Bozell & Graham Column: Gillette's Sexist Sermonizing to Men and Women

So who is the mastermind at Gillette that came up with the idea that the best way to sell men's razors was to insult your customers with condescending liberal propaganda about “toxic masculinity”? Is pandering to the perpetually angry feminists in the media the way to grab positive “news” coverage? Is online buzz the goal?  

If so, it must also be Gillette’s goal to have its customers rush over to the Schick display.

A century ago, Gillette ran ads in newspapers touting American soldiers of World War I using their product, the "clean fighters" of the Allied forces "fighting for clean ideals.” They were “millions of big, strong-limbed supermen... fighting to save freedom." Today, there are no strong-limbed men. They’re bullies and sexual harassers in need of castration.

Go ahead, try to tell us we’re exaggerating. Gillette’s latest ad campaign was lovingly introduced by NPR: “The first half of the ad portrays males as boorish, sexually harassing women, mansplaining and bullying.”

The second half insists on Social Change. The announcer proclaims “There will be no going back. You can't hide from it. You can't laugh it off, making the same old excuses.” A long row of apparently loathsome backyard dads standing in front of a long row of smoking charcoal grills echoes the excuse “Boys will be boys.”

Because somehow, in the last century, troglodyte men were bullies who never stopped bullies, and never taught their boys to respect women (including their mothers? and sisters?).  This isn’t selling razors. It’s selling an obnoxious, boorish political cartoon.

They would protest the ad says “some men,” not all men, are awful. But they’re man-splaining to all men, assuming they are all dim and in need of an education. So it’s comical that after these insults about male stereotypes, their website dedicated to this ad campaign insists: “From today on, we pledge to actively challenge the stereotypes and expectations of what it means to be a man everywhere you see Gillette.”

All you need are re-education camps. Big Brother, call your office.

NPR loved it: “Call it a new kind of corporate machismo, volunteering to march bravely ahead into the culture wars.” This may be the only time in its history that NPR has applauded “machismo.”

For grins, try to imagine Gillette marketing its Venus line of razors to women in this way. Imagine the reaction if these geniuses ran an ad against “toxic femininity,” saying the time is over for women to gossiping and bullying by women. NPR would go into spasmodic convulsions. The bra-burners would take to the streets. Women are presumed to be the victimized gender – oppressed by men (yuk!), not poisoned by testosterone.

This is an actual Gillette Venus ad script from October. The contrast is amazing. “It’s time to do things a new way. Your way. Without conforming to conventions. So that your skin writes the rules. Because no one gets an opinion on how you live your life, or why you shave.”

Yet more political sermonizing, and now the polar opposite of their male-bashing campaign!

The ad goes on to brag about how these ads are made by a “female-led team,” with women behind and in front of the camera. “We’re celebrating every woman, and her skin.” Celebrating “every woman”? They’re even celebrating the bullies? Well, “their skin writes the rules,” apparently.

There’s a word for these ad campaigns: vomit. Go buy a Schick, where men are men, women are women, and all they want is a shave.


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Brent Bozell's picture


Tim Graham's picture