Miscellaneous

Dockers wants men to “wear the pants”

By: Alyssa Friesen

Photo from Dockers

 

Sporting bare legs and briefs, a flock of men trudge through a field of grass like lost sheep, letting the wind tangle their long unkempt locks.  With wild eyes and flailing arms, they sing, “For I wear no pants!  I wear no pants!” WEAR THE PANTS, flashes the script at the end of the clip.

Inscribed in form of a Man-ifesto is Docker’s new marketing campaign.  Using phrases like Khaki Diem, Man Hood, Behold the Dawn of the Second Man, it seems there’s more then cotton woven in a pair of pants these days, there is a deep-voiced mantra for masculinity.  It’s more than advertising, it’s a call for social change.

The campaign, launched in December 2009 in print, radio and social media, has its television debut set for February while masses watch the Super Bowl XLIV.  In an effort to make khakis the symbolic dress of the testosterone-loaded, awe-inspiring hero, the campaign literally and figuratively challenges men to order steaks instead of salads, as if leafy-greens have weakened their ability to save the day.  Kind of ironic considering Popeye the Sailor Man pumped his pipes a diet regiment of spinach.  “It’s time to wear the pants” the tongue-and-cheek line rolls, implying that men have traded authority and power -to women?  For this reason, some find that the campaign leaves a sour sexist taste in their mouths.

Jennifer Sey, global VP of marketing for Levi Strauss & Co. acknowledges the campaign has caused outrag
e, especially amongst feminists. However, while opportunity has never been more accessible for North American women, Sey says men are “off their game.”  Women are tromping all over men’s former territory in education, the job-market and social circles, reducing men to the cultural status of a man-baby. And so, Dockers are campaigning for male empowerment.


It’s a striking concept, considering women have fought for equality rights since the sixties and are hanging on whitened tooth and polished nail to maintain their positions in a world still ruled by male CEO’s and government heads.  While men may be suffering the bulk of the job layoffs, the female population survive on smaller salaries and men still claim the crème of the highest paying jobs.

So women have cut a wedge into male dominance in the modern world, but does that mean men should feel the walls of their identity are crumbling?  Perhaps it’s not time to put the pants back on, its time to accept that women wear pants too.  And they look damn good on.

The women’s answer to this campaign might sound something like this, as a parody of the original:

ONCE UPON A TIME, WOMEN WORE THE APRON.  AND WORE THEM IN TWO INCH PUMPS.  WIVES WOULD GREET THEIR HUSBANDS AT THE DOOR WITH FRESH CHERRY LIPSTICK ON A PERFECT SMILE, AND KISS THEIR MAN ON THE CHEEK.  WOMEN STAYED AT HOME TO COOK AND CLEAN BECAUSE THAT`S WHAT THEY DID.  BUT ONE DAY, MEN REALIZED THEY COULD MAKE THEIR OWN SANDWICH.  OR BETTER YET, GRAB SUBWAY FOR LUNCH, AND TAKE THEIR CLIENT FOR A STEAK DINNER TO MAKE A BUSINESS DEAL.  WITH NO ONE TO COOK FOR AND THE SHIRTS AT THE DRY CLEANER, WOMEN WERE TRAPPED AT HOME TO MORN THEIR GIRLHOOD DREAMS OF BEING A GOOD HOUSEWIFE.  BUT TODAY, WOMEN ARE OUT OF THE HOUSE.  WITH FRESH LIPSTICK ON A REAL SMILE THEY ARE FREE TO GO AND DO IN THE WORLD.  FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE THE PUMP, THERE ARE THE KILLER HEELS.  AND POWER BOOTS.  MEN STEP ASIDE BECAUSE SHE WIELDS A BRIEFCASE AND WALKS THE STREET LIKE A RUNWAY MODEL.  IT`S TIME TO SHAKE HER MANICURED HAND.  IT`S TIME TO ANSWER HER BBM.  IT`S TIME SHE DROPS THE APRON.

Also check this out for more info.

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23 thoughts on “Dockers wants men to “wear the pants”

    • Dialectic, it’s called dialectic. A sadly forgotten notion in a growing Us vs Them world, of which many fall victim to. As exemplified in umpteen “response” sections across the world wide web…and beyond. In truth, I have not read the ENTIRE discussion as it is; but, have been mired amidst frothing mouths and careless slashes too many times to accurately count. As such, after several responses were read I mentally included “ad nauseum” and opted to open myself up for additional critisizm, attack and, most assuredly, spelling/grammarical correction. Seriously, if I stopped everytime I paused to think; “wait, that can’t be right. Is that how you spell that? …no, can’t be.”, then It’d take a week to write an emailed response. As it is, I beleive this reply has taken me 45 minutes so far (however, I’m at work and furtively working on this bit of humour. So, there.). …but, I digress.

      The campaign is interesting and many thoughts arise after reading, Sure, one can take this and run the edge of a misogyny angle, while another can take this article and run the “oh please. Whatever, uppity women.. *mumble, mumble*” route; but, objectively viewed this is a poingant offering. We do live in a world where the majority would rather bicker over crumbs of purpose rather than build upon the crust of history.

      I can see the jest and the jibe about less than “manly” men, whatever the definition you decide to ascribe to the focus of this jibe. I can see the “what a man SHOULD be AGAIN” assertion. I can even see the “take it back, look what they’ve made you become” idea, more clear when Lady Sey extolls the way they played the spin and had their say.

      Mostly, I see that it’s become a beige tinted world toned down and docile. More and more coddled, more and more obedient to fitting into a mold, and more and more unable to take a stand for anything. Scared of shadows, low self-esteem tempered with an unjustified entitlement complex, delusions of grandeur or fame or riches, having to do more with less and accruing debt and doubt at all stops….any call for attention to these problems should be met with consideration and collectively creative input intended on furthering our social growth; not setting fire to anything we perceive as a threat.

      Megwetch,
      dMc

  1. I am a woman; a woman who believes herself to be a feminist (in so far as I believe in equal rights). I don’t find this insulting at all. In fact, I say “here, here” to Dockers for putting into words a moral outrage that so many men AND women probably have. It’s not saying women should accede to the rights we’ve fought hard for over the last 3 generations. It’s saying “enough is enough” to the commercialization of the “dumb husband,” and the “clueless boyfriend.” It’s championing common courtesy, chivalry, and heroic response. And if we as women, can’t adhere to our own mantra of equality, then we might as well be revoked of our rights and privileges to womanhood too.

  2. im·me·mo·ri·al ( m -môr – l, -m r -). adj. Reaching beyond the limits of memory, tradition, or recorded history.

    I love comments that can be mocked with a simple dictionary cut and paste. Don’t think McClung’s has been around that long.

    Good article, Alyssa!

  3. Ronak – I would have said more on Twitter, but 140 characters isn’t enough. Anyways, I’ll start. Do you think it’s a bad thing that, despite the male-centric nature of the ad, the behavior being encouraged is socially positive?

    • I have the same problem, as you well know :),but maybe not so much these days…with age comes widosm, hahaa. And thrifting. Style periods, choises.. for me,clothes have everything to do with being safe. When I look back, I see myself as a 20 year-old-happy-hippy-mum with long skirts and bare feet. Then the edgy-rock-survivor-single mum (“don’t come close to me, I’m heart-broken and don’t want anyone to see it”). And what about sneakers and baggy trousers, just to fit in my “gay-enough”-world. And then back to 50’s dresses and heels because I felt a sudden urge to be feminine, and thought somehow that it was expected from me.(I hate wearing high heals, really). It’s easy to see now why I made “mistakes” then, but how can one know if it isn’t the case this time too? I try to see things as a whole. I’ve noticed that I tend to keep something from each style-period… And from some reason, I’m now really drawn to everything ethnic, so here comes the hippy-mum again, after 14 years! So to keep this “confession” from becoming way too long; I think the best way is to dress the way one feels, not take it too seriously, have fun with clothes and try staying true to oneself, not trying to fit in or please someone else. And for those days when feeling low, or extremely happy, wear something that makes you feel safe and happy, something you’ve picked from flea market and loved from the first moment you laid your eyes on it. Like listening songs that you can sing from start to finish, or reading a book you know by heart. Or hanging out with someone who also loves strong russian tea, and knows every single soft spot in you.Miss you! Hope everything is going well with sweet Willow! Sis.

    • As with most kinds of insurance, QuotesChimp can lower your premiums by increasing the risk of loss that you will absorb yourself. In other words, you can save more now, but if you have a claim, you will have to pay more out of your own pocket later. This tradeoff can be done in several ways.

  4. Your history of compulsive online harassment suggests to me that your problems cannot be solved in a back and forth on a feminist blog. Isn’t there some other progressive idea out there that needs your pathetic dogging?

  5. If by harassment you mean calling you to account when you/the Free Press called me a racist, then guilty as charged. My first comment was snarky, yes, and I shouldn’t tar all of McClungs with that brush. I also know Ronak personally and am capable of having a civil debate with her – it wouldn’t be the first time either.

  6. In response to Emily I think that Docker’s definition of what manhood is very narrow and unrealistic – not all men want to act in the typical “manly” way they are presenting. What’s wrong with discos and sipping non-fat lattes? It’s a constraining definition for men to abide by.

    I also don’t see how your last comment fits within the ad’s discourse: “And if we as women, can’t adhere to our own mantra of equality, then we might as well be revoked of our rights and privileges to womanhood too.”

    I’d honestly love to hear more about this.

  7. Nevermind the dumb, superificial signs attributed as unmanly, like discos and non-fat lattes; the behaviors exalted in the ad, like helping old women cross the street and taking responsibility for oneself are infinitely more important?

    We ground our identity with so many meaningless signs (like what music you listen to, style of dress, brand of computer) so much in this culture that it’s easy to default to this when analyzing advertising. After all, they are trying to sell khakis by portraying them as chivalrous and macho. They’re nothing but fabric cut to cover your lower extremities.

    On the other hand, so many boys grow up without fathers or any positive male influence. Boys do not fare as well as girls in school, are incarcerated more often and suffer their own set of trials in adolescence. Perhaps promoting behavior that is socially positive isn’t such a bad thing, even if it isn’t 100% politically correct.

  8. “Women are tromping all over men’s former territory in education, the job-market and social circles, ”
    This is why we need to make ads like these? to make sure men are never off their games?

  9. I have mixed feelings about this one so I thought I’d analyze it line by line:

    Once upon a time, men wore the pants, and wore them well.
    Women rarely had to open doors (……because most were firmly locked and men held all the keys) and little old ladies never crossed the street alone. (no beef with this line, help the old people but help the old men across the street too!) Men took charge because that’s what they did (god given rights, natural order anyone?) But somewhere along the way, the world decided it no longer needed men (what human cloning has been perfected and everyone has converted to lesbianism? Also every woman now owns a stepladder and one of those rubber things to open jars?) Disco by disco, latte by foamy non-fat latte, men were stripped of their khakis and left stranded on the road between boyhood and androgyny. (I have a real beef atm with lists of things men aren’t allowed to do. They seem to be popping up a lot. I’m thinking that men may even be more tightly constrained in terms of gender expectations than women by way of the “masculine for everyone, feminine for women” modern day social dictum. If ya wanna go to a disco in flared jeans you bought in the women’s section an H&M and sip a non-fat latte in the corner at some latte serving disco club go do that, I don’t care. And androgyny is hot, for women AND for men) But today, there are questions our genderless society has no answers for. The world sits idly by as cities crumble, children misbehave and those little old ladies remain on one side of the street. (Dockers wtf? Men prevent natural disasters? Manly men are the solution to organized crime? Also since when are men in charge of childcare in the old school idealization Dockers are trying to create?) For the first time since bad guys, we needed heros. We need grown-ups (of both genders?) We need men to put down the plastic fork, step away from the salad bar and untie the world from the tracks of complacency. (see another effin’ list! It’s gonna be hard to save the world when you have high blood pressure, cholesterol and heart disease from all the red meat and potatoes you men are supposed to be eating) It’s time to get your hands dirty. It’s time to answer the call of manhood. It’s time to wear the pants.

    Shop men’s, shop womens. (wait wait wait wait wait…..all this man rallying and then your shilling to women under the same add campaign………….riiiiiiiiiiiiight. Like I said, masculinity for everyone!)

    In summation……..this ad is just another attempt at co-opting counter culture, in this case revolutionary semantics and imagery, to sell an outdated narrowly defined concept of masculinity to consumers. The only redeeming feature is it’s apparent implication that men should be chivalrous and should be social actors. Although I do love having doors opened for me, I can’t in all fairness endorse the idea of chivalry, because I’m saying I need those doors opened for me. And why can’t everyone be the saviors of this world that is “crumbing”. W/e Dockers. Men ain’t that stupid.

  10. I have to say that ‘Derek’ has a point.

    I’ve read Mcclungs for a while. Maybe not “reaching beyond the limits of memory, tradition, or recorded history,” but I have kept up for long enough to know that Mcclungs is often QUITE guilty for making a big, huge, throbbing, man hating mountain out of a semantic molehill. (P.S. thanks for the clarification Nora, but immemorial isn’t exactly a Rhodes-standard vocable?)

    I understand that blogging has a need for immediacy, and therefore an abundance of content, done quickly, and with less thought. I’ve written for a blog myself. When there’s nothing to write about, you find something to write about. However, this, my friends, is a bit of stretch, no?

    Truth be told, I like the magazine. I pick it up from time to time to flip it through, pick out the things I like. However, never once have I seen anything that doesn’t boast a very misguided, ill-researched, (oft times) poorly penned, female perspective, narcissist’s manifesto.

    I am a woman. I too have seen this ad. But I don’t look at it and fear for the autonomy of my gender, quaking in my lose fitting denim and closely cropped hair style. I look at it and think, ‘ well, those girls at Mcclungs are going to have a field day…’

    That said, I’m all for women-on-top, or even just at eye level is fine. But you guys must realize that you will jeopardize your reputation, one that your magazine is struggling so hard to attain, if you continue to publish stuff that is just so far from sensibility.

  11. First off, great discussion! I have read all your comments and I am thrilled to have evoked such a passionate response. It is an interesting campaign to analyse and debate as there are many valid points that can be made.

    I would like to jump in to add that I also have mixed feelings about this piece, which made it difficult to write. As the online editor could tell you, the post and I had a strenuous wrestling match before it was published. In the end, as McClung’s is a women’s magazine, I decided to look at the campaign through the eyes of a student striving to become a working woman -how would a woman facing a world of men be affected?

    I agree the campaign could be constructive in encouraging men, and I also agree that responsibility and respect are values that both men and women should possess. However, while Jennifer Sey talks about the progressive intentions, it’s hard to ignore the socially backwards connotation.

    Blogs are intended to engage readers and breed ideas –both which this one has succeeded in doing. It is through a feminist lens, yes. That’s the point. The parody in particular pokes fun at the time men did “wear the pants” and alludes to the underlying issue with the phrase.

    Regardless if you like the blog, do you think the campaign will be effective? Is there a way to promote heroic behaviour in men that doesn’t stir sexist offence?

  12. Here at McClung’s we’re really surprised and delighted by the amount of feedback we’ve gotten on this blog post but there are some clarifications we believe needs to be addressed.

    McClung’s is a feminist magazine; therefore our content is focused on looking at issues (whether it’s about politics or pop culture) on how it negatively/positively affects women. On our blog, like our magazine, we want to give women and men who are interested in women’s issues a voice. Many of our blog posts are about pop culture criticism, profiles about female artists, and what’s going on in the world of politics. Our bloggers have many different view points which range on different levels of the political spectrum; although we do editorialize posts, we try not to change too much to keep the writer’s opinion intact.

    In response to commenter “iwouldrathernot” our blog posts are actually well-thought out and researched. Similar to how we run the magazine, all contributors must first pitch an idea to our online editors who then go through an editing process (many of our bloggers have to write two drafts before their articles are posted online). We also cross-reference facts by linking to other articles that prove the writer’s points. At McClung’s we function as a professional magazine, meaning for every article we publish in the print version we run through a diligent fact-checking process where every fact is double checked and every source is contacted to ensure we do not print wrong information.

    One of the things we have found very interesting in the comments on this blog post is how McClung’s alienates men; which we strongly believe we don’t. What we do believe in, however, is challenging the social construct of patriarchy and not only focusing on how it negatively affects women, but also how it negatively affects men. This Dockers ad in particular, creates an image of what it means to be a man that many men would disagree with. It’s ridiculous to think that a clothing company can write a manifesto on how men should act. Alexicute rightly pointed out in her comment that Dockers is co-opting counter culture in an attempt to sell more khakis (by the way when were khakis ever cool? Remember those GAP mellow yellow ads anyone?).

    In summary, as a publication which is not afraid to admit it is feminist oriented, we’re not afraid to challenge reader’s beliefs and make them uncomfortable – all great publications do this. One of the greatest facets of opinionated journalism, , we believe, is to make people question their own beliefs. We’re not a passive publication. If one of our bloggers wants to critically assess an advertisement campaign, they have the right to; just like commenters have the right to express their opinions.

    This year, in the magazine we’ve tried to create a dialogue on the negative effects patriarchy has on men so if you get a chance, please read the Q&A with Carlos Andres Gomez, a slam poet/activist, we did which focuses on this topic. Click on this link: http://issuu.com/mcclungs/docs/winter2010 and flip to page 12

    Sincerely,

    Ronak Ghorbani and Mai Nguyen
    Co-Editors-in-Chief
    McClung’s Magazine
    mcclungs@ryerson.ca

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