When the shaving company Gillette released its “We Believe: The Best Men can Be ” video last week on Twiter it received lavish praise from the #MeToo movement and from some less predictable quarters. The message, ““Boys will be boys”? Isn’t it time we stopped excusing bad behavior? Re-think and take action by joining us at #TheBestMenCanBe.org”.
The advertisement features news clips of reporting on the #MeToo movement, as well as images showing sexism in films, in boardrooms, and of violence between boys. A voice over drops buzzwords including “bullying”, “MeToo”, “sexual harassment” and that irritating smear, “toxic masculinity”. “Is this the best a man can get?” the voice asks.
Obviously not. So “men” need improving, Gillette tells us, and half a million people who “liked” the tweet agree. (That's out of 29.5 million views of the ad on Twitter.)
At the same time Gillette's effort was roundly abused by the likes of British TV host Piers Morgan, who fumed: “I've used @Gillette razors my entire adult life but this absurd virtue-signalling PC guff may drive me away to a company less eager to fuel the current pathetic global assault on masculinity. Let boys be damn boys. Let men be damn men.” (Morgan, by the way, is a rather bullying interviewer and not a model of “the best men can be.”)
Now Egard, a watch brand, has hit back with a response to Gillette: “What is a man?” a video “Dedicated to all those who sacrifice everything to make the world safer and better for all of us.” It highlights the risky jobs men do, their role as protectors, and their greater vulnerability to separation from children, violent death, depression and suicide. Their effort to do the right thing. “We see the good in men,” it concludes. Isn't that refreshing!
Of course some men behave badly, perhaps more of them than women, and yet women also have their faults — though we are not allowed to discuss them, yet. However, the majority of men behave well enough, even while they have to carry the load of blame for social dysfunction. But then, carrying the heavy loads is what they have always done.
We await a sermonette from Vogue or L'Oreal on “The best women can be.”