WOW…seriously??? I mean…seriously??? Dockers, what are you thinking? Take a look at this new ad campaign that Dockers is putting out there and tell me what you think:
So is it that Dockers is of the opinion that their pants will somehow make men more “manly”. I hate that this campaign is calling for a return to the days when a woman’s place was in the home cooking dinner and minding the kids and that men are the ones doing “real work.” And that somehow our world has gone off its tracks and landed in a feminized (and therefore chaotic and broken) world that could be fixed with a healthy dose of testosterone. If only we could go back to a time when men were in charge then the world would be one big Shangri-la (but not in a frilly, fluffy, emotional way – that wouldn’t be manly). I get that the ad is trying to be funny. However, funny sexism is still sexism. It is just more palatable and easier to dismiss as harmless.
I happen to have a different opinion of what is wrong with the world today. Try this on for size. I feel that society has lost its way, at least in part, not because of feminization but because far too many men can’t (or won’t) let go of the past. Far too many men have remained in a state of suspended animation – frozen in that mindset that men work so they don’t have to have a hand in child rearing and house cleaning. Well fellas, women work too (they always did – we just didn’t call it that). In most families today both parents have full time jobs outside the home. Gone are the days of the bread winner and care taker roles. Nowadays, both parents need to share the responsibility of raising the children and maintaining the house. Unfortunately, many men have been reluctant to engage and the results have been catastrophic. We know that something has to change, but many men are afraid of that change. We have a fear of the unknown. Unfortunately while we are “sitting idly by” cities do crumble and children do misbehave. In my opinion, you can add to that list that family relationships crumble. Children are forced to raise themselves (or let their television or X-Box do it). Divorce rates skyrocket and children’s grades plummet. How about things like childhood obesity? Dating violence? Self mutilation? Is it possible that they are also symptoms of this larger problem? I think so.
Please don’t mistake this for male bashing or that I am blaming all men for the world’s problems. I certainly am not. After all, I am a man and I know plenty of other men that are wonderful partners and fathers. I also know a large number of men that aren’t meeting their potential as partners and fathers because they feel like they cannot be masculine and be a loving and engaged partner and father at the same time. I can certainly understand that. The messages men receive from all around us is that men are supposed to be anything but engaged and loving. Most men, I feel, are at a crossroads. We feel like it isn’t safe to be authentic, yet we can see that problems in our families, in our schools and in our communities has reached critical mass.
It is time for men to engage, in meaningful ways, in our families and in our communities. It is not enough to bring home a paycheck and make sure the yard looks nice. Those things are important, but they will not ensure that the world our children and grandchildren will live in will be a place of equal opportunity for everyone where people’s differences are celebrated rather than shunned. I truly believe that the majority of men in this world want to be really great guys (and often are). What I think we need is a way to bring these men together so that we can meet one another (either in person or online) and see that we are not alone and that we can be considered masculine by our peers. That would be the permission we need to be more visible as engaged partners and fathers. That is why I started Responsible Men in the first place. Now all I need is guys who are willing to take that small step forward to say “I am one of the Responsible Men.” Are you willing to be that guy?
If the world were set up so that men could feel safe about being authentic I imagine it would be a very different place. I imagine in that world the advertisements might look something like this:
Maybe a good place to start is to recognize that regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, religion or any other ways we classify people, we all put our pants on one leg at a time.
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