Lesbians, get your head out of your girlfriend’s lap. There is a major crisis happening right now! A crisis in manhood! I know you’ve been wondering, “Wait a second, why is the world sitting idly by as cities crumble?” Well, Dockers has been wondering the EXACT SAME THING! And they have a solution.
So, ladies and allies… now that your [imaginary or real] girlfriend is in the other room, why don’t you take a second to look at your lap! Are you wearing pants? Hopefully not. But if you are, you should remove them, and hand them over to someone who can handle them. You know what I’m talking about. A DUDE! I could tell you why, but I think Dockers could tell you why better, so let’s take a gander of the Man-i-Festo.
Now, we love dudes, don’t get us wrong. But this whole ad campaign, which launched in December and is all over magazines and busstops and train stations, is rubbing us the wrong way — and, probably anticipating our disagreement, Dockers has launched a facebook page where people can “discuss” the art of manliness, amongst other things. So we decided to take it to the people for an Autostraddle Mini-Roundtable.
Here’s the thing about being angry feminists — I know sometimes it all seems so theoretical and abstract, like we’re the only ones who care and it’s pointless. But what media theory attempts to do is use a sociological and feminist lens to understand how things like ad campaigns subtly reinforce damaging cultural values and subconsciously manipulate everyone! YOU DON’T WANT TO BE A ROBOT DO YOU?! These messages shape our society. So we’re going to have to yell, very loudly at our society.
Style Editor Becky:
Jeebus fracking christ. Here’s what i think. REALLY PAPI, REALLY? But besides that, I think it’s interesting they delve so deeply into “the world not needing men”. People who read this most likely haven’t noticed anything wrong (rightly so) but are sure to be like: “Hey! It’s right! I DO sometimes eat a salad! WHAT HAS THE WORLD COME TO?” Then all of their insecurities will start to melt the closer those pants get to their electronic shopping cart. Did anyone else go to the facebook discussion website and cry? Me niether. But I think it’s actually sick that this campaign is using the state of the economy and EVERYONE’S dissatisfaction with how things are right now to get business–so that women can be like “YES WE NEED MEN BACK MAYBE THESE DOCKERS WILL MAKE MY MAN LOOK MORE LIKE JASON BEHR ” and men can be like “MAYBE IF I BUY THESE PANTS SHE’LL STOP FAKING HER ORGASMS”. Keep it up, dockers, I can’t wait to see their: WE PUT THE WIFE BEATER BACK IN WIFE-BEATERS!!! BUY NOW!!!!*
*Disclaimer- I obviously only mean stupid men. Not all men. God help us if this were all men.
I HAVE SO MANY FEELINGS ABOUT THIS AD CAMPAIGN. Not only because I took a Womens Studies class last semester and not only because I was raised by a self-proclaimed feminist but because I don’t understand what a “foamy non-fat latte” has to do with cities crumbling and children misbehaving. Did I miss something?
And yes, I get that the ad is probably supposed to be taken lightly, that it’s an exaggerated definition of the phrase “to wear the pants,”,and that Dockers is, after all, just trying to sell clothing… BUT COME ON. I don’t think my grandmother would mind if a latte drinking man decided to help her cross the street (not that she would allow anyone to help her seeing as she’s a beast at 85 and in better shape physically than I ever will be).
And since when did the world decide they didn’t need men? What gender holds the majority of the highest paying and most powerful jobs in the world? What gender is our president? All of our past presidents? I don’t remember any of them being stuck between boyhood and androgyny (except perhaps J. Edgar Hoover and his little cross-dressing habit, but that just makes him more interesting).
Some people believe that sexism is dead, that feminism is no longer relevant, and that we should stop complaining. But then something like this happens and you have to wonder…is it justified to get worked up over this or is this just a joke, a bout of exaggeration that we should play along with? I think they went too far, offending anyone who isn’t a “manly man”…but then again, I’m all for a genderless society. Obviously I’m part of the “problem”.
Executive Editor Laneia:
You are the manufacturer of beige cotton casual wear. If ever there was a stereotypical definition of ‘manly’, you would most certainly not be it.
FFF! (Flat Front Forevs!)
P.S. We don’t live in a genderless society, you stupid f*cks. Otherwise, this ad campaign of yours could never exist.
P.P.S. Men need to eat vegetables, too, because everyone — even someone with a giant manly penis — needs to poop on the reg. Didn’t your mother teach you that? Remember your mom? The one who probably gave up 38746 of her own hopes and dreams to raise your ungrateful ass?
P.P.P.S Who in the holy hell greenlights an ad campaign this alienating and insulting to women WHILE ALSO STILL TRYING TO SELL PANTS TO WOMEN OMFG MY BRAIN IS BLEEDING NEVERMIND.
Design Director Alex Vega:
I have just as many feelings as any other woman with a brain does when viewing this new Dockers ad … but my ultimate take on it might be a little bit, um… different. Let me explain.
It’s a smart ad. It’s supposed to be scandalous and piss us off. “Us” = women who don’t think ‘feminism’ is a bad word (and it’s not! But don’t tell that to weirdos/crazies discussing this on Facebook. I can’t go into that, my head will explode.)
I want to let it be known that I don’t condone the slander against discos and foamy non-fat lattes and specifically calling out our “genderless society” and “androgyny” as bad things. That hurts, you know?
But let me offer a little defense for Dockers statements about opening doors for women and old ladies crossing the street:
Just because a man opens a door for us doesn’t mean they think we can’t do it ourselves. It’s just the right thing to do. Like ‘feminism’, chivalry is not a bad word either (see also: honorable, respectful, considerate; courteous, polite, gracious, well-mannered.) And women can act chivalrous as well. I certainly have towards women, my elders, and even men.
If I could have it my way this “call to act” would apply to everyone without using the offensive insults and perpetuating those damn gender stereotypes. I would like to cherry-pick the statements in the ad — take some and leave some (like right-wing conservatives do with the Bible!). Some of it’s good, some can be left in 1955. But whatever Dockers, use that to your marketing advantage. I don’t care. You’re just a stupid advertisement. I design stuff like you for breakfast.
We should all step it up — men, women, everyone! So maybe we shouldn’t hate on it toooo hard. Just ’cause this ad calls for men to “act like men” doesn’t mean that Dockers is insulting ladies … it’s insulting gay men! Which is also terrible. So, on that note, I give up.
Associate Editor Sarah:
There are countless ways this ad campaign enrages me. — so many layers of awfulness! But what’s standing out to me right now is the their warped and ridiculous concept of masculinity.
So, I’m to understand that the feminist movement was all about stripping guys of their manhood? And their pants? They can certainly keep those, in my opinion.
I think we can all agree that women don’t want to strip away masculinity. I don’t think the creators of the ad have an accurate concept of masculinity, because it isn’t about what coffee you drink or what clothes you wear or whether you can protect a woman. These people aren’t talking about a return to manhood, they’re talking about a return to the Stone Age. This isn’t about masculinity, it’s about patriarchy and privilege and machismo. That’s why this frustrates me so much, because this ad doesn’t make a distinction between the two. You can be a man without oppressing other people. I thought that was obvious at this point, but this ad has proved me wrong.
I wanted to write an intelligent, articulate response to this ad campaign. Something with points and counter-points. Something that sounded more like an argument, less like an emotional rant. But it’s hard not to rant when every time I read this so called “man-ifesto,” I feel like I’m being slapped in the face with glorified hatred.
And so instead I’ll talk about how surprised I was when I read the facebook fan page and saw that a majority of people offering written support of the campaign were women. How willing they were to settle back into their outdated gender roles. Everyone kept saying how proud they were that a company finally had the balls to say that “real men” are being replaced by men “stranded on the road between boyhood and androgyny.” They all talked about the downfalls of other men.
But no one stood up and embraced their own masculinity. Everyone appluaded the manifesto but no one applauded the men. Because they’ve been led to believe that there is no idea of man left to applaud. So they bring down women. They bring down the lgbtq community. They bring down any man who does not adhere to their idea of a “real man.” And for what? A fucking pair of pants.
Because of my extensive background in advertising copywriting, my main reaction to this campaign is “ok dockers are never going to be cool guys let’s not joke around, who picked this angle?” They’d be better off with a tongue-in-cheek campaign like Mentos or Axe Body Spray. Gap did a great khakis campaign in the 90s.
Like what Adiocracy says:
The Dockers campaign, however, is so embarassingly over-processed and overly earnest in asserting its manifesto of old-fashioned assumptions. And, amazingly, it is done without even a shred of humor, which would certainly have helped it along. Sadly, it gives off a vibe of being written by a bunch of ‘Men of A Certain Age’, trying hard to reimagine a new youth.
Meanwhile aren’t they going to alienate their core market? It just seems like exaggerated machismo attempting to compensate for the pleats, which look bad on everyone!
But srsly — I actually don’t really care what this ad says about women or how it feels about women or even gay people, I care because of what it says about men. I think there is and has been a crisis in masculinity, encompassing many of the ideas in this ad. But I think the solution is exactly what Dockers says it isn’t — a more genderless society. I think that a lot of men right now do feel a conflict, and a distrust and unhappiness, because our gender norms limit male emotional expression to a truly oppressive degree and rather encourages a sort of frat-boy/Rambo mentality which is especially harmful for men who don’t fit that macho mold and feel ostractised/sexually undesirable/wussy. I don’t think men eat enough salads, or spend enough time having feelings or going to the disco.
Also if you do get your hands dirty, don’t wipe them on your khakis b/c your wife is gonna have to get that shit out for you, and she’s probs already busy ironing your Hero cape and making you some big juicy steak for dinner.
And anyone who needs help crossing the street should get it from anyone, regardless of gender. Okay? Help people across the street. Put your pants back on.
Music Editor Crystal:
When I’m not working for Autostraddle I’m a copywriter at a global ad agency, so I write ads like these and have had a lot of conversations with people about this particular one.
In my opinion the overall message in this Dockers ad is about maturity and accountability, not masculinity. I think it’s targeting teens and 20s emotionally by challenging them to step up into adulthood. But at the same time i think it’s actually trying to appeal to women, to take advantage of this notion of chivalry, that women want men to open doors for them and so forth. Which is probably a strategic move, statistics say that women still make the purchases for the household, which includes clothing for their husbands, bfs, sons.
So that’s what I think this ad was trying to do. But i dont think it was well executed. The shock copy, the stupid remarks about salads and lattes, detracts from the message and has clearly people offside. I think they could have still shocked people and had the same amount of cut through without being offensive. Where i will disagree with some of you is that to me, it’s clear that this is a tongue-in-cheek ad, it’s taking the piss out of its own message. Most of us just don’t find it funny, but a lot of people did otherwise it wouldn’t have run. I believe this ad is being ridiculous intentionally, asking us to challenge it and so we are, we’re still talking about the Dockers brand a month after this campaign hit the streets.
So on a professional level I can appreciate this ad because my eye has been trained to. Creatively and strategically I agree with Alex, it’s smart, people like me will spend their careers striving to write an ad that will have this much impact and free media space. Plus they would have researched tested this ad within an inch of it’s life, with women and with gay men. With the amount of gay people who work in advertising, I’d be surprised if one or two didn’t have a hand in creating or releasing it.
But on a personal level, if I was asked to write this ad campaign then I would have probably walked away. Even though I see what they’ve done and think they’ll make a lot of sales, I dont approve of some of the tactic. Regardless of whether it was written in humour, should have put on their own pants and taken accountability for how this ad could be damaging and regressive in the way it’s interpreted.
There’s a lot of WTF going on here. Weird parallels between emasculation and plastic forks aside, the real problem with this ad is how divisive it is. When you’re looking at a billboard telling you to “Wear the pants,” you got three choices –
Choice number one: you can lah lah love it.
Choice number two: you can ignore it.
Maybe you do think the world needs more Real Men or maybe it makes you feel a little uncomfortable but either way, you don’t feel strongly enough to say anything.
Or choice number three: you can talk about why you don’t like it.
Now comes the part where everyone starts to fight. People who think the ad is just superfantastic are going to call everyone who doesn’t like it “uptight.” They’re going to say, “Why do you hate men?” and they’re going to use “feminist” as a dirty word. Team Whatevs might quietly run over and join the men-wearing-pants-lovers because, really, who wants to be called an uptight bitch? They don’t want to be too radical, and anyway, things aren’t that bad for women.
And they aren’t. Lots has changed in the past hundred years, but there’s still so much that needs to happen and so much racism and homophobia remaining. Ads like this set women back because they keep us fighting amongst ourselves.
Men and women who are content tell everyone else “I’m fine. This doesn’t bother me. If makes you so upset, maybe there’s something wrong with you.” “Just relax” becomes the weapon of the comfortably powerful against those of us who experience inequality.
Refusing to support your own degradation doesn’t make you crazy or out of control or uptight. Girls need to know that they don’t have to overlook sexism to be popular.
This just has me thinking about this thing last year at my school where my friend wrote an article about a softball team called “co-ed = mo’ head” and all these people got nasty and said anyone who had a problem with their name was a prude and everyone needed to get a sense of humor. i was just surprised at how many girls were attacking other girls.
Sometimes my mum says I need to just laugh at things because they’re not hurting me. But the only reason they’re not hurting me is because I don’t feel like i have to have everyone’s approval anymore and I’m okay with not just going along with it. But when I was younger I did because it’s easy and because I had no role models for being any other way. It might seem cheesy, but this is something I feel pretty strongly about.
What do you think?