Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Goodbye Dilbert, hello Mr. Darcy?

So, okay. Apparently, Dockers has launched a new global ad campaign in an attempt to revive the popularity of khakis. Basically a make-over. Remarketing as it were. This was thusly unveiled during the Superbowl with a commercial entitled “Men Without Pants.”

Mary Kassian of Women Gone Wise notes, “The commercial anticipated that men would identify with the cultural de-masculinization of males depicted by the pant-less parade. The take-away was that they would be challenged to once again “Wear the Pants,” both literally and figuratively.”

The Man-ifesto contained within the ads reads:

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 dirty. It’s time to answer the call of manhood. IT’S TIME TO WEAR THE PANTS!”

The ads make quite the bold statement about modern masculinity, or lack thereof. So… is it right or is it wrong?

Surely it can’t be argued that popular culture attempts to cultivate a generation of women who feel superior to men while at the same time depicting men as not much more than a third child. Think TV shows like King of Queens, According to Jim, and countless others… (The Simpsons, anyone?) Heck, I guess it even started back with Honeymooners. We’re being trained to find this sort of thing funny, acceptable, and probably even inevitable in men.

Ho ho ho! Once you’re married for a few years Mr. Right will loose all interest in taking care of himself, will slack off from his responsibilities, he’ll tell cute little lies in order to sneak off and see the game, but when the old ball’n chain finds out hilarity ensues. Ho ha. Of course she will forgive him because he will make some pathetically lame attempt to “make it up to her” and she knows deep down he can’t help getting into all the cute lil’ mischief he gets into. The woman is generally always the level-headed responsible one in these shows. Frankly, just kill me if my husbands highest ambition ever becomes winning a hot-dog eating contest or finally getting a flatscreen for the wall of his man-cave.

As bold as it is, I for one agree that masculinity is devalued these days and we are paying the consequences for it (cities crumble, children misbehave and those little old ladies remain on one side of the street). Men have a “God-given bent to initiate and be heroes.” If we can’t respect and encourage men to “answer the call of manhood” then we are no better than men who belittle our abilities as females. No one is saying women can’t everything men can do (sometimes the case, sometimes not and vice versa), but should they? The ad itself states “today, there are questions our genderless society has no answers for”.

According to the Bible, roles aren’t based on who’s more capable or competent, or whose turn it is, or who wants to have a go at it. Isaiah 29:16 says, “You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, “You did not make me”? Can the pot say to the potter, “You know nothing”?” When we start questioning the way God designed things, including gender, it throws everything askew.

Mary Kassian goes on to say, “Manhood and womanhood were created to display the story of the Gospel and the glory of God. So when we don’t get gender right, the answer to humanity’s problem is obscured… I agree that it ’s time for men to wear the pants. But I’m not talking about the khakis that Dockers are peddling, or some re-invented macho-male cultural stereotype. It’s time for men to wear the pants of godly manhood, and women to wear the skirt of godly womanhood, so that the gospel of Jesus Christ will be proclaimed . . . And so that this genderless generation, which is so broken and desperately seeking for answers, will find THE answer to the deepest question of the human heart.”

Naturally we can’t know Dockers’ ultimate agenda and the ads aren’t all that PC. Apparently Dockers is owned by Levi, which in the past withdrew funding from the Boy Scouts because Boy Scouts wouldn’t allow homosexuals to be Scout leaders. I’m not saying they’ve changed or that Levis/Dockers is some upstanding example of morality among a sea of two-faced corporations, but I do think the general message is tuning in to something that needed to be said, and someone finally had the uh, balls, to say it.

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