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Did Gillette and Jesus have it right?


Running off the back of the #MeToo movement Gillette launched a marketing campaign in 2019 that sought to address the presence of toxic masculinity in our culture. The short film forming the centrepiece of the campaign titled We Believe: The Best Men Can Be caused much debate as to how prevalent ‘toxic masculinity’ was back then and whether it required material focus and attention.


In lockstep with #MeToo, Gillette’s campaign seemed to signal a shift in our culture’s stance of how the genders should interact with one another. Fast forward three years and the actions of an Australian Rules footballer have recently come into the spotlight for all and sundry to judge. For those unaware this particular player was seen on social media making a crude sexual gesture and seemingly exposing a woman’s breast briefly in a Bali nightclub.


Given the cultural context I have just described one could expect to see loud and wide calls from commentators and the club in question for the player to receive substantial reprimand for his transgressions. In the days following the incident the conspicuous absence of such reprimand from general punter to key stakeholder felt rather strange. The penny eventually dropped for the club in question many days later and the player was fined $25,000 for his actions. He also apologised and pledged to change his ways.


Why was the collective response to this player’s behaviour so stilted and lacking in the days following? Could it be that gender has been deconstructed so much that the Gillette and #MeToo campaigns have simply passed into oblivion barely 5 years after they originated? Having logged onto Gillette’s thebestmencanbe.org it seems like a web page that is bordering on being archived, hardly testimonial of three years of transformational social change that the campaign pledged to achieve through various movements and initiatives. With all this lingering it is probably no wonder that anyone dared comment on the actions of this footballer. To do is to wade into gender politics which is an utter minefield at present.


So where to from here? Surely society needs to find a way to talk again on these matters and to not simply retreat. We need leadership from persons who are not afraid to walk through the gender minefield and to take the hits when they come. One person from history who exemplified this example was Jesus of Nazareth. He took on the gender constructs of his time and afforded women a level of respect that gave them equal standing with men which was unheard of in the ancient world. Those who profess to be Christian and male should feel the weight of Jesus’s example in their everyday and be the agent of change in male/female relations at every opportunity.


As Jesus challenged men of his time and Gillette in ours, us men are left with the very right, fair, and never-ending question. Are we the best a man can be?


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