By Mary DeTurris Poust
Dockers, known the world over for its casual-Friday khakis, has found itself at the center of controversy and outrage thanks to its new "Man-ifesto" ad campaign that challenges men to "Wear the Pants." Here's what the full ad says:
"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 grownups. 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 dirty. It’s time to answer the call of manhood. It’s time to wear the pants."
It may be nothing more than a smart marketing plan to grab some headlines and annoy some bloggers and columnists, or it may be something more -- and that possibility is what's stirring people up. Over at Fathers for Good, a website sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, editor Brian Caulfied writes:
"I won't over-analyze -- it is, after all, just an ad. But Madison Avenue has had a huge influence on our cultural images and thinking over the generations, and this ad may influence the cultural language in a positive way. At the very least, it has already begun a healthy dialogue about the role of men and the struggles and challenges they face in a highly sensitive, sometimes screedish, 'post-feminist' society."
Over at Love & Fidelity Network, this was the take:
"In a post-feminist revolution world, it may seem counter-cultural to hear (or see) a message such as this one plastered conspicuously on every billboard. We find it surprisingly refreshing. Some feminists bemoan the 'call of manhood' and wonder whether patriarchal norms are once again rearing their ugly heads, but we find no reason for concern. On the contrary, given its popularity already, Docker’s message could potentially launch a cultural trend where noble masculinity is once again esteemed, and viewed not as a threat, but as a valuable and enriching quality."
Not everyone is full of such high praise. Check out this commentary from the Boston Herald's "The Edge":
What's your take on who wears the pants? Does the message make the man? Or is it just another typical shock-value marketing scheme from Madison Avenue? Tell us in the comment section.
"While Levi Strauss is waxing romantic about the days of submissive ladies and alpha males, they step it up a notch and remind us that not only have shrewish women ruined everything, metrosexuals (read: gays) are to blame, too. Plummeting sales of pleated pants everywhere? Damn you, 'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.'
"...We do need grownups - to smack some sense into the marketing department at Dockers, where they clearly have been watching too much 'Mad Men' and not enough 'Modern Family.' Sure, I like to look at Don Draper, but I don’t want to iron his slim -fits for him. Especially if they are of the antagonistic, take-back-mens-power-one-Never-Iron-Khaki-at- a- time variety."