Speaking of Women's Rights...: New Dockers' Ad Campaign: Shocking? Offensive? You bet your pants.

Friday, December 18, 2009

New Dockers' Ad Campaign: Shocking? Offensive? You bet your pants.

My mother often tells me about her experiences as a young woman in college…how the women in her class were actually required to wear skirts to class. It’s hard for me to imagine, as I throw on whichever pair of denim happens to be the near the top of the pile and relatively clean, and head out the door to work. Perhaps it’s partly because of my mother’s stories that I found myself shouting at the above image on my computer screen yesterday morning.

Dockers has unveiled a new ad campaign for its line of khaki pants. The gist? We were all a whole lot better off when men “wore the pants”.

“In today’s world, men have lost a bit of footing, in part because women have come so far,” claims Dockers Marketing V.P. Jennifer Sey. What is with this idea that only one gender can be doing well at any given time?! I have an idea wherein we all prosper together…it’s called “equality.” (ok fine, so I didn’t come up with that one…) Why does it have to be one or the other?

Then there’s this nice little bit from the full-text version of the ad: “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.” Yes Dockers advertising team, there’s nothing less manly than a non-fat latte. Clearly. (oh, and way to piss off Starbucks.)

My real problem with the ad is this: While Dockers thinks they’re being all “tongue and cheek” and cutesy, they’re actually perpetuating gender stereotypes that we’ve spent years deconstructing – stereotypes that create dangerous situations for those who don’t seem to fall into the “norm.” And let’s get real here: We all know what “wearing the pants” means in our society. It has to do with power and money, things that have been in the hands of men for centuries. Women have come a long way since the days when a lady in pants was a faux pas. In 1979, the first year anyone kept track of the wage gap between genders (we can only imagine what the numbers were like before then), the ratio of women’s to men’s earnings was 62 percent. The most recent data for 2009 has us making 80% of our male counterpart’s salary. There’s still a lot of work to do on the issue of wage disparity, and a whole host of other gender equality issues. And blaming the decline of our society on our decreasing need for gender stereotyping isn’t going to give us a lick of help.

I can’t speak for potential khaki-consumers everywhere, but the America I live in is working toward equality and acceptance. Let’s hope I am proven correct and this campaign falls flat on its face.


  1. The Dockers ad is offensive, with its talk about "manly men." What we need is more gentlemen, and, yes, ladies, who treat each other with courtesy and consideration. This ad seems to be calling for more of the socially offensive males who call women politicians "bitch" and "c***" and said "Bros before 'hos" in 2008. Sadly, some young women joined these young men in hurling insults.

    Being old enough to have been required to wear skirts in school, though not in college (avant-garde college), I remember that boys usually acted like gentlemen in front of girls. They also asked us out on dates and courted us, rather than simply expecting to "hook up" as seems to be the norm today. So are women really better off today? We aren't getting the social benefits women used to get and we're still not being paid or promoted equally.

    Women were wearing pants back in the Thirties and Forties but they dressed up for occasions where men wore suits.
    That held true for decades. Today, almost everybody wears jeans or sweats everywhere and maybe that's a bad thing, even if it is comfortable. If women dress like men most of the time, perhaps men feel justified in treating us the way they treat other men. Maybe we're teaching them not to value us. Maybe we should be wearing dresses/skirts, or nice pantsuits a la Hillary, more often, reminding them that we are not men and don't want to be men, only want to have the same rights men do.

  2. How come you don't print more of the comments? I'm sure you have had more than one.

  3. Why doesn't Docker want to expand their marketing by making female docker pants? I would keep the text from the first two lines, then change the ad in the following manner

    Once upon a time men wore the pants, and wore them well. Women rarely had to open doors, but that was then and this is now.....................

    ...........(replace the next 10 lines of text with a picture of a woman wearing dockers pants opening the door herself)..................

    It's time to get your hands dirty, Its time to answer the call of womanhood, its time to wear the pants.

    .........(insert second picture of a man and a woman frolicking around together with their dockers on)


    If Dockers is going to harken back to the days of yesteryear, are they going to bring back manufacturing jobs to the United States as well?

  4. I love the ad, its awesome and um, YES, men have totally been demasculated by crazy women for years now. I am so OVER hearing women complaining about "sterotypes" and gender roles BLAH BLAH BLAH! SICK of it. All women do it complain. These ads are creative, funny, and although totally generalized: brilliiant & eloquent.

    Men are meant to be men, not examined, dominated, bitched at, or controlled (which would happen no matter how they acted, because today's American women is a total nagging you-know-what!) Men who aren't men suck. I am glad I am married to a man who knows who he is and acts as God made him, not what a bunch of crazy women who complain either way want him to be. Here is to dockers for going there!! Cheers!

  5. Love the ad! I think that Women's Lib was originally a man's idea. I've even heard men say that a woman needs to go to work to make a productive person out of her. AS IF homemaking and nurturing children is not being productive! Women's Lib brought with it so-called "Latch-Key Kids", the need for two cars per family, and more pollution as a result. We have such precious little time with our children before they are grown. They are school-age before we can blink. If a woman has to work, that's one thing. If she works to get away from the children, that is another. So, why not sacrifice and stay at home for a few years? We are so used to chasing material things, and are so spoiled. If we put a pencil to it, by the time we pay sitters, we probably aren't making that much anyway. I realize that in this economic climate, sometimes even two jobs aren't enough. Why don't we just let the men "man-up" and "wear the pants", and let them earn the main living? Less women working means more jobs for men. However, I do believe in equal pay for equal jobs. And, yes, I am a woman.