Bringing Macho Back

By , March 8, 2010 4:36 pm

Did you see the controversial Dodge commercial during the Super Bowl? Many people thought it was sexist. I thought it was whiny. Check it out.

The life of these guys are so miserable because they have to spend time with their mothers-in-law and take their wives’ calls? What assholes. These guys are whining about how whipped they feel because they have to watch “vampire shows?” Having to do those things doesn’t break down the American man. Feeling that those things do break it down is being whiny. It’s the opposite of the manly-man they’re trying to be.

I never understood the whole “life is over because I’m married” line of thinking. First, the reasons “life is so bad” always seemed lame, like in this commercial. And second, no one forced these guys to get married in the first place. So, conclusion: Stupid commercial.

A few weeks later, I noticed an ad for Dockers khakis that said “Wear the Pants.” I saw it and others for the same campaign in a few places in Midtown, but didn’t initially pay too much attention to them. Then I thought about “Wearing the pants” in light of the Dodge ad. It turns out the Dockers campaign is telling men to “wear the pants” to bring back manhood. Wearing khakis is going to bring macho back?


Here’s the full ad (via

This ad really pissed me off.

“Once upon a time,” the ad begins, “men wore the pants and wore them well.” Later, the ad continues, “Men took charge because that’s what they did.” No, men took charge because women weren’t allowed to. Men wore the pants, remember? “The world decided it no longer needed men,” claims the ad. (It did?) We were “stripped” of our khakis (read: manhood, balls) and “left stranded on the road between boyhood and androgyny.” How? ”Disco by disco, latte by non-fat latte.”And while the ad claims, “The World sits idly by as cities crumble,” it seems to blames cities for the emasculation of the American man.

Disco was popular in cities with blacks and gays. The whole “Disco Sucks” movement and the infamous Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park in 1979 are regarded as having racist and homophobic undertones: White, working class, rock music pushing back against black, Latino, gay urban disco. So, saying disco is a reason that men lost their mojo is ignorant at best. At worst, it’s offensive.

As a New Yorker, I find the anti-urban sentiment offensive. What offends me most about this ad, though, is that it yearns back to the time when women, gays and people of color were second class citizens. This ad sets itself up as harkening back to the 1950′s before the Women’s Lib movement. I really like “Mad Men,” but as a black man I wouldn’t want to be in it. As far as gender and racial relationships, it’s offensive to wish for that period in American history to return.

This manifesto isn’t on the Dockers site anymore. The two articles I’ve seen about the campaign link to the Dockers site, but the manifesto is no where to be found. As of just a few days ago, it’s still part of a huge poster in Midtown Manhattan. Whether or not it’s soon taken down, a bunch of people who are paid a lot of money thought this campaign was a good idea. They claim it was tested with women, “It’s not about men taking over again,” and it’s not about whether men are “gay, straight, whatever.” That doesn’t seem possible. It’s amazing that people who use cultural phrases or images don’t understand their meaning or why they’re offensive.

It’s worth noting that the two ads came out in a few months of each other. Dockers in December and Dodge in February. Both state that American masculinity is being threatened. Yes, there’s the “mancession,” more women graduating college than men, and boys not learning as well as girls in elementary schools. All are important issues for society as a whole, not just men. But Dockers and Dodge aren’t talking about those things. They’re talking about men being emasculated and dominated by women. The implication is that men are under siege, mostly by women. Guys, they say, need to man-up and once again wear the pants. (Dockers literally says this.)

The norms of what it means to be a guy in this country are changing. Masculinity is entering unchartered territory. More and more, men are equal partners with women at home and work. Sometimes, the man may be the one who stays home. All of that is ok.Real men know how to handle change. There’s no need to “wear the pants.” We don’t need to bring that type of macho back.

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