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Boys will be boys is no longer an excuse



This January, Gillette came out with a short film called We Believe: The Best Men Can Be. It would be an understatement to say it caused some discussion on the internet. It’s easy to get caught up in focusing on the detail specifics of individual scenes and clips of the video.

The video’s message is that some men need to step up and be the best man they can be because it’s not acceptable to ‘mansplain’ to women or cat-call anymore. The message included stopping bullying as well, and suggested that bullying and harassment are no longer acceptable just because “boys will be boys.”

Many of the negative reactions, shown in the comment section of the video and on social media platforms, focus on a few specific scenes in the video. One scene being discussed involved multiple men lined up barbecuing on a lawn collectively saying “Boys will be boys,” while two young boys are on the ground roughhousing. The follow-up scene is one of the men coming forward and breaking the two boys up as one starts to get on top of the other. Based on the comment section of the video, many people are upset because they believe this to be an attack on normal male behaviour. Some commenters ask, “When will boys be allowed to be boys again?” Others bring up how back when they were kids, they used to get into fistfights all the time and that it’s a normal and healthy thing for boys to do.

The video emphasized this scene because this type of behaviour shouldn’t be something people defend. We shouldn’t be defending kids hurting each other at all. Frankly, we shouldn’t be supporting or normalizing any type of violence. In terms of when will boys be allowed to be boys again, no one ever said they couldn’t be boys. The video aims to stop us using that phrase as an excuse every time a boy comes home with a bruise or a girl comes home crying because a boy went a little too far. It’s about boys and men understanding that the world is moving in a forward direction in which things that were normalized in the past like racism, sexism, and violence are coming to a turning point.     

Another point worth discussing about the video is that all of this was meant to be an attention grab from Gillette. Nowadays the best way to get noticed is to do something extreme or controversial. Gillette presented a new slogan for their brand, which they haven’t done in a long time. The old slogan was ‘The best a man can get’ and the new slogan is ‘The best men can be.’ Part of the reason they changed the slogan was for the 30th anniversary of the old slogan. It’s hard to say whether this was all about publicity and money. If the goal was money, it may have backfired due to how many people have decided to swear off using Gillette products until further notice (according to the many upset people on the YouTube comment section and on Twitter). If it was about publicity, then they definitely succeeded. They have the internet’s attention, be it for better or worse.

Image: Cory Jensen/The Cascade

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