Wear The Pants

Transcript: Once upon a time, men wore the pants, and wore them well. Women rarely had to open doors and little old ladies never crossed the street alone. Men took charge because that’s what they did. But somewhere along the way, the world decided it no longer needed men. 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. 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. For the first time since bad guys, we need heroes. We need grown-ups. We need men to put down the plastic fork, step away from the salad bar and untie the world from the tracks of complacency. It’s time to get your hands diry. It’s time to answer the call of manhood. It’s time to WEAR THE PANTS.

Jennifer Sey, Dockers' vice president of global marketing, was interviewed in Brandweek about this campaign and the motivation behind it. She stated, "the most surprising fact of all [that the brand's research found] was that men’s testosterone levels have been dropping by a percentage point a year for the last 20 years. All these factors add to up say, “Wow, men are struggling in today’s world.” [And we, as khaki manufacturers] have not really been talking to them. But men have told us that they are expected to be more sensitive, to do more at home. They are confused about what it means to be a man today. This led us to the pants idea and essentially, the goal is to provide empathy and encouragement, but also a sense of humor and to help define the new modern idea of man, which includes sensitivity, chivalry, ambition, decisiveness, as well as empathy, so we can inspire today’s men to be men.

Wow. Where to start?

1) Men "struggling" (struggling = not adhering to hyper-masculinity standards) in today's society are probably thinking to themselves, "I really wish somebody would bombard me with idiotic masculinity stereotypes through an insulting advertisement. And you know what...khaki manufacturers are definitely the ones who should be doing that. They have failed me by their lack of sexist ads." Like khakis themselves are known for being super masculine?

2) How DARE men be asked to take a more active role in their relationships and homes. And heaven forbid they ever show that they have feelings. HOW DARE THOSE FEMINAZIS LET MEN THINK IT'S OKAY TO NOT BE A CONTROLLING ROBOT!

3) I'm thinking the non-fat latte and plastic fork/salad bar references were the humor they're referring to. HA HA HA sofunnycan'tstoplaughing!

Although there are some men who respect this campaign, such as "MJM" over at the blog Parental Alienation. He shared some illuminating words:

Most marketing companies target females and in so doing have no difficulty in showing men as bumbling idiots living with the competent, super wife (proxy mommy) who does most of the buying and household management. The Marxist victimfemis have gotten their knickers in a bonnet over it and will be screeching sexism to the UN High Commission on Progressive Speaking and Political Correctness. (In case you are an ill informed femi that was sarcasm - the organization is fictional but metaphorical.)... Its almost as though everywhere men are ensconced they drink their Lattes at the behest of some invisible curtain of Feminist Political Correctness hanging over them that has taken their family jewels and done something to them that is not in keeping with good breeding. I'll buy some more Dockers, I've been a fan for a very long time, and be glad of the chutzpa to target men as the buyers not the "super woman" we see portrayed in commercials and TV sitcoms.

An interesting perspective, to say the least. But as FBomb reader Maren Hanna noticed:

I understand the Ad is meant to be taken lightheartedly, but it does raise some interesting questions. The Ad is obviously discriminatory towards gay men, and those who don't fit into the norm of masculinity, as well as women. Patriarchy is damaging for men too, because it forces them into tiny boxes. The point is, NOBODY benefits from a gender binary, and this Ad campaign is just an example of how far we must go.

Not only does this ad make some very strange parallels, (what exactly does a plastic fork have to do with being a man?) it discusses progress away from a patriarchal, privileged society as a negative thing. Also, androgyny causes children to misbehave, and cities to crumble?

To contact Levi Strauss & Co. about this lovely ad, click here.

- Julie Z and Maren Hanna

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Julie Zeilinger
Founding Editor of The WMC FBomb
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