Masculinity is a fragile thing. Even something as seemingly innocuous as foamed milk is capable of destroying it. At least, that’s what many companies and advertisers believe, which is why they appeal to men by tearing down women and anything associated with women (including men who relate to women). I’ve come across a few good (and by “good” I mean “terrible”) examples of this tactic recently, which I will now share with all of you.
The theme of Dockers’ new campaign is Put a Pair of Khakis on, You Pussy!
Dockers reminds men that their manhood is UNDER ATTACK! – by coffee shops trying to sell them girlie drinks, by women opening doors, and by food options that do not clog their arteries. “The world needs heroes!” – to save the planet from the threat of androgyny. There is so much pathology here it’s hard to know where to begin.
Men should be in charge (because that’s how it used to be). Cities “crumbled” once the world decided it no longer needed men. Now waitaminute. Male-bodied persons still make up about half the world population, no? But when Dockers says “men,” they do not mean male-bodied persons. They mean the role traditionally performed by male-bodied persons. If male-bodied persons do not distinguish themselves as The Opposite of Women, then what are they? Nothing, according to Dockers (and social conservatives and other folks who are anxious about the erosion of traditional gender roles). Their Pleated Patriarchy Pants are the antidote.
But wait! Anxious masculinity is not confined to the U.S. The Discovery Channel is running some really creepysexist ads in the Netherlands:
According to Sociological Images, the copy reads:
Not for women’s eyes. Discovery Channel has television men want to watch. Exciting, smart, interesting, adventurous, and most of all real. Watch for yourself.
As a woman, I prefer dull, stupid, boring, fake television. Which is why I don’t watch the Discovery Channel and why they don’t want me as a viewer anyway! Wait, what? Does Discovery think women’s eyes won’t be able to see these ads just because they are aimed at men? I truly cannot understand the “KEEP OUT!” message they are sending to half their potential audience here. Nor can I understand why men would find a television station more enjoyable based partly on the “fact” that women aren’t watching.
I just don’t know what to make of this shit. It’s obviously an attempt to capitalize on anti-feminist backlash and male insecurity. There is a perception that women “wear the pants” now. But if that were true, I’d expect advertisers to cater to us more than the allegedly powerless, “emasculated” men.