February 8, 2010

Men need pants.

That's the message I got from the Super Bowl.
 Super Bowl advertisements were a little bit bolder, a lot weirder and definitely featured more pantsless men than previous years. Pantsless men in the workplace. Pantsless men striding purposefully down fields of gold. Pantsless men facing sumo wrestlers.

Viewers can draw what they want from that trend, but we're declaring it a metaphor for the economy. The jobless rate is so high, even trousers aren't a guarantee in life anymore.
No. No. I'm saying it's about masculinity. Like most ads directed at men. You know how I've been railing for years about men in shorts? Here's my original men in shorts post. Key point: "shorts are children's clothes." Here's the second. Key point: "If you are in shorts, you are not a man." Note: I made some exceptions. I had an anecdote:
I recently attended a talk led by a male lawprof who wore shorts (with a T-shirt and sandals). He stood up too, putting his boy-clothes on full display.
Tom Wolfe said it better:
[The professor] had on a short-sleeved shirt that showed too much of his skinny, hairy arms, and denim shorts that showed too much of this gnarly, hairy legs. He looked for all the world like a seven-year-old who at the touch of a wand had become old, tall, bald on top, and hairy everywhere else, an ossified seven-year-old, a pair of eyeglasses with lenses thick as ice pushed up to the summit of his forehead -- unaccountably addressing thirty college students....
So I appreciated the ad that ended: "Calling all men: It's time to wear the pants."



I was all: Yes! Men need pants! I've been saying it for years. (And here's that other pantsless ad... and it's not even an ad for pants.)

64 comments:

Andrea said...

Oh wow. I thought I was the only person left in Christendom who thought wearing shorts was for little boys. And I come from Florida, where the official garb for men is shorts. I guess I just saw one hairy knee too many and snapped...

While we're at it, how about a campaign against those goddamn t-shirts? T-shirts are underwear. Underwear was meant to be worn under your regular clothes, hence the name. Unless you are out in the far fields pounding fence posts into the unforgiving ground with your brute strength, you should not be wearing t-shirts in public.

HKatz said...

"... a pair of eyeglasses with lenses thick as ice pushed up to the summit of his forehead"

I like how this isn't a mixed metaphor. This - it's consistent and funny.

Tom Wolfe definitely doesn't wear shorts. But to me he's always seemed like a mix of adult male and impish clever elf (and I enjoy his sprightly observations). The dandyish suits he wears enhances his child-like (or elf-like) air of irreverence.

edutcher said...

Ann said...

"If you are in shorts, you are not a man."

Tell that to a couple of generations of British soldiers, particularly, the Desert Rats.

Shorts on vacation are fine. In the hot summer, they're sensible. Andrea's point, however, is well taken. The slovenliness in male dress started in the slobby 60s with the hippies. A grungy, tie-dyed T-shirt was supposed to be acceptable. If you've got decent musculature, a T-shirt and shorts can look good, in the proper setting. If you have a beer gut and chicken legs or legs that look like they belong on the Wolfman, then you look like Hell. Similar statements can be made about womyn.

"Calling all men: It's time to wear the pants."

Bet you didn't say that the first time you saw "300". Or Errol Flynn in "Robin Hood".

Andrea said...

Don't get me started on women wearing t-shirts. I was one of the offenders, and then one day I had a revelation, and got rid of all my t-shirts except for one I still wear under my regular shirts when it's cold. One thing I like about winter up here -- you don't see people wearing nothing up top but a ragged t-shirt with a faded logo on the front, and sweat stains under the arms. Gross.

Andrea said...

PS: Errol Flynn wasn't wearing shorts in Robin Hood -- his legs were decently covered by material. And the men in 300 looked ludicrous by all accounts. (I've never seen the movie but I've seen pictures, and I'm pretty sure that real Spartans wore a bit more than a few leather straps, even in battle. Also to be fair, they hadn't exactly invented pants back then -- men wore leggings, which were just material wrapped around their legs, or kilts.)

MnMark said...

If men should wear pants rather than shorts - which are more comfortable - because pants convey masculinity and adulthood, then shouldn't women wear dresses and skirts? After all, if the standard should be what reinforces the characteristic image of one's gender, rather than comfort, the most feminine clothing for women are dresses and skirts.

As a traditionalist conservative, I'm all for this, actually. Men should wear pants, not shorts. Women should wear dresses and skirts, not pants.

Fred4Pres said...

Men wear trousers. Ladies wear pants.


Now men do need ladies, so if the ladies are wearing pants fair enough.

Ann Althouse said...

I actually have a shorts exception for men who have great manly legs.

As for T-shirts, let's see if you look like a man or a boy in that shirt. A man in jeans and a well-fitted black T-shirt? I say yes, on the right man.

save_the_rustbelt said...

Speaking of shorts, this is the 100th birthday of the Boy Scouts of America, founded and continued by REAL MEN who wear shorts and knee socks.

Happy Birthday!

rhhardin said...

These manly babies are on sale. I wear them all the time.

Even the pockets are tough.

Moose said...

Make you a deal, professor: I'll wear long pants all the time if you wear pantyhose all the time.

Deal?

mason88 said...

As a beach denizen and elderly male surfer I would like to comment on your aversion to males in shorts. We live in our shorts and to do otherwise anywhere but an upscale restaurant or the work place would be a serious fashion faux pas certain to be ridiculed by any attendant females. One of our most cherished sartorial get ups is the warm jacket paired with shorts for those cold winter days when the temps drop into the 50's...

Calypso Facto said...

"We think men need advertisers help to figure out how to be men." That's the very sad message I got from the Super Bowl ads. Whether pants, or a Dodge Charger, or mobile TV on your PDA, or soap with lotion, it was all about how Our Product will make you more manly. What a crock!

rhhardin said...

Here's a photo of me in those very shorts, from Google maps, scything the lawn.

It's probably from June 2009.

I'm the dot working my way camera-wards in a 10' wide swath of lawn, with the rounded end that a scythe produces, off the rear right corner of the house.

Note the slight jog leftward around the telephone pole.

It looks like just before noon.

The dog is out there somewhere, might be the lawn dot to the left of me.

I cut the front, left and right edges first, then behind the house.

chuck said...

What about kilts? There was a guy at work who wore a kilt now and then.

MadisonMan said...

Some men wear boxers, but not in that ad.

bagoh20 said...

""shorts are children's clothes."

And makeup is for clowns.

Jenniferwhatnot said...

The Super Bowl ads made me sad because they're picking on men and it's all true. The "man without a spine" ad was the funniest and also hurt the most. Men: Be men! Quit holding her purse, put on some pants, and go be a man, even if you have to drive a car advertised by a serial killer to feel manly enough!

traditionalguy said...

The Professor's point is well taken. The shorts are boys clothes. However, there is a place where a grown up man tries to affect the look of a Leisure class Prince complete with deck shoes and no socks. That is a statement that the young man is not a worker but an heir to a family fortune out playing the day away. The Kennedy's got that look just right. In today's youth culture there is also a look that admits that the men have not assumed grown up responsibilities. The adult male needs a good income to assume an adult responsabilities, and that is a real dilemma today.

William said...

If God didn't want men to wear shorts, he would not have created hot, humid days. For a good part of my adult life I wondered what useful purpose a tie and a buttoned collar served. People inflict such pain upon themselves in order to look respectable and responsible.....Now respectability has gone subcutaneous. At the gymn I sometimes see men--and they're not even gay--discussing how to properly develop some muscle I never heard of. There's a reason to be fit but none to be sculpted. They take it way too seriously.....No one will ever mistake me for a professional rugby player, but I am pleased to wear shorts on a hot day. I no longer have to play with the kids who play at being grown ups.

Beth said...

Is the message "wear pants and be a man, not a boy" or "wear the pants, and don't be emasculated by your women"?

Althouse clearly sends the first message with her anti-shorts stance, but I think she's assuming too much in thinking that's the message of these pantless men ads.

mason88 said...

Maybe shorts are "boy clothes" for legions of the landlocked. But here at the beach they are de riguer. Wear your long pants if you must, but in salt life world prepare for derision and being mocked by the most casual of passerbys.

bagoh20 said...

"Is the message "wear pants and be a man, not a boy" or "wear the pants, and don't be emasculated by your women"?"

Ann's point is: Wear pants and be a man like us women tell you to.

Thanks for that ladies, now put on those bikinis.

traditionalguy said...

Anne Althouse @ 7:15...There must be the men in kilts exception too. All true Scotsmen have massive thighs covered with curly red hair. But in the interest of modesty, we also wear knee-hi hose.

edutcher said...

Andrea said...

PS: Errol Flynn wasn't wearing shorts in Robin Hood -- his legs were decently covered by material.

I was referring to Ann's statement that it was time for men to wear the pants. And, yes, I realize they wore tights in "Robin Hood", but you could see what he had. As for "300", I know the real Spartans wore a breastplate, greaves, and some kilt-like thing at the waist, but, again, you had men wearing briefs, but they were in great shape. I couldn't resist the temptation to tweak Ann a little and she was good enough to allow that men with good legs look good in shorts and should be allowed to wear them (so I guess I have her permission).

The more I think about Ann's "time to wear the pants" line, I wonder if she's trying to steer the conversation in the direction that men should assert themselves a lot more in these troubled times. A lot more John Wayne and a lot less Alan Alda.

bagoh20 said...

Dress to impress...if you need to.

Big Mike said...

Oh, aye, now its kilts ye be wantin' to talk aboot, is it?

Well try this song.

[Warning: Lyrics not totally safe for work]

former law student said...

I'll wear long pants all the time if you wear pantyhose

Men have been wearing trousers for centuries, while pantyhose date back only to the 1960s.

In fact, the professor grew up when young women wore stockings and a garter belt.

Alex said...

At the gymn I sometimes see men--and they're not even gay--discussing how to properly develop some muscle I never heard of. There's a reason to be fit but none to be sculpted.

Says the guy who is probably sporting a beer gut. Yes, they are laughing at you, porky.

Alex said...

The amount of skin shown is of course predicated on being in fantastically buff shape, like Titus. Him and his rare clumbers indeed.

former law student said...

Here's a video depicting trousers-wearing men and skirt-clad women. No hats on the men, though:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGv62hmdqiM

Or the Homer Simpson version:

You can dance
You can dance
Everybody look at their pants.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TwUq8JyaE8Y

Ann Althouse said...

@Beth I want men to be men in the sense of: not children. I don't think women or other men want men to be boys.

ironrailsironweights said...

hairy everywhere else

If only women could be hairy in one particular spot (sigh).

Peter

rhhardin said...

Back in the 60s, when I started wearing Bermudas to work, there was one guy who incessantly remarked that it made me look like a little boy.

I assume he had a high estrogen level.

Joe Tetreault said...

That juxtaposition of the career builder casual Friday ad in which no one wore pants or shirts for that matter followed by the Dockers ad reaffirmed a fundamental proposition of marketing: don't mock your audience. I might wear Dockers, but I'm less likely to because they feel the need to advise me it's time for you menfolk to wear the pants. Well no excrement. I've been wearing them since I began dressing myself three decades ago. I don't need a reminder. Nor do I need to be advised to put them on one leg at a time. I prefer to backflip into them, myself.

Yrgal said...

Ann,I love you but you need to get to the warmlands,UPS has uniform shorts,so does my(and many other)companies here in the warmlands.Maybe it's time for You to grow up,
Bob

Beth said...

Althouse - I think we're talking about two different things. I think this ad is just echoing the old "who wears the pants in the family" stereotype. It's not about being a man, i.e., an adult, but the man, i.e., in charge of one's home.

Rick Caird said...

Now, now, it is not at all fair for a woman from Madison to tell men from Florida, particularly men who live on boats, what is proper attire. I guarantee you I won't wear my shorts in the snow. It did get down to the mid 30's in January and no one wore shorts.

mishu said...

The good professor still can't get over playing her favorite childhood pastime, dress up.

puetzz said...

Men should wear tunics.

kmg said...

Everyone needs to read this article, which predicted that Misandry would be the dominant issue of this decade.

It is only Feb 8th, and is already seeming prophetic.

Greg said...

It's all about the comfort for me. In summer, I'll wear shorts outside. I'll wear shorts inside, allowing me to set the thermostat higher and still be comfortable. (Look at me being green!) I won't wear shorts to work or to anything important, however.

Lupus Solus said...

I guess I fall in the exception category. I always wear shorts and thankfully I have the legs for them.

I've been complimented many times ...

My complaint is both men and women who wear shirts that expose there midsection when they don't have the body for it.

Hint ... If you have love handles, wear a long shirt!

JC said...

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

Billy Oblivion said...

If you spend most of your life surfing or hanging out on a boat, then unless you are retired, you /ARE/ a boy.

And yes, while shorts are usually appropriate for those situations, once one leaves those trousers and a shirt with buttons are more appropriate.

As to "hot and humid", I'd like to introduce you to things like Linen. And certain weaves of wool that drape properly yet still let air flow through. You'll be MORE comfortable if you can keep your skin slightly moist and keep the sun off it.

As to shirts and ties being uncomfortable, get a shirt that fits properly. Hell, you can have them custom made to the 1/4 inch neck and sleeve length for less than you pay at Brooks Brothers or Nordstroms.

There is simply no excuse for wandering around looking like some tweaking grunge monkey.

Doc Merlin said...

Read between the lines... she (and the other female commenters) don't want men to stop wearing shorts. They want men who don't have sufficiently physically attractive legs to stop wearing shorts.

Anyway they miss the entire point of the commercials. It was not "stop wearing shorts you look like a boy" it was "start acting like a man and wear the pants in your relationships." Many men feel that they have been emasculated by women this series of adds was trying to tap into that... and sell men, "manliness." Althouse, I don't think its something you understand, but it is making a big dent in our society. The dove add for example wasn't trying to sell pants but it played into the same theme of trying to sell manliness to men.

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Ann, et al.
RE: Heh

"If you are in shorts, you are not a man." -- Ann

Tell that to my face, babe.

Where I live, I wear black in the Winter, it absorbs heat from the Sun, and loose-fitting shirts, shorts, sandals and a broad-brimmed hat in the Summer, it's that 'warm'.

And if Airborne-Rangers aren't 'man' enough for you, you got SERIOUS problems with reality.

RE: Indeed

Tell that to a couple of generations of British soldiers, particularly, the Desert Rats. -- edrutcher

You dress for the environment, if you're smart.

HELL! Scottish Highlanders wear 'skirts', a.k.a. kilts. And I have serious doubts that they'd take kindly to Ann's definition of proper garb.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[The height of sophistication is not caring what other people think of your attire.]

P.S. As long as it's not indecent or against reasonable law.

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Doc Merlin, et al.
RE: Actually....

It [the point of the commercials] was not "stop wearing shorts you look like a boy" it was "start acting like a man and wear the pants in your relationships." -- Doc Merlin

....neither (1) dressing nor (2) acting 'like a man' MAKES one a man.

BEING a man is what causes one to act like one.

Acting is for those clowns in Hollywood or those idiot meterosexuals.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
P.S. Wanna BE a 'man'?

Visit your local Army recruiter and sign up to go Airborne-Ranger....

Moose said...

So, I guess if shorts on men are age inappropriate, then we can start making fun of the middle aged CPAs dressing like golf pros and all the twits in their North Face gear.

I keep wanting to go up to North Face crowd and asked them what mountain they climbed last...

Moose said...

Oh, and one other point: it's not the pants or their length. Its what's underneath.

Sod off.

Ann Althouse said...

"Althouse - I think we're talking about two different things. I think this ad is just echoing the old "who wears the pants in the family" stereotype. It's not about being a man, i.e., an adult, but the man, i.e., in charge of one's home."

Oh, I know, but that's a nice way of saying don't be weak, have some dominance and swagger. I think women are strong enough that that gets the men into a better position of equality. Plus, it's sexier. I'm not talking about an abusive, misogynistic clod. I'm talking about someone you want to be in a relationship with.

Ann Althouse said...

"Many men feel that they have been emasculated by women ..."

My point is: many men have emasculated themselves and they are not attractive to women. Shape up! If you feel emasculated by strong women, you need to improve yourself. Look like a man. Act like a man. And quit blaming women for your lack of manliness.

Kim said...

Clothing is not about "practicality" -- people in warm climates get no pass on this, or else you may as well eschew shirts in favor of vests.

It's about modesty -- and that's it. If you're going out in public, wear a shirt with a collar, and long trousers.

If you're working in your garden, or playing a sport, or on the beach: by all means, wear short pants. Otherwise, cover your damn legs.

And I don't give a rat's ass if you're a Ranger: if you wear shorts in public, I'll think you're a frigging Boy Scout.

Next up: baseball caps (another sign of the hopelessy puerile).

Ann Althouse said...

"Oh, and one other point: it's not the pants or their length. Its what's underneath."

Well, how are you going to get a woman to want to find out? You've got to have pants on before you can get pants off.

El Presidente said...

Professor Althouse,

Where shall I send the "great manly legs" picture in order to obtain my dispensation?

Trish said...

Blogger Fred4Pres said...

"Men wear trousers. Ladies wear pants."

2/8/10 7:14 AM


Men wear trousers. Women wear slacks.

But real men wear kilts. ;)

Beth said...

I'm not talking about an abusive, misogynistic clod. I'm talking about someone you want to be in a relationship with.

You are, true; but that series of emasculated male-themed ads was not. It was a huge anxiety fest. I found it all the weirder, juxtaposed against the manly contest unfolding in the game. Male football viewers are being cast as oppressed sadsacks; I'd be pissed off at that if I were male. Isn't it more fun to identify with those alpha males on the field? It's as if the advertisers are taunting the guys watching at home.

Beth said...

I have my own pants obsession: the Saints sometimes wear black pants, with black jerseys. It makes them look like modern ballet dancers, or leaping gazelles. Black really is slimming. They lose more often in that uniform. Their gold pants make them look more formidable, more muscular.

I hate those black pants.

We had a Twitter group going, #noblackpants, before the Vikings game, and demanded that the Saints be "properly panted." I guess I can't complain too much about the Althouse anti-shorts obsession - unreasonable and eccentric though it is. ;)

Vader said...

'"If you are in shorts, you are not a man."

Tell that to a couple of generations of British soldiers, particularly, the Desert Rats.'

The Desert Rats are as almost completely unlike the professor in shorts as it is possible for members of the same species and sex to be.

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Beth
RE: Heh

Male football viewers are being cast as oppressed sadsacks; I'd be pissed off at that if I were male. -- Beth

I would be PO'd too, if I watched television anymore. But we gave up on it back in '97. Instead, we watch movies and selected television videos from a collection 2000 titles.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Save yourselves. Kill your television.]

David said...

I leave in a part of the country where it is over 100 degrees daily for about 6 months a year. I wear long pants and a polo or button up shirt to work. I wear a coat and tie for meetings with upper management, weddings, funerals, and other rare special occasions.

At home, the golf course, the gym, the bowling alley, and running around town I wear shorts and tee shirts. My shorts range from mid thigh to my knees. My tee shirts are clean, unstained, and large enough to be a little baggy (I lost my tight fitting tee shirt shape about 15 years ago).

I do NOT wear flip-flops. At home I go barefoot, everywhere else I wear shoes.

I am comfortable dressing this way, my wife is comfortable being seen in public with me dressed like this. My teenaged kids are willing to be seen in public with me dressing like this.

The rest of you can bugger off. I don't care if you like, or approve of the way I dress or not. I am comfortable in my skin and my clothes, and the people in my life whose opinions matters to me are comfortable with me the way I am.

Moose said...

Not a problem Ann - if they have an open mind.

I read somewhere once that a man's idea of women's fashion was a matress strapped to her back.

That's how your fascination with men's pants come across.

Phyllis said...

A jaunty looking group of real man I should think: http://i103.photobucket.com/albums/m160/raj-rif/SCAN001.jpg
Coming from Florida explains a lot!
gary

Beaverdam said...

In the great Kingdom of Beaverdam we stroll nekid in the countryside.Bugs and coyote be damned.