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When a popular brand, like Nike or Gillette, makes a positive, liberatory statement in its advertising, it matters more than I would have thought. Of course, any blow-back from the ad tends to benefit the brand (otherwise, they would not do it; improving the bottom line is the ultimate goal, still and after all).

The evidence of how it matters came to me in this heartfelt message from my Niece. With her permission, I am sharing it here.

******

So I shared this (the Gillette Ad) yesterday without explanation thinking it didn't need one. My mistake. Based on the controversy I am seeing, clearly it needs explaining. We can go back and forth and debate how advertising treats, respects, disrespects men/women all day long. Women have a very long history of truly insulting advertising to pull from. But here's the thing: There's nothing insulting about this advertisment. Gillette knows not all men are pigs. Most women would concur that not all men are pigs. We KNOW this! That isn't the point of this commercial at all. So hear me out.
What this commerical is asking, what the women in your life, GOOD MEN, are asking, is that you not silently wince when you are in the minority. When a co worker, a friend, an acquaintance makes a sexist, racist joke bullies another, don't silently wince, don't dismiss it, respectfully call that BS OUT! "Hey, Man, not cool. Not funny." No, we women, Gillette, do not believe that this commerical is going to suddenly make the jerks and the mean men in the world do a one eighty and rethink their ways. But you know what might? Seeing, hearing GOOD MEN, you, our husbands, our fathers, our brothers, our sons speak up and say "Not cool, not okay." Make the wrong uncomfortable for them instead of shifting uncomfortably in silence. So they don't take the message to heart, they scoff, what's the point? Why bother? Because your sons, your daughters, your younger co-workers, because others are watching. Because you can help shape the next generation into GOOD MEN. And when enough of the good men in our lives do that, when they set that beautiful example for the young generation maybe, just maybe future generations won't have to fight as hard for equality and respect for all. Maybe the good men and women will make the bad men and women feel uncomfortable enough that we don't have to explain why those jokes, that bullying, those racists undertones aren't okay because most will already know. Wouldn't that be nice?
So men, instead of being offended that Gillette is assuming the good men are listening and willing to speak up with them, be offended at the other guys. You want to get offended at advertising? Go ahead. Be offended at the beer commercial that assumes all men are pubescent boys worshipping endlessly at the altar of alcohol, sports, and sex. Be offended at the commercial that says buy our product and have sex with allllllll the women you want, that's what they're there for and you are just following your instincts, an animal with no deeper thought or context. Be offended at the commerical that suggests that you are too ignorant to be useful to your wife. Be offended at the commerical that shrugs and says "Boys will be boys, why bother?" Don't be offended at the guys and women who think you should expect better from your advertising. Don't be offended at the ones who believe and expect that you can be and ARE better than that. Yes, men need to be better represented in advertising. So what do you say men? Are you ready to speak up against the real offenders, the ones who treat you like base animals who just follow your hormones? Women have managed to get better representation in advertising. Oh, it's not perfect but I am pretty sure that an ad of a man spanking his wife for dinner not being ready wouldn't fly today. That was a real advertisiment. Why are those no longer the norm? Because women SPOKE UP. So men, good men, please, we invite you: SPEAK UP. Speak up against sexism, racsim, violence, bullying in advertisement and in your work place, your hang out places, wherever you see it. But don't get angry when we ask and expect better of you. Be mad at the ones who don't.