Real Men Wear Dockers

I, for one, am thrilled to see Dockers re-branding itself with the marketing theme: Real men wear the pants. How nice to see regendering away from androgynous center — like this women’s blog is attempting to re-gender femininity – in a productive way.

For at least a decade now women have dealt with the Reluctant Man Movement. This dubious movement was how many men responded to what they found “emasculating” about women enjoying equal opportunity and vying for more of it.

Rather than embrace strong females in their midst, many men simply embraced the opportunity to act a little, well, helpless — like Homer Simpson. From Homer the reluctant man movement centered on The Man Show, an hour of bathroom humor apparently only for men. No girls allowed!

Enter rebranded masculinity. Forward-looking marketing attempts to re-package masculinity in an attractive way. This is not the old masculinity, built on chauvinism and seeped in female subordination. Instead, brands like Mitchum, Dockers, and Camel ask men to stand up and reclaim those old dashing archetypes that inspired generations of chivalrous pre-Homer men.

Says the New York Times of Dockers’s new campaign:

For instance, one ad proclaims: “It’s time to get your hands dirty. It’s time to answer the call of manhood. It’s time to wear the pants.” Another urges, “Khaki diem,” while a third declares, “Behold the second dawn of man” — clad in a stylishly wrinkled pair of Dockers.

The tone — half serious, half kidding, both sending up and saluting truisms about masculinity — is one that has been heard in several campaigns lately that are aimed at younger men.

For example, ads describe Mitchum deodorant as the brand “for men who like their antiperspirant the way they like their coffee — strong and under $5.” Ads for Camel snus, a smokeless tobacco product, assert, “Be heard not herded.” And ads for Curve for Men fragrance present a make-believe men’s magazine with cover lines like “Cars, girls and girls on cars” and “Girls, cars, sports, girls, sports, cars.”

The “Dockers brand of masculinity is less about ‘Don’t eat quiche’ and more about being chivalrous and mature,” said Desmond LaVelle, senior vice president and creative director at Draft FCB San Francisco.

New masculinity attempts the same regendering we see in the better offshoots of new feminism — it’s about being the best you can be, and embracing gender alongside that. No one is interested in having everyone be the same; we just want equal opportunity to make choices.

How refreshing that these brands refuse to settle for Homer Simpson helplessness or Man Show machismo. Do take back the pants, friends. If you’d like to open the door for your lady when our hands are freezing or take us to dinner once in awhile, we’d love to celebrate your newfound chivalry with you.

A real woman appreciates gallantry from a real man.

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