What The Gillette Ad Gets Right

Who knew that a shaving ad could create such controversy?

If you haven’t seen the Gillette ad that addresses so called “toxic masculinity,” then you need to give it a watch. It has droves of men decrying the heavy-toned nature of it. While I agree with some of their concerns, I think the clip has added something to the zeitgeist that has been missing.

Where Gillette Gets it Wrong

The most common criticism I have heard is the ad’s language that says “some men already are” decent people. This is offensive to the male gender as a whole because many would argue that the vast majority of men are good men.

The guys I run with break up fights between kids, have little tolerance for bullying, and do not sexually harass women. We didn’t need the #MeToo movement to teach us what behaviors are inappropriate.

I can see why so many men are offended by the ad, but I think it has great value for a few reasons.

Where Gillette Gets it Right

While obvious to most men, the #MeToo movement has articulated what men should NOT do. What I like about the Gillette ad is that it gives some tangible examples of what men SHOULD be doing. They are things that most men would affirm, but that too many men passively neglect.

There is a significant rift between knowing the right thing to do and actually doing it. Paul spoke clearly of this in Romans 7:15.

Most men do not intentionally and regularly speak life-giving words to their kids. Most men are somewhat isolated from meaningful accountable relationships with other men. (Thanks Terry Crews!) Nearly all of us decry the sexual exploitation of women, but the vast majority of us (roughly two-thirds, according to a 2016 study) look at porn each month.

The problem in our culture is that there are plenty examples of men being terrible. Every minor infraction of “toxic masculinity” by a person in the public eye is proclaimed, talked about, and analyzed. Since Harvey Weinstein, how many men have “fallen from grace?”

We amplify the bad but there are limited platforms where we see examples of the good. Sure, the images and examples in the Gillette ad are a bit obvious, but there is an entire generation of young men coming behind us who don’t see things like that very often. That’s why I love seeing actual videos of a man helping two guys resolve a fight and a young father building up his daughter.

Our boys need clear examples of what true, descent, chivalrous masculinity looks like. They won’t know what they should be doing as men unless we teach them. Unfortunately, in a post #MeToo world, many will be paralyzed into passivity, constantly worried that they will make one foolish move and derail their lives. I appreciate the ad’s simple message that says “real men do stuff like this.”

But Is a Man’s Good Behavior All That Matters?

Another thing I wish we were talking about more in the public square is the difference between men’s behaviors and the condition of our hearts, particularly as it relates to sexual integrity. This is where all the “haters” of the ad need to be honest.

Too many men have fostered a secret life of sexual compromise but are required by our culture (rightly so) to maintain a public life of integrity and virtue. These men know the proper things to do and say, but that all goes out the window when nobody is looking.

This is most clearly demonstrated in the vast number of our teenagers and young single men who are devouring a steady stream of porn. They have a God-given sex drive but very little wisdom or experience to manage it. Oh, and they also carry around the porn delivery system that their parents gave them for Christmas. (Thanks, iPhone!) No wonder the top three porn sites get more traffic than Netflix, Instagram, and Twitter.

What About The Condition of Our Hearts?

While #MeToo has helped changed men’s behavior, the goal should not just be outward behavior change. The goal should be inner heart change. What the world truly needs is men whose hearts are pure and whose character is intact (and who follow the compass that God placed inside them.)

We can join God in this process of raising honorable men who use their strength for good by making clear to our boys what men DON’T do, but also by modeling what men MUST do.

Will our boys (and men) sometimes fail? Certainly. When they are willing to repent, we need to offer them a means for restoration and push them once again towards the right way to live. Our God is a God of second chances…that’s one thing that I wish the #MeToo movement would embrace.  

Helping Turn a Young Man’s Energy Towards Good

A recurring theme in the Gillette ad is a group of young teens stampeding through the various scenes. My takeaway is that this youthful passion has to go somewhere. If we can channel a young man’s energy into thoughts, behaviors and actions that are virtuous from an early age, then we are on the way to raising good men who don’t need shaving ads to preach to them.

Here’s a Shameless Plug…

If you feel the burden to help the young man in your life to be the right kind of man, you’re not alone. In our work with families, we often hear the frustration of parents who want to train their teenagers to not just blend in with their peers. They want to call their young men to a higher standard. We talk to dads who want to have these “talks” but who feel ill-equipped to do so. They don’t know where to begin.

Awesomeness 3D.jpg

These very themes (and many more like them) make up the bulk of “The Young Man’s Guide to Awesomeness.” We created a book that guys would want to read and that would open up some meaningful conversations between parents and their kids.

The “guide” covers three main themes: how to guard your heart (sexual purity), get the girl (principles for relating to the opposite sex), and save the world (keys to building a life of significance).

The book has an easy-to-read format, lots of art, and 25 QR codes that connect to videos that will enhance your son’s reading experience. There are also great discussion questions as the end of every chapter so that parents can engage in the process.


Guys from about age 13-23 will benefit from reading the book. It deals rather openly with issues like porn and self-gratification, so if you don’t think your son is ready for that, then you might want to wait. (But in our experience, most parents push these issues back way too far, thinking their sons aren’t dealing with them yet. They probably are.)

If you are looking for a way to introduce these “unpopular truths” to your son, then we invite you to put “The Young Man’s Guide to Awesomeness” into his hands and see what happens.


Over 6,000 parents have already bought this book for their sons. Here's some of what they are saying:

"My son laughed the whole way through the intro and then went straight to his room to read. He came out a couple of times chuckling and saying, 'He really knows how to write!' What a compliment from a 17 year old guy!! This book takes hard subjects and makes them teen boy friendly. I'm not telling friends to buy this book--I'm telling them to buy 10 and give one to every teen guy they know." 

"My 13 year old got excited when he read the title! Seems like that alone was a boost to his ego! He has been reading it daily. Since he loves technology, the QR video feature has been a huge hit!! He noticed that I read some while he was at school and he quickly let me know that women were NOT allowed to read it but has been enjoying "letting" me watch the videos with him. This is a kid who does not like to read but he has quickly taken to this book and really appreciates the humor and frankness!"

"Just finished your book and handed it to my 17 year old. All I can say to you is that I believe it is a holy book. It is by far the best written, most relatable stuff I have read in this subject area. Well done! Just love that you hit the real issues - BUT BEYOND THAT YOU POINTED THE YOUNG GUYS TO PURSUE GOD ABOVE ALL ELSE - not just 'Try your best to not watch porn and work real hard at being a good kid.' Again - well done! I am convinced God will use this work of yours!"

Barrett JohnsonComment