Boys Will Be Boys?

On Jan.13, Gillette released an advertisement addressing toxic masculinity among men in today’s society. The advertisement depicts men, ranging in age and background, and videos highlighting several of last year’s most talked about issues, including the #MeToo movement, bullying, and harassment.

All the issues portrayed, which are seen as a negative concept, are justified by the men in the ad with the phrase “boys will be boys”. After years of harassment cases, and physical and sexual assault accusations, it has become the social norm for men to behave immorally.

Towards the end of the ad, however, Gillette leaves a haunting message:

“The boys watching today, will be the men of tomorrow.”  

The advertisement received backlash on the internet as many audiences were torn by its message. Twitter users posted about the ad hours after it debuted. Some praised Gillette for speaking up about these issues, and stating that men should hold themselves and others accountable for their actions. The other half bashed the ad, saying it was completely misandrous. That Gillette is targeting men as the “villians” of society, trying to emasculate them and separate them from the male role models that they grew up with.

This brings up the question though of will boys be boys?

We live in a culture where movies, television, and music shape the views of individuals. This culture, however, categorizes masculinity into specific values that says it is ok for men to fight with others, inappropriately flirt with women because she’s just not into them yet, and display themselves to be as “macho” as they can be to gain respect and popularity.

It was only in the last several years that individuals started to question these outdated values. Victims of harassment and assault began to come forward to share their story. Schools, communities, and families began to talk to their children and teach them that it is not ok to fight, harass, and hurt others. Being a man is no longer about how macho you are. It’s about how respectful you are and how you conduct yourself towards others. I could go on about the many different definitions of what being a man is, but most importantly, it’s all about being a good person.

The Gillette ad, though receiving huge backlash and much controversy, began a discussion among people about these issues and is raising awareness on the evolution of what masculinity should truly be in a way that is not toxic or outdated. As the advertisement says, “The boys watching today, will be the men of tomorrow.” The way we conduct ourselves right now sets the example for how the next generation will behave.