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.
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!
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?
The realm of housework has long been the domain of women. As such, advertisements for products used in cleaning the house tend to be targeted at women. However, in recent times these commercials seem to have taken up a habit of drawing a rather disturbing analogy between cleaning products and men.
One of my favorite examples (as in favorite to hate) are the series of commercials for the Swiffer cleaning products. Below are a selection of six, but these aren’t all of them.
The general theme is as follows:
Woman meets mop/broom/duster. Woman then meets swiffer. Woman dumps mop/broom/duster.
Now, there is nothing wrong with women ending relationships to seek out new partners, in general, but these commercials have a few parts which are really quite unpleasant.
First, the women in these commercials do not appear to be young, uncommitted girls. They are meant to seem as married women, cleaning their family home. Therefore, this idea of ‘moving up’ in relationships is shown within the confines of married life. So much for spousal loyalty.
Second, the commercials show a rather odd version of male objectification. Here we have an analogy drawn between men (feeling, thinking, breathing humans) and cleaning products (unfeeling, disposable items to be purchased and replaced).
The message of switching out cleaning products for new models is made uncomfortably similar to the idea of ‘marrying up’. These women are shown to do such without sympathy and without hesitation, while the ‘old tools'(men) are left alone and heartbroken. But they are shown in the form of mops, brooms and dusters, so there is no human sympathy there. It is a small step to have people look at men in general as disposable, replaceable and undeserving of kindness.
After all, don’t women deserve to have the best, most efficient model?
I would be quite entertained by a commercial which showed a man ‘moving up’ to a new model of, say, razor, leaving his old unit sad and alone, begging for forgiveness.
I would also be entertained by just once seeing a woman get banished to the couch, but now I’m just getting wishful.
Here comes the holiday cheer!
With it also comes a less-than-healthy dose of advertising.
I love Christmas. It is my favorite holiday. I eagerly await the start of the Christmas music and I wear my Santa hat through all of the month of December. What I do not like is the exploitation of Christmas for consumerism.
What I like even less is the degradation of men/fathers in these same commercials. Here is a prime example of the matriarchal consumerist society that is building up around us:
It seems like a fairly typical commercial. Tree, parents, 2.4 kids. All the trimmings. Then we see mom unwrapping ‘the big one’. A new TV!
But wait! Dad does not approve. It seems this happy couple had planned on not spending too much. He protests justly, but the Mrs. is not to be challenged. She tries to cover-up the argument by claiming that the TV came from Santa. Sorry, lady, kids ain’t that dumb. Neither is the dog.
Then the dastardly naredowell (husband) complains again, mentioning the recession. Yet again, the wife refuses to recognize his complaint and begins to grow angry and hostile. The next time he tries to comment, she cuts him off while staring him down.
Translation? My pleasure:
Shut the *** up, I can buy what I want and I know how to do it better than you.
The commercial ends on that happy note.
Hmm, what’s wrong with this image? Let me check my list…
- The man is ‘left out in the cold’, receiving no remorse, even though his partner went around his back and went against their plans. I don’t care how cheap Target is, a TV is a major purchase. She shows no sign of apologizing, even though he probably made most of the money being spent on the TV.
- His complaints are met with demeaning responses which do not recognize him as an equal adult. He eventually even gets cut off.
- He is shown as completely submissive, unable to even launch a real complaint. He just walks away weakly. If you look closely, he never even looks at his wife steadily, except at the end as he is left silent by her stonewalling.
- She makes no attempt to explain how she got the TV while staying within budget.
So what does all this leave us with?
The idea which so permeates American consumerism: women know how to shop and their command over finances should not be questioned.
No matter that men make most of the money. Obviously they do so by oppressing women, so that doesn’t count.
This idea is not portrayed only in this commercial. Look at advertising in general. Women are the shoppers, and men have a few roles they always play:
- They are the absent wallet. The woman does all the shopping.
- They are the silent helper, eagerly following his wife’s commands while at the store.
- They are the dumbfounded idiot, awestruck by his wife’s abilities to find great deals.
We don’t usually see a man opposing female-spending at all, but when we do we get a chance to see just how deeply they try to control it. At least she didn’t turn violent. And thank goodness they didn’t go so far as having the husband apologizing.
Enjoy your holiday shopping.