Congratulations to Australian director Kim Gehrig for her fine effort with the controversial new Gillette advertisement. It is gratifying to see so many men’s rights activists foaming at the mouth at the message the commercial aims to send.
With all this global coverage, it’s fair to say Gehrig’s reputation is sufficiently established enough to see her get a much overdue Wikipedia entry acknowledging her many industry accolades.
That said, I have a few reservations about the Gillette commercial.
The first is that women use razors too. Why is there so much emphasis on shaving as a masculine activity when women surely end up doing more of it? Prevailing social mores currently dictate that women’s legs and armpits and even pubic region should be hair free. And despite progress and change on this, the average woman no doubt still feels far greater pressure to remove bodily and facial hair than the average man. While male beards are currently all the rage, women’s whiskers are not.
My second reservation is that women still do most of the household shopping, including shaving products for the men in their lives as well as themselves. Then there is the added issue that women’s razors and shaving products are priced more extravagantly than men’s products, with Gillette charging more for its pick razors targeted at women than it is for its blue razors targeted at men. This is known as the pink tax. So, I suspect that Gillette is targeting women with this campaign, rather than attempting to change the minds of the MRA types, who are often already sporting beards anyhow to prove their masculinity.
My final reservation? I can’t help but have some sympathy for the complaints shared by some men vowing to boycott Gillette forever. It is not that I find men suffering from toxic masculinity attractive, but rather that if there is one thing worse than bad men, it is bad men pretending to be good. Some of the backlash is from men who have seen through “woke” culture and have smelt a rat. According to the Urban Dictionary “woke” is the act of being very pretentious about how much you care about social issues.
And we certainly don’t want to encourage men to pretend to care about social issues and present themselves as ‘good’ when they are not. Too often women are duped by men posing as progressives. An example is the undercover officers in the UK who infiltrated political organisations and frequently deceived women into intimate relationships, which often lasted many years, without disclosing their true identities.
In many cases, the good guy turns out to be anything but that.
Perhaps it is naïve to encourage men to be the best they can be, but full marks to Kim Gehrig for giving it a go.
Anna Kerr is a founder and Principal Solicitor of Feminist Legal Clinic Inc and a member of Legal Aid’s Domestic Violence Practitioner Scheme. She is also a member of the Women Write Wiki group that operates out of The Women’s Library in Newtown.