Calvin Klein Exposed


Author Phillip Dye

Phillip Dye is a lecturer in Communication at UTS, a professional musician and a freelance writer. His first book on fatherhood is being published later this year by Allen and Unwin and in this, his first piece for Manhood Online, Phil takes a long hard look at pouts, underpants and Calvin Klein.
I don’t wear Calvin Klein underwear. OK, I’ve come out and said it. I don’t even look like the bloke in the ad at my bus stop. I don’t pout much and I’ve got more fat on me than he has. So’s my budgie.

I noticed the other day that he didn’t have any hair on his chest either. I have and it’s going a bit grey. I reckon I’m also a bit shorter and he’s got a tan. Hard to really see it in a black and white photo but I’m quite sure he’s tanned.

But I’d like to go back to the pout. You’d think if he’s wearing such great undies he’d be happy about it! If they’re so damn comfortable and pull the chicks like the ad implies he’d be over the moon. Nope, he’s pretty sad it seems. Maybe they’re too tight! Maybe he forgot to take the cardboard liner out! Maybe he just forgot to smile!

The real truth it seems is that men don’t smile. Men don’t laugh and men don’t cry either. Men are serious, straight faced and up to the gills with the importance of life.

Like their female counterparts on the cover of Cosmo or Cleo, men are brooding, sensuous sex machines. So where does that leave me?

I suppose I don’t really rate much as a man. Come to think of it, it seems I don’t know many men at all. Most of the men I know laugh a lot. Some have a persistent smile. Most of us cry at times or are occasionally sad about our lives or what’s happening in the world. Unlike the man (sic) in the Calvin Kleins, we live in a colourful world. We also get dirty at times and look pretty messy.

We’re gardeners, musicians, managers, writers, teachers, labourers, mechanics and vets. I don’t know any models, but if I did I know my life would be different. Just knowing one man like the one in the Calvins would be great. I’m sure a whole new world would open up for me.

I had sex the other night and strained my left knee. God it hurts. Wasn’t doing anything way-out yet must have just stayed too long in the one position. That wouldn’t happen to the guy in the Calvins. He’d just go at it forever and never need a rest.

But I’d just like to get back to the pout for a minute. I still can’t believe it. I’m the one who should be pouting. I’m the one with the greying hair and the crook knee! My mates don’t pout either and they’ve got worse problems! So what’s with this guy?

I meet once a month with some men to discuss our lives and the concerns of our community in general. I brought the guy in the Calvins up at the last meeting and we discussed him for a while. We thought that if could find out who he was we might be able to talk to him. Do a bit of group therapy. Find out what in the hell makes him pout so much. Even invite him along and see what’s happening in his world.

After a while, we decided not to bother. We agreed that we didn’t have much in
common with this bloke and others like him. We actually felt that even with his flash undies, we probably have better lives. We at least live our lives in colour.

In general, men aren’t black and white. They have hairs on their chest and they don’t pout much. They also don’t appear often in bus stop advertisements. Men are beginning to question their mass media roots. We’re not all addicted to the footy show. We don’t all act like Al Bundy nor do we look like Ray Martin.

At my bus stop this morning I noticed he wasn’t there any more. He’d been replaced. Another black and white, pouting and hairless bloke was this time showing off his sunglasses. I thought he had swimming goggles on at first. Like the Calvins, these glasses also looked too tight.

This time though I don’t feel so bad. You see I know exactly why this bloke is pouting. It’s the same reason as the other guy. It’s because no matter how much money he’s paid, he knows deep down that this image just doesn’t fit. The image, like the fashion, is too tight. It’s constraining and downright wrong. He’s become a victim of his sunglasses. The other bloke’s a victim of his Calvins.

Across Australia. In the factories, in the universities and in suburban loungerooms like mine, men are deciding it’s time for a change. While our advertising boys remain prepared to be victims of their fashion, men are deciding to no longer be a victim of their bus stops.

Photography by Michaela – Phil's daughter.

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