Welcome to Part 2 of my look at Dockers’ “Wear The Pants” ad campaign. Part 1 can be read here. For reference, here is the ad again:
Now, as I said, the ad is a call for men to take back up their old ways of strength and leadership. However, it is not so much a call to arms as a challenge. It does recognize that men were stripped of their place in society, but it also saddles them with 100% of the responsibility for setting things straight. It ignores what the cause of the problem might have been, instead demanding that men just fix it by acting like real men again. In medicine it is considered bad practice to treat the symptoms without treating the cause, but that is what is happening here.
Here the cause is society, as a whole, which needs to change, but men can’t be made totally responsible for changing it. We aren’t all Hercules.
This ad’s sentiment is echoed by many public figures, like President Obama, who has given calls to men to ‘step up’ and become better fathers. That is unreasonable when you consider the world we live in. Men are being told to be more like traditional men, but those traditional men are hated by feminists everywhere.
When women were first entering the workforce, were they met with hostility for having not been working? Were they told to ‘toughen up’ and start ‘wearing the pants’? No, allowances were made, aid was given and support extended. Most of this had to come from the men who were in control of the workplace. If anything, they were given nice, clean pants. And they got to keep their skirts too.
Now let’s look at modern men:
First we have a nice guy who wants to be a better man. He decides to be more chivalrous and to take on more responsibilities of leadership. What might he get for allowances, aid and support?
- Allowances: Women might ‘allow’ him to flee before he gets torn apart (verbally and/or physically) for trying to tell them what to do.
- Aid: I am sure many women would be glad to ‘aid’ him in being chivalrous by taking every opportunity to exploit his politeness.
- Support: There would be ‘support’ for him doing all the dirty work, as long as he doesn’t try to claim any special privilege for doing so.
Now how about a more family oriented man, trying to become a better husband and father. What would he see?
- Allowances: He would probably be ‘allowed’ to take the kids to soccer when mom is tired.
- Aid: I am sure he would get plenty of ‘aid’ in the chores, like snide remarks about how he did it wrong and constant check-ups.
- Support: There are probably support groups.
The truth is this: women expanded their horizons with the assistance of supportive men. How can men be expected to do the same without the support of women? Men who wanted to see women doing more had to become feminists. Women who want to see men doing more will need to be masculists. That doesn’t mean telling men to man up, it means giving men back a position of respect and helping them to be proud of being male. Men don’t need to change to fit society, society needs to change to fit men.
It is unfair and misandristic to call on men to be ‘manly’ again without also calling on the rest of society to support them in doing so. That would be like suddenly calling on women to return to life as homemakers, without taking any action to allow them to make up the lost income from stopping work.
On the Internet, there is a word for such an idea:
And unreasonable, and impossible, and cruel, and…
Personally, I am a denim man. Nonetheless, I was interested to see the new Dockers Khaki ad campaign, dubbed “Wear the Pants”.
When I say interested, I do not necessarily mean enticed. I have mixed feelings about the ads, but before I continue here it is:
It talks about many old traditions of manhood. Taking charge, aiding women, not eating ‘sissy food’, etc., and how such things have fallen by the wayside.
One thing I do like about the ad is that it recognizes how society has begun to act like men are not needed, leaving them ‘stranded by the road’. It talks about a ‘genderless society’ and the struggle of boys to transition into manhood, specifically in a world which doesn’t clearly define manhood any more. This is a real and serious problem in the western world and it is very important that we make sure our sons know who and what they are.
It is very nice to see recognition for the role men play in the raising of children, the ad citing ‘children misbehaving’ as one of the world’s problems which have arisen since men were demoted. It clearly states that the world needs men, which is something that can be too easily forgotten.
It also acknowledges and respects the role of leadership men have traditionally played. No matter how you feel about the kings and leaders of old, you can not deny that it was men who took up that responsibility. I agree that through most of history, men have ‘worn the pants well’.
The ad is a strong call for men to step back into life and once again become leaders (or probably co-leaders) of their people. However, I am not entirely in love with this ad. Next time I will have a look at the negative side of it, including its unfair portrayal of men as wholly responsible for change.
Hello, all you Beard Reel readers!
Christmas has come yet again, the last one of this decade.
It has surely been a good holiday season, despite all the troubles of the world. The studios keep pumping out cookie-cutter Christmas movies and the nog keeps going down by the gallon.
Movies opening today for Christmas (and brief thoughts, I haven’t seen any of them) are:
- The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus: Seems quirky and potentially interesting.
- It’s Complicated: Label me a skeptic. I will be reading the synopsis to see how the whole love triangle turns out for all of them. All too often it turns out all too well for certain parties.
- Sherlock Holmes: I have always been a fan of dear ‘ol Holmes and this new adaptation looks quite promising. Holmes has always been a very strong male character, so I will be curious to see the modern spin on that.
Despite all the global warming bantering being thrown around lately, it is sure to be a cold winter this year, but we never get any snow here anyway. Besides, when it does get cold there is nothing like a nice hot fire and toasty beard to keep you warm.
Maybe we should all buy our bare-faced friends fake beard to keep them from getting a chill.
Merry Christmas to all.
The place of men in general housework has long been an item of contention. One of the stickier subjects has always been cooking. Most professional chefs are men, and yet cooking at home is considered the duty of women. This has been changing, with more men entering the kitchen, and this CuisinArt commercial could show such a change in trend:
Now, I will admit that some may find the commercial cheesy or even creepy, but I am looking more at the meaning than at the acting.
Here we have a married couple in the kitchen, their daughter doing her homework. Mom is busy preparing dinner in a non-specific fashion. Then comes over dad. He offers to aid his daughter with homework, but she (politely) replies “no”. Then he moves to use the Vertical Rotisserie. The young girl is amazed that her father helps with dinner, but he then goes on to proudly declare how he can use it to cook perfect meats of any sort. His wife comes up to support him, noting its health benefits, and the daughter then goes on to give her full approval of her father’s participation in cooking.
What we get from all this is a man taking part in domestic cooking. He enjoys it, he is proud of it and he is supported in doing it by both his daughter and his wife.
Now, I am not an average man. I don’t eat meat and I already cook plenty, but I can see how this sort of commercial could actually have a positive effect on encouraging men to join in the work of the kitchen. It is this kind of positive reinforcement from women which men need in order to feel confident doing something. Everyone wants to feel appreciated, that’s natural. Feminists have long complained about how housewives are under appreciated. They now want men to assist at home, but there is little emotional support for such. However, a lot of people’s view on such topics is influenced, maybe even heavily, by what they see in the media.
When it comes to getting men involved at home, as much of it has to do with women supporting them as with the men themselves moving past the old stereotypes within their own minds. Media like this (and matching behavior from family members) could go a long way toward integrating men into domestic work.
If we could get women to ‘hand over the keys’ of the kitchen to their husbands (provided the men have the time to take it up), I think many would be surprised by how well things could go.
In ancient times, sons often worked with and learned from their fathers. In the industrialized world, this does not go on so much. Men usually only have a chance to spend time with their children while not working, but even this is often difficult. However, there are some hobbies which are perfect for fathers and sons to take up together, and it seems LEGO is making itself one of them:
Here we have one of the classic accelerated-building LEGO commercials, but it is not one of the kits. It is a father and son team building a free form house. This brings back memories for me, as I have often enjoyed free-style LEGO building. But personal feelings aside, this ad also has many good points in its portrayal of men:
- A Father and Son Team: It shows a man and his son working together on a project. They are skilled (even if only at a hobby) and they complete their project well, both happy with their work and with one another.
- Creativity: This ad actually encourages creativity, something not often seen in advertising. It is free form building and the narrator clearly states that the two builders have differing styles, each bringing odd, imaginative components to the construction.
- Respect for the Job: It is often said that many men work too much. At the same time, many hobbies for men are mocked to some degree or another. Usually the only thing for men to do is sports, but that isn’t immune either. This ad shows a man doing and enjoying an actually playful hobby, and one he can do with his children, and he isn’t even made to look silly for doing it.
Scenes like this are what could actually help to get men back into their families. Many sons and daughters miss out on time with their fathers, either because of too much work or divorce. Men need activities like this they can do with their children to help bring them closer together, which could in turn help improve men’s relationships with their wives.
Men need to feel comfortable at home, with their families, so that they do not feel required to over-work. People often use the phrase ‘boys and their toys’, and men do enjoy toys, things of play, and helping men to have a chance to enjoy such things of play with their children could lead to much deeper family bonds.
The next step would be to show the hobby being done with open acceptance from women.
Hear that, ladies? The LEGOs are come’n into the living room!
It is said that man evolved from lower lifeforms, but that means we may still have more evolving to do.
The Top 10 Ways to Become An Evolved Man discusses this from the perspective of dating. How can we men act more ‘evolved’, improving ourselves to better attract women/mates.
However, I found that this article goes a bit deeper than that. All of its 10 points are themed around dating, but they are also good ideas for living a better, fuller life. Many of these ideas strike at the core of the many ways our modern society oppresses the behavior of men.
A few of my favorites from the list of 10 are:
Mentoring is a common part of human life, be it father to son, mother to daughter or master to learner. The idea of making a habit of sharing what you learn is a good one. Men are often made to be far too isolated and this kind of behavior can help open them up to others.
As I have discussed before, the practice of radical innovation has traditionally fallen to men (not that women don’t innovate). However, the modern soci-complex focused on performance can often drive men to be very fearful of trying new things for risk of failure. Those who succeed are those who are not afraid to fail. To achieve such a mindset men must learn to trust themselves and must be able to trust women to not be cruel at their times of failure.
A focus in life is very important. It can even make you live longer. Men are often driven to become so career-focused that they lose their real direction in life, becoming worker drones. Some life purposes once dear to men, such as fatherhood, have largely been taken away by society and we need to take them back. Climbing the corporate ladder is not a purpose. Leading a full and righteous life is.
Next are numbers 3 and 2:
Both say basically the same thing: stop pandering to the women around you.
Men have a natural tendency to be very accommodating to females, even if only out of a drive to breed, but this behavior has and is often exploited by women to gain power over men.
Numbers 3 and 2 are important lessons. No one should twist themselves in knots just to win approval from those around them. If a woman doesn’t like you as you are, don’t go changing just for a chance, and this includes letting her get away with anything. That goes on far too often. The ‘old ball and chain’ should be going both ways, not just one, or be done away with all together.
And so we come to Number 1. Truer words were never spoken. For several generations now, your standard piece of relationship advice for men is “just apologize”. The minute men started apologizing for being men was the hour of our doom. If she doesn’t have to apologize for staying out late with her friends, neither does he. Fair is fair and the road to a functional relationship is not one person always taking the blame.
Or maybe women should all have to apologize every time they talk too much.
No, then every conversation would end with a “sorry”.
The spirit of invention! Innovation! The March of Progress!
All these things have long been the realm of men. Through history, almost all the great inventors have been men. Even today, the great majority of patents are held by and awarded to men. Exact statistics are a little tricky to find, but most estimates will put the current level of male-awarded patents at 80-85%. Definitely a considerable majority.
Now, with that piece of information accepted, I hope we all understand the significant role men play and have always played in the invention of new technologies which improve the lives of men, women and children alike. Such inventive processes often take months, years or even decades. This investment of time can lead to incredible inventions, but the investors require support to reach such a goal.
With all that in mind, here is a commercial for Hanes Socks:
Here we have an average family, mom, dad and son. Mom comes home to find her husband dipping their son’s feet in a paste of his own invention, designed to make perfectly fitting socks. Her response?
That’s really stupid!
Now, where I come from (planet Earth), the word ‘stupid’ is generally considered fairly infantile and is not seen as appropriate for use between adults, no less a married couple.
After she calls her husband stupid, the woman throws him a bag of Hanes Socks and we see their son almost tripping because of the paste, thereby rendering the man’s invention completely inept. Ain’t that just sweet? I’m glad wives are so helpful to inventing husbands!
I can just hear Mary Edison:
Thomas! Why are you in the lab all day? A light bulb? Just light the blasted lamp and come to dinner!
Or maybe Sigrid Cerf:
Vinton, you dolt! The lawn still hasn’t been mowed. I don’t care if you’re working on the…the Inter-whatever! Turn off that computer-thingy, you know no one will ever use it!
Thaug, stop hitting those rocks together. I don’t care if it makes glowy specks, it’s not going to do anything to that tinder and wood.
I for one think the idea of spray on socks is interesting, if yes a bit silly. But if you could spray on a liquid which would solidify, protecting the feet but still breathing while being able to be peeled away…well that could actually be useful. Better yet, it might be able to last beyond a single peeling, allowing for instantly fitted socks which could last.
But, no matter what the invention is, no matter how outlandish, the idea of a person calling their spouse’s attempts at creation ‘stupid’ is insulting, at best. This kind of media disdain for men’s attempts to innovate is common, their work at inventing often shown as stupid, pointless and childish, even though it is those kind of projects which lead to the greatest inventions of mankind. I think a little respect would be due.
But maybe wives just need to learn from a bad experience. Maybe I’ll work on a pill to cure period pains completely, but then I’ll stop a week before completion because my of my wife’s complaints.
Sound like a good idea?