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What the New Gillette Ad Campaign Means to Women

The P&G brand points a finger at toxic masculinity to foster the “best” in men. What else can it do? Plenty!

“My wife—I think I’ll keep her!” “I’m Maggie—fly me!” “Manly, yes—but I like it too!” For midlife women who grew up hearing these sexist slogans (plus innumerable others about our bad driving and worse coffee), Gillette’s “The best a man can get” slogan registered on our collective consciousness as pretty benign. Still, who could complain about the razor brand’s new “The Best Men Can Be” campaign, which takes aim at toxic masculinity? Um, a lot of men, apparently.

Released last week, the commercial depicts men behaving badly towards women, as well as boys fighting and bullying, followed by denouncements of such activity. In just three days, it netted some 11.5 million YouTube views and 4.1 million views on Facebook—with much of the commentary by incensed men raking Gillette over the coals for the clip (at press time, it had 1 million thumbs down to 58,000 likes on YouTube). The backlash has called for a boycott of parent company Proctor & Gamble’s products and even an apology.


Good, Better, Best…

Ya think these dudes doth protest too much? Sure, “The Best …” is about as subtle as a sledgehammer, with sappy music and clichéd imagery of leering, grabby guys. But it’s not saying all men are like this, simply calling out those who are—and demanding change. Plus, P&G is putting its money where its mouth is, donating a million dollars annually for the next three years to nonprofits “designed to inspire, educate and help men of all ages achieve their personal ‘best’ and become role models for the next generation,” according to a statement.

Ya think these dudes doth protest too much?

All good. Now here’s the “but”: A three-pack of Gillette’s Mach 3 disposable razors costs about seven bucks, while the same price will only get us gals a two-pack of its Venus throw-away shavers. What’s more, a quick gander at P&G’s top executives shows nine men to five women and (surprise, surprise), three of the five run the firm’s “feminine” divisions. Perhaps P&G can be a bit more proactive at practicing what they preach, helping women be the best we can be, too.

By Nina Malkin


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