The Sexist

Dockers “Wear the Pants” Campaign: Khakis the New “Call of Manhood”


A reader sent in this full-page New York Times ad from Dockers' new campaign, "Wear The Pants." Apparently, the clothing company is attempting to re-cast khakis as a "call of manhood," man's three-ply cotton twill answer to the androgynous evils of our "genderless society." That's right: Khakis.

Here's the full text of what Dockers is calling its "Man-ifesto"

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 diry. It's time to answer the call of manhood. It's time to WEAR THE PANTS.

Why Dockers' khakis will not single-handedly revive our culture's lost masculinity:

a. What have the majority of men been using to cover their legs in this genderless society? Not-pants?

b. Dockers also sells pants to women. They are the same as the pants for men, pretty much. Women are not being encouraged to "wear the pants" as a symbol of their empowerment, but rather as some sort of leg-covering mechanism designed to protect the lower portion of the human body from the elements:

Picture 4

c. "But today, there are questions our genderless society has no answers for." But there are sentences the world has editors for.

d. For all the absurd fashion and beauty trends thrown at women as gender-essentials, it's refreshing that men, too, are being encouraged to satisfy society's gender norms by shelling out $70 for a pair of pants. (Not man enough? Buy something!) In that sense, this is actually kind of a traditionally feminine marketing strategy.

e. If I could think of one piece of clothing that was perfectly paired with salad bars and non-fat lattes, it would be these:

Picture 3

  • Samantha

    Thank you! I was stunned by the bizarre nature of this ad. Particularly given point "e." If this was an attempt to recast the image of Khakis, it is a huge FAIL (and revolting to boot)!

  • Hill Rat

    WifeRat read that to me last night in an attempt to elicit some righteous, feminist, indignation from me but the whole thing was too goofy to get my bile flowing.

  • gop

    only members of a certain political party wear khakis.

  • emjaybee

    Is there a girlier set of man-pants than Dockers? Real men wear Dickies and work on the docks, amirite?


  • Em

    Hahaha. A classic case of a company not knowing its audience. It should be releasing an ad campaign extolling the virtues of ultimate yuppy-ism. Thought maybe it will work--most ultimate yuppies are in pretty big denial about it.

  • Napalmnacey

    "For the first time since bad guys, we need heroes."

    For the umpteenth time since this morning, we need an ad exec that knows the first thing about grammar. Or an editor. Either-or.

  • former staffer

    I hate khakis. So I wear khaki colored hemp pants. Not only do I benefit the environment, I undermine the man I work for (the feds) at the same time.

  • Kris

    along with the super-fun misogyny sewn into every pair of Dockers, you get undertones of homophobia with every purchase!

  • just sayin

    No pleats!

  • and on it goes

    Doesn't anyone get this?!!!THE AD IS ABSOLUTELY RIGHT!!!
    YEAH for Dockers for having the guts to speak out!

    There has not(and never will be)one thing good, holy or healthy that came out of the ridiculous "women's movement" from the 60's! I myself am a female baby boomer who has witness first hand the destruction caused by this relatively small group of misguided women who are "male wanabees".
    God help us all.

  • sedcdude

    @ and on it goes,
    AMEN 2 that!

  • sedcdude

    BTW.......REAL men where bdu's!

  • karlub

    First off, Dockers retail for somewhere between $25 - $50, so they are affordable. Which fits right in with this campaign.

    Second, for a campaign this size-- and it promises to be large-- I think you can look forward to a diversification of the message such that accusations of misogyny are proven to be hysterical overreactions.

    Third, traditionally manly virtues have been eroded. If you do not believe this, convincing you will be impossible. But the truth of this will be manifest when those happy with that erosion get their panties in a wad over this campaign while the campaign succeeds.

    Finally, I am generally the first to get on the grammar enforcement bandwagon. In this case, though, it seems pretty obvious the copy is going for a conversational tone. It reads like dialogue. This is clearly intentional. You may think it is stupid, but it is unfair, I think, to bring out the lexical guns of Navarone.

  • The Chortler

    I'm only buying Dockers from now on! Whaa hoo! Good on yeh!

  • John

    Men use to be men, not anymore, we have women trying to run the show, and men who act like women letting them. I will only buy Dockers, at least ehy tell it how it is.

  • Pingback: Dockers Ad Campaign a Good Fit, With Some Alterations | MND: Your Daily Dose of Counter-Theory

  • Toysoldier

    I hate to state the obvious, however, the ad campaign was not intended for feminists. They are not the target audience, so how they feel about it is ultimately irrelevant. Males, mostly between the ages of 25 to 40 (Gen X and Gen Y), are the intended audience and this is a fairly effective ad campaign for them. It states the things many of those men think and then associates those views with Dockers' product in a decently clever way.

    As for the campaign being sexist, it is no more sexist than Dove's ad campaign.

  • Bob

    I introduced this ad to some of my MRA friends and stated that I thought the ad was quirky and I didn't really appreciate the narrowness of it's definition of manhood. Actually I think the old "man as provider and protector" role is quite demeaning. And yes, it was a woman who wrote the ad
    What I did like, however, was that it didn't go down the same road as the dorky and demeaning ads that ambicrombee and fitch, bud light, and those stupid Axe ads uses to sell products. I think of the current Bud light ad with the woman mutilating a man with a nail gun and I am reminded of the ruckus that the Swedish bikini commercial kicked up and am amazed at the double standard.

  • Dad

    It worked! The ad campaign is great in addition to being right. I am tired of the politically correct comments of today. Lets stand for what is right and buy Dockers.

  • Tony

    I'm going to go right out and buy a pair of Dockers!

  • Jack Yan

    Dockers don’t sound particularly manly to me. If it were for the regular 501 line, maybe I could see some point. But, as you rightly point out, the majority of Dockers’ customers are women. Did the wrong brief get to the wrong department at Levi’s?

  • Pingback: Test Levi Strauss « A Voice for Men

  • BreadWinner

    I find the timing a put off - asking men to 'wear the pants' and 'answer the call of manhood' when many American men are currently without jobs... but hey, let's not inspire anyone, let's break 'em down - prey on their recently developed feelings of inadequacy, right?

  • Ken

    Actually I own a pair or two of Dockers and the flat front ones arent bad at all. They wear well and are pretty good at preventing stains. And Im a (fairly) young thirtysomething. I dont let any advertising campaign affect what I buy. I purchase what I want to - not what Madison Avenue says.

  • Richard

    "Thank you! I was stunned by the bizarre nature of this ad. "

    I second the bizarre nature of the ad. I actually sort of get a "Wear the Pants" campaign, but the subscript is just plain bizarre. I don't see why they couldn't have had their affirmation of masculinity (which can sell things) without having to directly state how things have gone so badly etc cause of gender neutrality.

    My guess is that they figured (and are on some level right) that the actual content of the words making up the man does not matter that much so did not pay much attention to what it said.

  • CatoTheCensor

    It's like Ross Douthat met Chuck Norris, they had a brief but bitter affair, and this rant was the inevitable love child.

  • Steve Silver

    An interesting blog entry by Jennifer Sey, the "newly anointed marketing lead" for Dockers and self-identified "mother, wife, professional woman, writer, feminist, former N.O.W. intern and long time LGBT friend", explaining the rationale behind the current "Wear the Pants" campaign.

    I'd be interested in thoughts and reaction to this.

  • Pete

    After reading this, I was motivated to be a better dad, husband and employer. Men who have been emasculated, and you know who you are, need grow a pair, cowboy up and "wear the pants" in your family and community! I am going out and buying a couple pairs of Dockers today!

  • Erin

    To those of you who agree with the "message," that's all fine and good. But I have to point out that you look like fools for adding that you're now going to run out and buy dockers. I would advise you to take a moment to remind yourself that tan colored pants really have nothing to do with traditional values of masculinity. The company has just arbitrarily aligned itself with such concepts to manipulate you into buying their product. If you identify with such values, go out and live it. There are better ways of doing so than shopping. Buying dockers will ultimately accomplish nothing towards seeing the change in the world an empty ad campaign promises you. Please, employ some critical thinking skills and don't be suckered in by such blatant manipulative techniques.

  • Caitie

    I LOVED this ad! I love men; I don't want them to be the same as women. :) I like that this called out their distinct gifts!

  • Pingback: Dockers Ad Campaign a Good Fit, With Some Alterations « A Voice for Men