Editorial: Gillette’s new ad reminds us to choose empathy over aggression

When kindness becomes politicized, civility begins to erode.

This week, Gillette released a new ad that covers a series of events where men encourage young boys to fight, catcall and help explain a woman’s input in the workspace. Later, the ad shows “the best a man can be,” showing men putting a halt to bullying, a friend stopping another from catcalling a woman in public and a father telling his daughter she is strong.

Gillette’s overall message was a simple one: Kindness and putting a stop to ignorance and other insensitive actions helps build a man’s character. When we choose kindness and empathy over aggression and incivility, we positively influence the next generation.

They’re not covering new ground.

In a polarized world, it’s a strong and relevant case to make. Their message should encourage anyone to better themselves and instill those same actions to their loved ones.

But instead, there was backlash. Critics of the ad dismissed it as an attack on masculinity and traditions. Many on social media declared they will not buy Gillette products anymore.

The point is missed when dismissing this ad. Combating sexual harassment, violence and derogatory humor is not emasculating. It’s being a good person.

Taking the time to improve societal norms by encouraging something as simple as civility makes us all better humans.

Now, we’re not fooled. Gillette isn’t promoting this message just for social reasons — it is cashing in on an increasingly effective marketing strategy by capitalizing on social issues. But this doesn’t make the sentiment any less consequential.

The commercial included a portion of actor Terry Crews’ June 2018 testimony to the United States Senate Judiciary Committee, when he made a simple but powerful statement.

“Men need to hold other men accountable,” Crews said.

It’s not about pitting people against men or masculinity, and it isn’t a political issue.

It’s about calling out actions that are wrong regardless of who commits them.

The Shorthorn Editorial Board is made up of opinion editor Jacob Reyes; Editor-in-Chief Reese Oxner; associate news editor Amanda Padilla; Carmina Tiscareño, life and entertainment editor; social media editor Narda Pérez; Shay Cohen, copy editor and multimedia journalist; and Zaria Turner, life and entertainment reporter.

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