Are we too easily offended?
It is a question I often have to ask myself, usually after some delicate soul takes umbrage at something I have said or, on occasion, written. Tune into any radio phone-in or log on to social media and you will hear people outraged by something done or said by somebody they vehemently disagree with.
The latest storm in a teacup comes in the shape of an advert for the world’s most famous purveyor of shaving gear. If you haven’t seen it, the premise is quite straightforward - it brings many stereotypes about masculinity, including the toxic, nudge, nudge, wink, wink aspects, firmly under the spotlight.
The video is Gillette’s response to the #MeToo movement and challenges its The Best A Man Can Get motto.
The ad calls out bad behaviour, including men leering at women in the street, chauvinistic nonsense in the workplace and young boys feeling the need to knock seven bells out of others. It also showcases the ‘modern man’, the kind of guy who breaks up fights and stops his pal from channelling his inner Benny Hill.
The response to the advert has been nothing short of breathtaking, with fuming fellas from Ilfracombe to Idaho claiming they will never buy the brand’s products again and that the company has turned its back on the very people who have generated it billions over the decades.
Last week the #boycottgillette hashtag gained traction on Twitter, with incandescent chaps posting pictures of products they were never going to buy again. The word ‘betrayal’ has been used quite a bit by those offended by this very clever piece of marketing. It is almost laughable that men who associate themselves with old-fashioned values and hark back to a time when unacceptable behaviour was described as ‘banter’, or its 1970s equivalent, are offended by this, as weren’t the ‘real men’ of yesteryear unmoved by anything?
As a bloke who has consistently come close to displaying old school masculinity, yet always fallen slightly short, I applaud Gillette for using its mighty brand to project the message that we are not all knuckle-dragging halfwits.