Gillette ad shows the changing standards for being a male hero?

I recounted my Costco conversation (see yesterday’s post) about the Gillette ad on Facebook. A cousin in her 20s responded

As someone with a daughter you should be happy about this. The whole purpose of this ad is to show men they can be kind and loving. Which I know you want for Greta. It’s shedding the awful stigmas that have been pushed onto men.

To me the ad was absurd. The situations in which the men found themselves entailed no personal risk and no consequences for action versus inaction. One young man says “not cool” to a same-age friend who is considering pursuing an attractive young woman on the street (maybe “it might be expensive” would be more effective?). A full-sized adult male separates two young boys who are wrestling/fighting on the grass. Shoveling the front walk after the weekend’s snowstorm is more challenging than what any of the guys in the video are doing.

What kind of conduct was valorized when I was this cousin’s age? Roger Olian and Lenny Skutnik were warm and dry prior to deciding to dive into the icy Potomac River to save people from Air Florida 90. They took a huge risk that was in no way related to their jobs or responsibilities. Nobody would have criticized Olian from staying in his warm truck or Skutnik for staying in his warm coat and boots on the shore. That’s not “the best a man can be” anymore, though!

The Thai cave rescue presented a similar situation in 2018. The “over 100 divers” (were they all men?) who went in would not have been criticized for staying home, right? Saman Kunan, a former Thai Navy SEAL who died, was “working in security at the Suvarnabhumi Airport when he volunteered to assist the cave rescue.” Surely at least one of those 100+ divers identifies as a man and is (or “identifies as”?) a Gillette customer. Yet to resonate with young consumers, Gillette decided that men dealing with children on grass was more powerful than men leaving their cozy homes, flying to Thailand, and pulling children out of miles of flooded cave.

I wonder if the debate about the Gillette ad is actually a debate between generations. My young cousin had a completely different impression than I did. So Gillette wasn’t clueless. They just don’t care about older customers who are stuck with a 1970s/1980s concept of achievement.


  • Dorco Pace 7, the Korean-made shaving system for the non-woke and/or elderly
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Gillette versus Dorco Shaving Test 1

The controversy over Gillette’s recent “toxic masculinity” ad campaign got me curious about the state of the art in razor blades.

Test 1:

  • three days of growth
  • no shower beforehand
  • warm water applied with cloth
  • Edge shaving gel
  • Dorco Pace 7 on right side of face
  • latest and greatest Gillette Fusion 5 ProShield with FlexBall on left side of face
  • brand new cartridges in both handles


  • Dorco: slight pulling/grabbing sensation at times, no trouble shaving under nose despite lack of single blade in the back, no nicks
  • Gillette: less resistance, one nick

Winner: Draw. Equal smoothness of face on both sides.

[Separately, from Friday:

Costco cashier assistant (looking at roses in cart): “What’d you do?”

Me: “If you’ve seen the Gillette ads, then you know that simply existing as a man is reason enough for apologizing.”

Assistant (in her 60s): “Aw. That’s not true. We need men.”

Cashier (in her 30s): “I’m doing fine without. The only thing that I miss is the dual income.”


Readers: How much better could Dorco do in the U.S. if they didn’t market their flagship under the name “Dorco”?


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You didn’t build that, Jeff Bezos edition


Admittedly, MacKenzie’s role in the history of Amazon may not be as crucial as the existence of the World Wide Web. Then again, it’s hard to say for sure.

See also, my review of The Everything Store.

(The book describes Mrs. Bezos as providing some assistance, such as bookkeeping or getting shipments out the door, during the first years of Amazon, but then exiting the workforce. She is mentioned on page 22 as having a degree in English and “targeting” Jeff Bezos for marriage, on page 27 as “supporting” Jeff Bezos in moving from NY to Seattle, on page 39 as driving boxes to UPS, on page 40 as depositing checks, and on page 60 as attending a 1997 post-IPO party. There is no mention of MacKenzie Bezos as having had any role in the management or operation of Amazon after 1997.)


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What if Planned Parenthood offered free abortions to employees?

“Planned Parenthood Is Accused of Mistreating Pregnant Employees” (nytimes) is about an employer that prefers non-pregnant to pregnant employees:

Discrimination against pregnant women and new mothers remains widespread in the American workplace. It is so pervasive that even organizations that define themselves as champions of women are struggling with the problem.

That includes Planned Parenthood, which has been accused of sidelining, ousting or otherwise handicapping pregnant employees, according to interviews with more than a dozen current and former employees.

What would happen if the managers at Planned Parenthood admitted their bias and offered free on-site abortions to employees?


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Could a man have shared this on Facebook and kept his job?

A big law firm partner shared the following (friends-only) on Facebook:

I have something to say to all the young girls out there.

Love yourself. Appreciate your body. Tell yourself that you are beautiful every day.

Are you listening?

It’s important.

I’m telling you this because you don’t realize you are going to get so, SO much fatter over the next 20 years. Oh my god. So fat.

This litigator identifies as a woman (I’ve worked for her as an expert witness and her version of femininity is not a meek one!). What if a high-performance professional identifying as a man shared the above? Would that be a career-killer?

Separately, I hope that this discussion encourages everyone to eat candy in moderation. Happy Halloween!

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Andrew Cuomo will use a $12.5 million Sikorsky S-76 to place a glass ceiling over Cynthia Nixon?

“Cuomo Often Takes Taxpayer-Funded Planes and Helicopters, Far More Than Other Big State Governors” (nytimes):

Much of the governor’s recent state-funded helicopter travel has been on a used Sikorsky 76-D, which cost New York taxpayers $12.5 million last year. The state comptroller initially rejected the request, which was made by the State Police through a noncompetitive bid.

The comptroller’s office cited the discrepancy between how Sikorsky described the helicopter’s configuration — “for a deluxe executive mission” — and how the police described its purpose.

(Note that Donald Trump also operated the Sikorsky S-76, but, prior to becoming president/dictator he flew in an older model that can do more or less the same mission at a capital cost of $750,000.)

It’s primary day in New York. If Mr. Cuomo prevails over Cynthia Nixon I wonder if the two will agree to a glass ceiling ceremony in which the incumbent governor, and champion of women, calls in the S-76 to place the ceiling over Ms. Nixon’s head. That would dominate YouTube!


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Social justice = replacing a slate of white male directors with white female directors?

A reader sent me these amusing portrait galleries:

I wonder if everyone will view these all-white (plus one token) groups as progress…

[Related: During the 2008 Presidential race, a (short) Massachusetts female friend said, regarding my primary vote for Obama, in a disgusted tone of voice, “What a surprise. You voted for another tall man.”]

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Voters heed Democrat call to push an older white guy out of Washington…

… but it turns out that the first step to tearing down the white patriarchy is voting out a Massachusetts Democrat, perhaps not the intended result!

Michael Capuano spent 20 years in Congress, most recently comfortably and apparently securely ensconced in the bizarrely shaped Massachusetts 7th district. He virtuously denounced Donald Trump, including with threats of impeachment (“it’s more important to follow your heart than do the practical or political calculation”).

Capuano expressed outrage at the Trump Administration’s separation of people claiming to be under 18 from accused illegal border crossers claiming to be their parents. While focusing his attention on separated children 2,000 miles away, he was defeated by Ayanna S. Pressley, a woman roughly 5 miles away who had previously been separated from her father by a divorce lawsuit ( (also, Wikipedia says she lives with a stepdaughter, i.e., a child who is separated from at least one parent much of the time.  So Capuano overloooked two local children separated from parents!) Pressley’s Boston City Council web page:

career has been marked by history-making campaigns and a relentless determination to advance a political agenda focused on women and girls and breaking cycles of poverty and violence. … diversify economic and wealth building opportunities for women and people of color, and strengthen support services for families of homicide victims and sexual assault survivors. In 2013, she formed the Elevate Boston coalition to ensure issues uniquely impacting women and girls and the LGBTQ community were part of the 2013 Boston mayoral race debate.

I wrote “Should Republicans run only black women for Congress and Senate?” back in June, but now it seems that Democrats will beat the Republicans to this goal line.

[Capuano used to be Mayor of Somerville. The current mayor has been in the news lately for boycotting our local Sam Adams beer in favor of foreign-owned beer after the Sam Adams founder said some kind words about the Trump tax cuts, e.g., “I mean, Americans — I’m the largest American-owned brewery at 2 percent market share. We were paying 38-percent taxes. And competing against people [the 85 percent of the industry that is foreign-owned] who were paying 20. And now we have a level playing field, and we’re going to kick their ass,”]

In other Massachusetts primary news, the one state official who has gone on record as being in favor of 50/50 shared parenting (the default under the law in Alaska, Arizona, and Nevada; the default in practice or via guidelines in Delaware, Pennsylvania, etc.; see Real World Divorce for the details) was attacked for her Governor’s Council position. Marilyn Devaney, for example, opposed the nomination of a divorce litigator (Maureen Monks) to a family court judgeship after it emerged that she had represented only one male client in a courtroom during her multi-decade career (source). (There is no indication that Devaney is hostile to female judges; she was enthusiastic three years later about a female Supreme Judicial Court nominee: “Lenk to be first openly gay SJC justice”)  Some folks who had been successful plaintiffs in winner-take-all custody and child support lawsuits here in Massachusetts turned out with signs in at our local polling station to oppose Ms. Devaney. Their choice was Nick Carter, a white male whose web site indicated that he was primarily running against the hated occupant of the White House: “I want to ensure that whatever Donald Trump and his Department of Justice attempt to force on the states, the judiciary here in the Commonwealth is deeply committed to upholding the rights of all our citizens.” Mr. Carter won our suburb, but Ms. Devaney prevailed in the complete district 56/44.

Another candidate who ran against Donald Trump actually won. Jay Gonzalez will be the Democrat opposing the incumbent Republican(!) governor. The “On the Issues” section of his site:

AIMING HIGH ON THE OPIOID CRISIS [not Trump-related, but I love this turn of phrase]

President Trump has disparaged and discriminated against people of different ethnicities, backgrounds, religious beliefs and genders, and he has stoked fear in their communities. President Trump’s unconstitutional Muslim travel bans and increased raids to detain and deport immigrants have been particularly harsh, disruptive and fear-provoking for immigrant communities across the country and across Massachusetts.

Climate change is the biggest threat to our planet and to our future. President Trump is taking us in the wrong direction on climate change. As President Trump and the Republicans continue to take the country backward, it’s more important than ever that we have leadership here in Massachusetts that moves us forward. [Is it obvious that Massachusetts would be harmed by a warming climate? If someone decides to vacation here because Florida has been washed away or is too hot, that’s a positive for Massachusetts, right?]

The (popular) incumbent governor, Charlie Baker, is not mentioned. Perhaps this is due to our booming state economy (thank you, President Trump, for continuing to dump a river of tax dollars into the pharma and health care industries!). Mr. Gonzalez is passionate about women being leaders…

Women must be full and equal participants in our economy. For Massachusetts to reach its full potential, women must have equal career opportunities, equal pay, and workplaces free from discrimination and harassment. Women who work hard every day and contribute to our collective well-being should earn enough and have the additional support they need to provide for themselves and for their families. Women should be represented in leadership positions in business throughout our economy to ensure their full and fair participation at every level.

So he wants a quota system for women in business management, but is happy that two white guys will compete for the top state government management job (governor)?

He is opposed to the river of federal tax dollars that has made Massachusetts rich:

Today, our health care system is broken. It is too expensive, too complicated to navigate and inadequately addresses the health care needs of our residents.

Our local hospitals and pharma companies complained to him that our health care system is “too expensive” and they want to accept lower prices from the central planners in Washington, D.C.?

Large swaths of the ballot was reserved for sinecures such as Register of Deeds (example guy who was getting paid $110,000 per year back in 2015 and working four hours per day; I think the pay has now been bumped to $142,000/year). The general election ballot should be even tamer, with most victors of the Democrat primary running unopposed.

Readers: What’s going on in your states? Are the white male Democrats who’ve been decrying white patriarchy losing their jobs? Are local and state candidates whose jobs have nothing to do with the Federales campaigning against Donald Trump?

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Is it bad that men and women are evaluated differently?

In the past month or so I’ve looked at a bunch of articles about how men and women are evaluated differently.

Then Matt Guthmiller showed up to a talk that I was giving at MIT. He is an MIT sophomore and the youngest person ever to fly around the world. He did his trip in a piston-engine unpressurized Beechcraft Bonanza with rear seats replaced by a ferry tank. The longest leg was 16 hours (American Samoa to Hawaii). He was by himself. I asked him how successful he’d been at getting speaking engagements from business groups eager to have him inspire their workers about self-reliance and decision-making under pressure. It turned out that Amelia Rose Earhart, who did a round-the-world trip is in much higher demand as a speaker (video example). Let’s compare the two achievements.

Guthmiller was 19. Nobody younger had ever flown around the world. Earhart was 31 (but in great shape!) and journalists reported that she was the youngest woman ever to fly around the world, ignoring Richarda Morrow-Tait (who did the trip at age 25, leaving her husband and toddler daughter behind in 1948; Morrow-Tait returned home pregnant with her navigator’s child. In 1951, her husband was successful in divorcing her on the grounds of adultery, but Richarda got custody.).

Guthmiller flew solo in a plane that has to go through the weather. Earhart flew with Shane Jordan, a former Pilatus factory pilot and flight instructor, a man with 4500 hours of experience with the Pilatus PC-12, the $4.7 million turboprop that they flew (courtesy of Pilatus and Honeywell!). The PC-12 is a single-pilot aircraft, which means that from a legal point of view Jordan could have done the trip without anyone else on board the aircraft. From an FAA point of view, Amelia Rose Earhart was essentially a passenger. The PC-12 can fly at 30,000′, which is above much of the nasty weather that Guthmiller had to fly through at 10,000′.

In the case of “What do you have to do to impress people with a round-the-world trip?” it seems that women have to do much less than men. If the articles cited above are right, women have to do more than men in other arenas, or at least do things differently to succeed.

But then I thought that perhaps this is actually a good thing. If there were truly one set of standards for everyone, what would be the point of all of the money and effort that companies put into “diversity”? If the tests were comprehensive and perfectly fair, all workers would converge to having the same behaviors and characteristics, sort of like what happens with Ivy League students. At that point there is no diversity in behavior or attitude.

Another way to say this is “If we rewarded women for acting just like men then why wouldn’t they all act just like men and thus eliminate any benefit to hiring women?”


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