First, I’ll speak up in agreement to the way @EmilyQ put things. Very insightful without coming across as self-righteous.
As far as the commercial itself goes, I would wager that a lot of the people who are up in arms about it weren’t the scrawny, geeky, asthmatic little kid who was frequently having the shit beat out of him by the ‘boys who will be boys’. I was, and having a dad who was a typical ‘alpha male’ type but who was a good man, he tried to teach me to fight and toughen me up, but he had no perspective to empathize with what I went through. He never felt the terror of being the littler, weaker kid who was being held down powerless while a bigger kid whaled on him. Oh, and this lasted all the way into high school, when I got my leg broken by a bully football player who had about 100# on me, who slammed into me from behind as I walked away from him. My tibial shelf on my right knee was sheared off, and when I went to the office the coach told me to ‘walk it off’. There were never any consequences for the asshole who did it. I’m 54 now, and my knee has never been the same. I’ve been punched, spit on, held down and kicked, often in front of the adults who were supposed to be there to protect me, and there were never any consequences to the perpetrators other than a stern talking to, or occasionally ‘licks’, since I went to school in East Texas where corporal punishment was a thing, but that the assholes wore as a badge of honor when it happened to them.
Of course, #notallboys, and I had some good friends, some from among the same crowds of football players and other jocks, and they were the ones who protected me more than any of the adults, and who made sure there were occasionally real consequences for the bullies. In fact, the majority of kids are good kids, but adults tend to forget what that part of life was like, or they don’t know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of bullying, and they either consciously or unconsciously turn a blind eye to what’s going on, or it just looks a lot more innocuous than it really is.
As far as the bad behavior around women, in my experience it’s a lot more pervasive than people want to admit. I remember being in my cousin’s house as a teenager, me and my brother, and my cousin was in the bedroom with his girlfriend, no parents around, and I heard my cousin yell loud enough to be heard in the living room through a closed door ‘Don’t you close up on me, bitch!’. This was what I considered to be a stand-up, normal guy. I don’t really know what happened in that bedroom, and I didn’t even dream of intervening, because he was one of those guys who in those days could casually beat the shit out of me. The biggest shame in my life, though, was the first time when, at a teenage party with plenty of drinking, mostly outside, I walked off to take a piss and came across a drunk guy having his way with a girl in the front seat of his truck. The girl was passed out unconscious, so there was no question of consent. I should have intervened but I didn’t dare, again because this was a guy who could effortlessy beat the crap out of me. I decided then that I would never walk away from a situation like that again, and I subsequently intervened and got friends involved when I saw something like that happen, but that shame has always stuck with me. The fact that it was something that regularly happened at teenage drinking parties didn’t strike me as out of the ordinary, which should tell you something in and of itself.
For the girls’ part, it was sort of accepted that if you got blackout drunk and didn’t have someone looking out for you, and something like that happened to you, it was your own fault and you just shrugged it off and went on with your life. Most of the girls and women I’ve been close friends with, the ones I was close enough to talk about this sort of thing with, have their personal experience of something like that happening, rape either endured and moved on from, or narrowly avoided, and never any consequence for the perpetrator. I realize this is anecdotal rather than statistical information, but I’ve got a depressingly large database of anecdotal information to work from.
I fully believe that the vast majority of the guys here are completely stand-up, and they would absolutely intervene if they saw something bad happening to someone. I’d say that most people who are active on these boards are in the top 10% of quality people who do the right thing as a matter of course. However, I also believe that a lot of you don’t have a lot of experience of being on the receiving end of bullying or assault, of being the weak, helpless one who can’t do anything but endure. You might not recognize the situation for what it is.
If I’m completely honest with myself, one of the reasons I decided to become strong is that I never want to be a victim again, and I will never turn my back if I see someone who needs help, and I want to be someone who can actually do something instead of look on helplessly or get the shit kicked out of me for intervening.
I’m not saying this commercial is particularly virtuous. Maybe Gillette is using the cultural moment just to generate buzz about their razor, and any publicity is good publicity. I think the fact that it’s generating conversation is a good thing, but the conversation on this site so far has been an echo chamber of people who know in their heart that they’re not assholes, but might not know what it feels like to be a victim, and might not realize how pervasive some of this stuff is because it’s not a big part of their lives.
Just my 2c, hope it gives a little different perspective.