Written by Stay Safe Global
Every day, men are told how to act and behave in order to be “manly” and a “proper man”.
Men endure a barrage of expectations – how to deal with emotions, being able to tackle problems without help and not showing vulnerability. These societal beliefs aren’t usually headline news but a short advert by Gillette brought the topic to the fore.
In just under two minutes, the razor brand provoked a media storm with the clip called “We Believe”. What was it about this advert that made Gillette lose dedicated customers, caused a Twitter storm and suddenly gain an army of female customers – even with accusations of a “pink tax” on female products?
The short film includes clips of old Gillette ads and shows reports from the #MeToo movement. Replacing the company’s 30-year-old tagline “The Best A Man Can Get” with “The Best A Man Can Be” the advert focuses on the serious issues of harassment and bullying.
More than four million people watched it within 48 hours and thousands condemned or celebrated the message it promotes. Some angry customers threatened to boycott the razors while others are applauding the brand’s strong stance. But, love it or loathe it, this advert has brought a conversation that has been bubbling under the surface right out into the open.
I’ve been shaving since I was 12, since the beginning I used Gillette because that’s what my father used, now I will never use it again, and neither will my father, collectively been your customers for 50+ years never again #BoycottGillette #Gillette
— Ary (@ary31574363) January 15, 2019
@Gillette has made it clear they do not want the business of masculine men.
I will grant their wish.
I have used #Gillette razors since they sent me a free sample on my 18th birthday, and will no longer buy any of their products.
— Rule The Wasteland (@MongoAggression) January 14, 2019
Men, from all different backgrounds and experiences, want to talk about these issues. It is something that affects everyone and a study by the Samaritans highlights societal pressures as one of the reasons why men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.
Dr Karl Broome, Head of Research at Stay Safe Global, is leading the partnership with the UK SAYS NO MORE campaign to research men’s views on harassment and toxic masculinity. He shared his thoughts with us saying: “When it comes to the Gillette advert, perspective is everything, we are all going to see something different. “Our backgrounds, upbringing, education, social economic status, culture, gender, sexuality, age, where we live all effect what we see in the advert and also what we feel it is to be ‘a man’. No matter how we feel about the advert, one of its potential benefits is that it is stimulates conversation on sensitive and complex topics.”
Fathers raising children in the post-#MeToo environment can also find it challenging to navigate through a changing parenting landscape. Nick Martin, Director of Stay Safe Global, runs workshops focusing on consent, healthy relationships and awareness for teenagers. He said: “Over Christmas I was speaking to a group of men, all aged between 40 and 55, whose children had attended our Safe Skills and Safe Space sessions. Regardless of age, religion or cultural backgrounds they were openly discussing #MeToo, sexual harassment, toxic masculinity and other issues.
“Why was this the hot topic of conversation? Simple. These guys were all curious as to what everyone else thought. “The consensus was overwhelming behaviour highlighted by the #MeToo movement was totally unacceptable.” The ability to discuss these issues in an open way without fear of criticism was powerful, Nick said, and helped them navigate some difficult situations as a parent. He added: “The conversation spread to include raising their boys and advising them how to navigate the world of internet dating and sexual harassment allegations. “These men needed to have the space to discuss their thoughts in their own way. These topics are not new but men are rightly being confronted by the ramifications of toxic male culture and they have to be engaged in rising to the challenges of creating a more balanced and fairer society.”
Stay Safe Global, working with UK SAYS NO MORE, is continuing research into male views on harassment and toxic masculinity. The preliminary results were announced at a live question and answer event at the offices of international law firm Hogan Lovells LLP as part of their three year corporate partnership with the London—based women’s refuge Hestia. The research has been extended and results of this further study will be released to the Government in the form of a policy document during the annual UK SAYS NO MORE week in May 2019.
Harassment, bullying and abuse affects men and women from a wide range of backgrounds. Without having an open and honest debate, things will never change. Nick continued: “There will always be a minority that reject everything as an attack on what it means to be a man but most of us just want the space to talk.”
About Stay Safe Global
Stay Safe Global delivers bespoke training courses focused on personal safety and self-defence. As a partner of the international NO MORE campaign and Hestia women’s refuges, Stay Safe Global gives expert support to survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.