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Gillette commercial sparks ‘manhood controversy’

Shaving supply company Gillette has stirred up conversations across the country with its new commercial titled “We believe: The best men can be.” The ad addresses cultural concerns about men, especially involving a new term called “toxic masculinity.”

Bubba Burcham, men’s ministry consultant for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO), said he initially was encouraged when he watched the Gillette commercial.

“I was excited when I first saw it, to be honest,” Burcham said. “I thought somebody was trying to champion what’s good about manhood. I don’t necessarily disagree with what they were trying to do, but I don’t agree with everything in the video.”

What concerned Burcham is the ad did not offer definite answers for the cultural problems involving men.

“I feel that trying to say ‘Let’s do something,’ that needs to happen,” he said. “Let’s do something about the current state of manhood, regardless of what everyone’s opinion is. I think a common mindset and message is something different needs to happen.”

The Gillette ad shows examples of men and boys mistreating other people either physically or verbally. The ad addresses the concerns of men harassing and abusing women. Burcham agrees these are concerning issues, but he said Gillette and others are coming from a different point of view.

“They are doing it from a secular point of view, and I’m coming at it from a biblical point of view,” he said. “Secular manhood fluctuates and changes all the time. You’re always going to go wrong. You’ll never get it right. Biblical manhood with the solid foundation, a solid mindset, you’re going to go about it right because it’s a consistent standard that hasn’t changed. Biblical manhood reflects the teachings of Christ that we can champion.”

Burcham said in order to find definite solutions to the problems involving “toxic masculinity,” it can only involve the example of Jesus.

“There’s only one man in the Bible who has ever done it right, and that is Jesus Christ. There are stories of other men in the Bible, and all of them have been failures. But they reflect examples of the grace of our Lord. They pick themselves up and keep fighting.”

Burcham put himself in the equation as a father of four sons and sharing how it is important for him to prepare his boys for what they will experience in life.

“If I don’t give my sons a vision of manhood then the world will, and that’s not OK with me,” he said. “I’m not going to stand by and allow that to happen. It’s what’s been done for generation after generation. You can look back and see where there were cultural issues when good men fighting for what they know is right.”

The Gillette commercial has appeared the same time the American Psychological Association (APA) has reported a new set of guidelines for men and boys. Burcham responded to APA conclusions.

“Boys want to fight, play in the dirt and be rowdy, and (APA says) it’s not normal. Well, it’s completely normal. But when left unchecked, not guided, no vision given, then it will turn out to be this negative persona that this commercial is talking about.”

Overall, Burcham is glad that Gillette produced the commercial. He said it is helping people to talk about manhood.

“It’s a conversation starter,” he said. “So many people are fired up about this commercial. They don’t like it. I say talk about it. What’s good about it? What’s bad about it? How can we fix the problem? Don’t complain about the problem. Do something about the problem.”

Burcham is the new coordinator for the BGCO’s annual men’s conference known as Men’s Rewired, which meets April 26-27 at Falls Creek Conference Center.

“What Rewired stands for is championing the cause for biblical manhood—at the conference and at the local church,” Burcham said. “We want to see men’s lives transformed by the Gospel and live out biblical manhood in the local church. We are trying to build resources to help men be active in the local church.”

For more information about Men’s Rewired visit www.menrewired.com.

Chris Doyle

Author: Chris Doyle

View more articles by Chris Doyle.

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