“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.”
So runs the copy of Dockers’ new “Man-ifesto” ad campaign that’s caused a bit of an uproar among the talking heads. Some praise it as refurbishing the image of “noble masculinity”, bringing it forward not as a threat to women’s rights but as a “valuable and enriching quality”. Others damn Levi Strauss for “waxing romantic for the days of submissive ladies and alpha males” … although there’s nothing in the ad about women being submissive (unless having a door opened for you makes you a servant, which it does in the looking-glass world of second-wave feminist theory).