Gillette & Masculinity

I have to admit, the only time I think about the Gillette razor company is when I am rooting against the New England Patriots.

But Gillette is in the news right now because of a new ad campaign encouraging men to be the best they can be, speaking out against bullying and sexual harassment.

Take a look; I’m curious what you think:

My two cents: When popular culture gets something right, i.e. champions things which align with biblical values, it’s an example of “common grace” and we as Christians should be quick to affirm it as well.

Remember: our God is a champion of the weak, he chooses the outsider, and aligns himself with the marginalized. The prophetic books particularly speak out again people who call themselves “believers”, and yet they act as bullies and abusers. God takes a stand against such actions, and aligns himself with the weak. Jesus and his followers elevated the place of women and showed them honor and respect in a world that considered them less than men.

For more on this, check out the recent sermon on Amos, called Faith that Works from our Remember the Prophets series.

Is Gillette just jumping on the bandwagon of a cultural issue in order to move product? Maybe. But I don’t think that’s all they’re doing. According to their website, “Gillette is committing to donate $1 million per year for the next three years to non-profit organizations executing programs in the United States designed to inspire, educate and help men of all ages achieve their personal ‘best’ and become role models for the next generation.”

Good on you, Gillette!

16 thoughts on “Gillette & Masculinity

  1. I lol’d at this video. I agree with the comments on YouTube. They are basically calling everything about men bad. I use Gillette razor, but I had to check to be sure. I decided to write my own thoughts on my blog.

    1. YouTube comments are where to go to see the very worst in humanity.
      And – are you really using the comments section on my blog to plug your blog?! #partyfoul

      1. I do not know what that means party foul. Since you say God is for the weak. Where was he? That is always my question. Where was he?

      2. Urban Dictionary is your friend.

        As for the question of where God was: it betrays your expectation that God act and do in a particular way. God is a free-range God, as I like to say. He often doesn’t act according to our expectations. But it is clear in the Bible, particularly in places like Genesis 16, the minor prophets, and the Psalms and Revelation, that even if we don’t see NOW the things like justice, the day is coming when God will bring judgment and set all things right.
        Think about the story of Joseph: at a place called Dothan he was stripped naked, thrown into a bit and sold as a slave, all while crying out for help. In that same place: Dothan, Elijah cried out for help from those who were surrounding him to attack him, and God saved him in a miraculous way. Same place, same God, same Bible, similar situation. In the one instance God rescued the person from the situation, in the other he seemed silent and absent. But what we come to find out later is that God was neither silent, nor absent, but working providentially, and through Joseph going to Egypt, he worked salvation for Joseph AND for his brothers, AND for us! You and I are not qualified to be judges over God and his actions. In the end of the book, we see the people in Heaven saying to God (with their now perfect perspective): “all of your doings have been righteous and true”. In other words: with God – silence is not absence. And in the end, we will say: “righteous and true were your judgments, O God.”

    2. I don’t think they’re calling all things about men bad at all. They are calling bullying and sexual harassment bad, and encouraging the good things (e.g. heroism) in men.

  2. The message of the ad is good, but in my opinion the spot appears to be purposefully designed to spark a divisive reaction. Maybe that is what they wanted in this all-publicity-is-good-publicity viral marketing environment. But it’s like the Kaepernick ad and other polarizing issues: it serves only to reinforce already existing beliefs. Using the politically-loaded term “toxic masculinity,” and showing caricatures of men behaving badly–some of which are literally cartoons and others appear to be from 50+ years ago–along with stereotypes of men grilling is a straw-man approach. It appeals to some who seem to want to bash all men in my opinion and unnecessarily alienates men who might otherwise be open to the message. It fails to capture the nuance that most men are not Harvey Weinstein but neither are they Mr. Rogers. There are lessons many men need to learn to be sure but this spot has too many competing images/ideas that cloud the main point encouraging men to act respectfully and teaching boys to do the same. I find it interesting that many of the positive examples shown could be described using an old-fashioned word: chivalrous, but that has certainly fallen out of favor in our times.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting JD! I do think it was meant to spark debate. And it has worked. This is the most anyone has talked about Gillette in…maybe forever.

  3. Interesting take here on the ad. I would have to disagree though on the idea of this playing into common grace. When I saw this and read your take on it, on the surface, one certainly might be able to draw a preliminary connection between what Jesus advocated for and what is partially being shown (defending the weak). It seems like a logical connection until one might consider whether what is being shown is based on God/Jesus/Christian perspective or from a humanistic perspective. Without thinking too conspiratorially, we might look at the history of P&G (parent company and what they support to see that there is a disconnect with many Christian values.

    I’m reminded of Proverbs 14: “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”

    Marketing is a slick industry and when seeking a message that “feels” common to all, they certainly did a good job. However, I do believe that what they are advocating for is coming from a much different place than what Jesus and Christian values espouse. If we talk about defending the weak and loving/supporting women (but also the biblical view of both men and women) and we talk about it as Christ-focused actions, then we are in line with God’s values.

    However, there is a widespread popular culture push towards female dominance, goddess-oriented and in some cases a great amount of anger and borderline man-hating attitudes. There is a shift to transform men (and the male/female) relationship into something different than the biblical point of view.

    We could look at Mark 9: 39-41
    “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.”

    Are these companies and advertisers “against” Jesus? Maybe they do not explicitly say but we can also look at the fruit of their actions as a whole…not just a slick marketing message.

    I was also disturbed at the constant reference to doing what is “right”. As believers, we should never look to popular culture to tell its what is right. However, you often hear this reference from the media and politicians. As believers, out view of right and wrong is a fixed position based on God’s word which does not change. Those who do not follow Christ, often find that their values are fluid and shift ad change with the culture and majority rule.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting Erika! As for your point about talking about and doing what is “right”: I agree that as believers we don’t look to the world to give us advice about that. Part of being made in the image of God, though that image is broken or corrupted – it is not completely lost, and as a result, many people can discern from “general revelation” (i.e. Romans 1:18-20) about God and design (which includes right and wrong), apart from “special revelation” (i.e. Scripture). Sometimes we call this “common sense”. But of course, no matter how much “common sense” or kindness a person employs, it will do nothing to save their soul.
      As I’ve thought about the ad more since writing this, what has come to my mind is exactly what you bring up: that the issue is with constant reference to what is “right” – without any apparent basis. There is an actual basis, btw: these values come directly from the influence of the Bible on Western society, although many secular humanists hate to admit this and try to claim that it is perfectly intuitive. One of the few benefits of postmodernism has been the recognition of the fact that truth and values are not intuitive, but come from somewhere. And yet, the said secular humanists speak out of both sides of their mouths: saying on the one hand that there is no objective truth, and then saying that certain things are objectively true – namely, whatever they consider to be correct.

  4. Yes absolutely-good points! The Word and guiding of the Holy Spirit both should align for believers. Everywhere in media, politics…the secular world, there seem to be messages pushed on us that tell us what is “good”, “moral” and “right”…what we should do or believe in order to be accepted. There are so many false ideas of what is right that do not align with God’s word.

  5. I have been perplexed at the reaction of conservative men to this add. I see it as simply saying the obvious: “it’s better to be a gentleman than a dirtbag.”
    And although they probably didn’t mean to, the Crux of that message is from Jesus: ” Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
    It seems as if we American men have been programmed to see everything as an attack, so much that we can not believe popular culture may have gotten something right for a change.
    So I appreciate your positive take on it.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting. I agree that many people feel they are under attack. I teach a class at my church called “Christ and Culture” where we address many of these issues and consider how to think about these things in a biblical and Christian way.

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