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A defense of Gillette against gender-woke critics.

Instead of talking about what matters, conservative American pundits have been given something to talk about other than the Trump/Wall shutdown/tantrum. Gillette has taken the spotlight and has lit the internet on fire with an advertisement that targets toxic masculinity with the promise of building towards a healthier masculine identity.

One may point out that Gillette once used those tropes of toxic masculinity to build their brand, and, along with almost any company that sold things to men, participated in the wanton confusion that is now my gender identity.

I’m just making fun of myself. I don’t think anyone ought to blame Gillette for single-handedly ushering self-destructive masculine gender-roles and stereotypes into the modern world. Just like I said, Gillette participated in the deconstruction of my assigned birth gender. (Just like the kids on the bus who called me a f**got, it was going to happen with or without their help.) Gillette was taking advantage of a kind of ‘common sense’, using existing elements of our culture to guarantee sales.

Preying on feminine inadequacy has sold beauty products since the literal dawn of time. Male hygiene and beauty products is a relatively new market, so of course, merchants used techniques that had been effective with women. So my perspective is to hate the game, and not the player. The game, in this sense, is the overarching culture of hyper-conformity to an unquantifiable masculine ideology that has been built largely off of mythological heroes. You know, like Hercules and Batman.

Which is why stuff like this set me off a little bit:

Pulled this hot baby off of Facebook. I don't even follow the watermarked page, but things just land in my newsfeed and I don't even know how.

Who, exactly, is this criticism helping? Because the only person in the world that this little distortion of ‘common knowledge’ is of any benefit to is the individual who wrote it. Someone who clearly hasn’t felt like the smartest person in the room for a whole minute and a half, and now needs to delve into a reserve stash of unresolved angst to not only let you know that they think a bit deeper than you, but you’re just one of the myriad 'sheeple' who go train-hopping across bandwagons.

I have two counter-arguments for why it’s still great that Gillette is airing this ad, in spite of the company once being a symptom of the problem.

First, a company is not the same company as it once was. Not a single person who founded Gillette in 1901 is alive today; in fact, it may be a stretch to assume that their children are still alive. Across time, the company has shifted hands, and these hands may have had different agendas. Clearly the current captains of the ship are steering it into much different winds than they'd been previously sailing. So if we’re going to start holding a present-day manifestation of a corporate body accountable for the actions of the past, then we’d better just burn the world down and start over.

Second, companies and corporations do not ‘go out on a branch’ without careful consideration. To a point, the meme-lord is right. Gillette is hopping on a crusade, and I think it’s only appropriate that we don’t credit Gillette with sparking this attitude within our culture to question ‘conventional masculinity’. But the fact that Gillette is getting on this crusade in the first place is quite a curiosity. It means that hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars (though probably millions) were spent on research, studies, focus groups and pitches to see if this direction for their brand would spur sales.

The goodwill that Gillette is getting is indicative of a shift in our own culture. This kind of challenge against conventional masculine gender norms has been validated by a corporation over one hundred years old. To the extent that people who care about nothing more than vast amounts of wealth are willing to steak their income on our changing perimeters of gender.

It means that all these spiteful manly men who are crying havoc over a private company’s advertisement direction may be the loud and obnoxious (as men are, so they say), but it means that they’re losing the battle.


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