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.