Ben Norris- Poet, playwright, and actor
To better define what it means to be ‘masculine’ in 2019, Ben drew comparisons and differences between himself, a 27-year-old millennial, and his father, a 65-year-old retiree, exploring how the definition of masculinity has evolved over time.
Ben highlighted how the ‘new’ generation of man have undergone a generational shift, making them more conscious of gender and the choices they make alongside it, and how they are more aware that gender now lies along a spectrum as opposed to concrete binaries.
“Someone may still choose to exhibit what you might call old-school stereotypical masculinity, but they’ll likely be more conscious that they are choosing to do that, and that that’s how they’ll be perceived.”
He illustrated this using Gillette’s recent, high-profile campaign “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be”. Whatever your opinion on the advert, Ben argues that the brand is a prime example of understanding the changing mind-set of their audience, and has raised the issue of gender being ‘worked’ on- sowing a seed in people that could prompt widespread change.
It also supports his point that children have gender ‘binaries’ ingrained in them from a young age, with adverts often being the first stories they are told on how the world looks like and operates. Knowing this, brands need to provide them with as many varieties of ‘stories’ as possible, so they are able to recognise from early that the world is evolving away from binaries. It also gives adults a sense of validation, as they can see themselves reflected in the media, which in turn ‘brings in’ and engages the consumer.