MALE TRAITS CHALLENGED: A controversial ad campaign launched by Gillette has sparked outrage among some and garnered praise from others due to its depiction of masculinity.
MALE TRAITS CHALLENGED: A controversial ad campaign launched by Gillette has sparked outrage among some and garnered praise from others due to its depiction of masculinity. Contributed

SHARP MESSAGE: Controversial TV ad challenges masculinity

BUNDABERG experts have backed an ad that's sparked controversy around the world because of its depiction of masculinity.

Shaving company Gillette was blasted with both praise and abuse after launching its new advertising campaign this week, which challenged society's traditional view of what masculinity looks like.

The ad, called We Believe: the Best Men Can Be, depicts news clips of the #MeToo movement, images of sexism in films and the workplace, bullying and violence between boys, with a voiceover saying: "Bullying, the MeToo movement against sexual harassment, toxic masculinity, is this the best a man can get?"

Within 48 hours the ad racked up more than four million views and a wave of mixed reactions.

But, in promoting a new kind of masculinity, the ad challenged society's stereotypical masculine traits, attracting a wave of negative attention, especially from men.

CQUniversity researcher Professor Matthew Rockloff, who teaches in Bundaberg, said the outrage some had expressed in response to the ad stemmed from personal misconceptions of masculinity with "toxic masculinity".

Gillette ad
Gillette ad Contributed

"There is a broad celebration in society of some traditionally masculine traits, such as competitiveness and assertiveness. Some of these traits of masculinity are held by many men as a core part of their identity," he said.

"The Gillette ad might feel, to some, like an attack on their value as a person.

"People may also be uncomfortably reminded of times where they have acted aggressively in the pursuit of romantic or other interests."

Bundaberg lawyer Edwina Rowan said the ad played into a new narrative about positive masculinity and needed to be seen.

"It promotes a really well-thought-out message, especially for young men and it's a new branding of the concept of masculinity," she said.

Ms Rowan said she encouraged people to watch the ad, which some have claimed was an attack on men.

Gillette ad
Gillette ad Contributed

"It's promoting some of the really good qualities men have and shows that times are changing ... we're moving toward a time where we're not excusing bad behaviour," she said.

Ms Rowan said the ad moved away from common cliches like "suck it up", "men don't cry", "grow a pair" and replaces them with images of decent, good, solid and upstanding citizens.

"They're our fathers, husbands, brothers, sons," she said.

Professor Rockloff told the NewsMail "In many cases, men can feel they they've operated according to a script that has been strongly endorsed by the culture, in movies, politics and by celebrities".

Gillette ad
Gillette ad Contributed

"The Gillette ad is a reminder that these norms are changing, and threatening what they see as valuable masculine traits," he said.

"It is important for people to understand, however, that these toxic behaviours are neither inherently or exclusively male and cause real damage."

What Bundy locals had to say

Tony Fitzpatrick
Tony Fitzpatrick Mike Knott BUN160119VOX1

TONY FITZPATRICK: "There is nothing wrong with it, I can't see why some men are reacting badly to it. I brought my children up in that sense. Some blokes might find it intimidating in the sense that they feel females are taking over in some respects and they can't do anything, but I don't have a problem with it."


Sharron Hancock
Sharron Hancock Mike Knott BUN160119VOX2

SHARRON HANCOCK: "I don't see why men would have a problem with the ad, unless they're the abusive type, then I can see why they'd be offended by the ad."


Dennis Rowatt
Dennis Rowatt Mike Knott BUN160119VOX3

DENNIS ROWATT: "I think it's a good ad and message. It didn't offend me, but I can see why it would offend some people."