lot of strong feeling.
One guy tweeted: “We are living in an era of ‘woke capitalism’* in which companies pretend to care about social justice to sell products to people who pretend to hate capitalism.”
Now, I don’t know what you, personally, make of all that but when I watched this advert with my wife, we both had the same reaction. As the advert unfolds, it becomes very clear that the younger boys are watching the older men, and this impacted me massively because my five-year old son watches me intently in virtually every situation. How I behave, and the things that I do, really matters to him. My son’s world is being shaped by the way I treat his mother, our wider family, friends and crucially how I treat him.
I remember once hearing someone say that one of the greatest gifts a father can give a child, is to love their mother well. Children, whether they are ours or not, are constantly looking to us for an example—what is the example that we want to give?
Over the past few blogs, I have been sharing values by which I am living. There is a value that I live by which fits well with this advert from Gillette: ‘I will father my son with a tender heart and a Godly spirit; always praying that he will grow up to know his true, eternal Father, God!’
There are so many aspects to being a tender-hearted and Godly man, and I fail so many times, but whatever else Gillette may have got wrong, they gave me the reminder that my son is constantly watching me and I have a responsibility to live well and when I don’t live well, to put that right with him and whoever else I may need to.
In this advert, Gillette replaced the slogan ‘the best a man can get’ with ‘the best a man can be’—the best a man can be is to be like Jesus Christ.
Aspirational, yes! Essential, definitely!
But always remember CODE XII: “If I fail, I will not give up. He never gives up on me!”
Thank you, Gillette. Whatever else you intended through this advert, you have at least started some really good conversations.
*Woke is a political term of African American origin that refers to a perceived awareness of issues concerning social justice and racial justice. It is derived from the African American Vernacular English expression “stay woke“, whose grammatical aspect refers to a continuing awareness of these issues.