Vegan Sausage Rolls & a Gillette advert. Cue: OUTRAGE

A vegan sausage roll! A VEGAN SAUSAGE ROLL!!! A baker’s that has the AUDACITY to sell a variety of savoury pastries.

A Gillette advert. A GILLETTE ADVERT. An advert that has the AUDACITY to suggest that we treat each other better!

Cue: Outrage!

Whatever has happened to the world we are living in? Why on earth is everyone getting so angry about the above?

Let’s start with the vegan sausage roll… have Gregg’s stopped selling meat sausage rolls? Is it unusual for a bakery to branch out and sell more than one product? If you are not a vegan does it affect you that vegans are being catered for? Is anyone who is not a vegan being force fed the vegan sausage rolls? Which leads me neatly on to the next point…

After a year of horrific allegations and convictions of high-profile men being convicted of sexual harassment and assault, Gillette put out an advert which suggests that men can help each other to be better men. Phrases like “that’s not how we treat each other” and “that’s not cool” are used to correct aggressive or predatory behaviour not just against women but against other men and boys.

The Sun has described this as a “vile man-hating ad” that is using a “wimpish new way into women’s knickers”. And that of course is the main crux of the issue and exactly why we need large companies like this, who have the money and the platform to put out such campaigns. The mere thought that being a “better man” is only as a means into women’s knickers is repellent and sickening, especially in light of all the harassment allegations over the last year and the hard-fought campaigns of #metoo and #timesup.

The Sun even suggests that the advert would have been better if it showed a woman “punching a man in the face”. How so? Are they suggesting that inciting violence across both genders would restore better balance in our society? Or has The Sun, like Piers Morgan, become a parody of itself?

Working on our current production of Measure for Measure, a play so astonishingly relevant and with so many incredibly 'modern' lines, has a line that continues to ring out: “Proud man dressed in a little brief authority, most ignorant of what he’s most assured”.

In a society in which the biggest killer in men under the age of 40, is suicide, with three quarters of suicide victims being men,  we need to start understanding that “toxic masculinity” is not a feminist stance nor is it an issue that only affects women. We need to learn that stereotypical masculinity; ie the idea that men should be aggressive, dominant, unemotional, and “strong” is as toxic and damaging to men as it is to women.

Two of the most beautiful moments of the piece for me in the Gillette advert were a Dad holding his toddler daughter and getting her to repeat “I am strong” and another telling two boys who are mid punch up “That’s not how we treat each other”. Why such a huge backlash to these suggestions that we treat each other more kindly and value self-confidence?

Now where’s that vegan sausage roll…

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