Gillette Advertisement Controversy

Good on Gillette: it would be hard to deny that male aggression has played a vast and malignant role in our history.

With a few notable exceptions, women are absent from the long list of torturers and tyrants who have blighted our society through the ages.

Consider whether the following list sounds likely:

Polly Pot

Adolfe Hitler

Karen Khan

The Noreen Conquest.

Fine, so we have had the occasional Lizzie Borden. And there were some pretty unattractive female guards in the Nazi concentration camps. But by and large violence and aggression is a male characteristic and it isn’t his fault. It’s in his genes. It’s called “evolution” and anyone with even a passing interest in the biological origins of animal behavior, should watch all the way through the superb lectures of Robert Sapolsky, Stanford Professor of Neurology and of Neurosurgery.

I consider the Gillette Advertisement meet and right because unless we acknowledge and recognize the problem we can not deal with it.  Once we accept that this sort of behavior has been foisted on us by nature, the next task is to agree, as a society, and as individuals, that it is wrong. It is not just about bullying women (although that of course, as well as the question of female equality, needs addressing rapidly).

The problem is far more basic. We need to acknowledge that aggression is wrong, whoever the victim is. Animal, vegetable or mineral. Or female. Once we (both men and women) universally condemn violence the next stage is to combat it. Laws are all well and good but psychological acceptance is equally if not more important. As individuals we must first accept such behavior as wrong and then stop it, in ourselves and in others.

In the distant future it seems highly likely that we will be able to edit violence out of our genes. And in my opinion we should. If we accept we want to get rid of it we should start now.  At present its always going to be touch and go. Not everyone will accept that violence is wrong. But as violence becomes socially outlawed by education and other means such as the Gillette initiative, like smoking it should gradually die out. And should we ever be able to alter our genes, well then, perhaps we will all agree that we should.

In general I am deeply skeptical of the capitalist economic model, even though I have no ideas as to how or with what we can replace it.  I do not like nine tenths of the planet being owned by Jeff Bezos but while it is, I applaud this effort by Gillette to reach towards a better world.  Being cynical I suppose they just want our dollars, but if so, then in my book they are at least asking for them in the right way.

Bravo Gillette!



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