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Gillette trans ad kicks off Pride Month early with a teen’s first shave

Companies continue to take progressive stances towards minorities, at least through their ad campaigns.

In a recent Gillette Ad, a Trans teen gets a shaving lesson from his father. “First shave, the story of Samson” introduces Samson in an intimate interview style setting.

We learn about Samson’s struggle to figure out what kind of man he wants to become. The teen expresses his journey of understanding who he is starting from when he was very young.

He emphasizes the goal of being happy and how his transition was informed by that sentiment.

The next scene we see Samson’s father talk him through his very first shave. His father emphasizes the meaning behind shaving. It’s not just a grooming technique, it instills confidence.

Samson links shaving to manhood like most of us do and we understand why this is such a special and important moment.

It’s important to note that Gillette’s choice to include a trans teen of color is (unfortunately) revolutionary. The intersectionality is visible but not exploited. The ad is more about the importance of his journey towards manhood.

His father’s support and guidance are also at the forefront, and we need to see more of that. Of course, many disagree. They disapproved of the ad’s normalization of trans identity. The usual suspects took to Twitter. But others defended.

Gillette invites discourse about manhood with this ad like some of its previous campaigns. Gillette’s ad will likely spark more controversy much like it’s progressive ad/short film “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be.”

The short led to heated debate amongst men. Some felt attacked claiming that the ad painted them as predators and violent, chastising them. The ad did negatively portray certain masculine coded behaviors like catcalling and harassment and overall violence.

Others felt that this anti-violence stance was a needed one in the face of the #MeToo movement and rising fight for gender equality.

The Gillette trans ad continues the conversation of what it means to be a man as well as what a man looks like, sounds like and behaves like. Rejecting toxic masculinity, a progressive step that is sure to win many hearts.

If you think Gillette’s #MeToo ad is problematic, you’re the problem

Gillette has caught the ire of men activist groups and right-wingers after airing a new ad questioning their 30-year tagline “The Best A Man Can Get”.

The ad is a short film called “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be” and is a rebrand in support of the #MeToo movement.

Using clips of misogyny in cinema, at the workplace, and even in how we’ve normalized it with the adage, ‘boys will be boys’, Gillette laid out our history of ‘toxic masculinity’ and called out the predatory culture all men are guilty of being in compliance with.

Their message was the same as Terry Crews’ when he testified before Congress for the Survivors’ Rights Act last year: “Men need to hold other men accountable.”

The commercial felt good. Initially, I thought a prominent household male-brand stepping up in support of our women was a move in the right direction, but upon the video going viral, with more than 4M views on YouTube in the past 48 hours, it seems that’s not the case.

Men not only missed the call to listen to women and be the change but took offense, missing the entire point of the ad altogether.

Emmy-award winning actor and proud Donald Trump supporter, James Woods, says Gillette is guilty of “jumping on the ‘men are horrible’ campaign” and pledged to boycott its products.

Far-right magazine The New American attacked the advertisement’s message, saying it “reflects many false suppositions,” adding that: “Men are the wilder sex, which accounts for their dangerousness — but also their dynamism.”

Over the past couple of years, there have been fewer calls for social change bigger or as impactful than the #MeToo movement. Whether you’re looking at #BlackLivesMatter, #MuteRKelly or even #WomensMarch, you’ll be hard pressed to find a ripple effect bigger that’s been as influential.

Since #MeToo’s inception in 2017, women in industries all over the country have been encouraged with new bravery to out their abusers. So much so, The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Criminal Victimization reported that victims of sexual assault and rape were more likely to tell the police of their attacks than the year before.

Powerful names in Hollywood, like Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K. and Kevin Spacey to media personalities, like Matt Lauer and Bill O’Reilly, have been forced out of their positions of power and they don’t even scratch the surface.

Which is why it’s concerning and, dare I say, problematic, that the movement has received any backlash, nonetheless from men who are not only in positions of privilege but who are responsible for the need of the hashtag in the first place.

Gillette went into detail on the thinking behind the ad on their website, saying it was part of a broader initiative for the company to promote “positive, attainable, inclusive and healthy versions of what it means to be a man. The statement reads,

“It’s time we acknowledge that brands, like ours, play a role in influencing culture. From today on, we pledge to actively challenge the stereotypes and expectations of what it means to be a man everywhere you see Gillette. In the ads we run, the images we publish to social media, the words we choose, and so much more.”

Gillette also went on and promised a donation of $1M per year for three years to non-profit organizations with programs “designed to inspire, educate and help men of all ages achieve their personal “best” and become role models for the next generation.”

So, not only is Gillette talking the talk, their walking, too. Ads can get it wrong; just ask Pepsi or H&M. But outrage from Gillette’s #MeToo campaign shows nothing more insecurity and a lack of empathy that demands immediate attention.

#SurvingRKelly just aired on Lifetime and revealed that we, as a nation and people, have ignored the voices of the abused for too long. Among the gory details of his sickening antics, the docuseries showed us how the media, journalists and even fellow artists, continually failed women who have tried to tell us about R. Kelly.

We knew R. Kelly married an underage Aaliyah, yet it’s not until now, after the momentum of #MeToo, have women gotten enough resources to make it something we cannot ignore. If we ever we needed a wake-up call, as men, to stop the system of abuse, it’s now.

Not just men, but for anyone who sees the Gillette ad as a problem is problematic themselves. Gillette just took a step in the right direction and time for others to follow.