Gillette: "toxic masculinity" under attack

A new Gillette advertisement calling on men to give up the aggressive, dominant, and sexually abusive behaviour that was often considered "typically masculine" in the past has stirred up emotions. The company is being praised but also criticised for its campaign on social networks. What makes the ad so controversial?

Open/close all quotes
Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Clever ad hits its mark

It's great to see a Gillette ad has managed to rattle the male world, Tages-Anzeiger comments enthusiastically:

“The Gillette company has declared its ancient trove of macho images obsolete: well, so much the better! Sure, it's about getting attention: today's clever advertising triggers gestures of outrage, it fertilises the spirit of discord in society, just as politicians do. The fact that all that is reflective and balanced gets ignored as a result of the sensory overload is a big problem, but it is not primarily advertising that is to blame. If companies from Nike to Gillette decide to present themselves as 'edgy' for a change, if they show an awareness of socially contentious topics - even if they're only faking it - we shouldn't complain. Quite the contrary in fact.”

Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

No reason to get hysterical

Der Tagesspiegel recommends that those criticising the ad on Twitter and other social media calm down:

“Many people feel attacked and start shouting at each other online, but no one listens. This shows that change annoys people and makes them feel angry. And that's okay. Nevertheless, we should try to take the steam out of this debate and perhaps start listening to each other. Those who react so hysterically when their own world view is called into question, no matter which side they're on, are clearly too easily unsettled. And they're the ones who shout the loudest, which makes any discourse difficult, if not impossible. But this topic is too important to let that happen.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Old school machos still in great demand

The much touted new masculine ideals don't appeal to women as much as many would have us believe, writes columnist Nirpal Singh Dhaliwal in The Daily Telegraph:

“The supposedly toxic male is an interesting conundrum, not least because of his definite appeal with women. Be it Don Draper, James Bond or a myriad other characters, the charismatic high-functioning zombie, dead to his own feelings and everyone else's, is a man many women are drawn to - be it through some emotional masochism or compulsive need to repeat her distant relationship with her father, or some other kink in her psyche.”

Ria Novosti (RU) /

Let the West grow weaker

Commenting on the commercial Ria Novosti points to the disadvantages of a society that forbids 'hard men':

“Stanislaw Lem described in his novel 'Return from the Stars' the happy humans of the future, who have voluntarily renounced 'toxic masculinity' - or simply renounced aggressiveness. Although these humans have retained their intellectual abilities they have stopped developing. ... For along with the despicable traits of masculinity (lust for power, subjugation of the weaker, anger, and unreasonableness), they have also lost the instinct to overcome boundaries and to dream of the impossible. ... To be honest, our backward civilization could hardly hope for better global competitors than nations full of men rendered completely harmless. It would be hard for us to succumb to them - even if we tried.”