Yeah, you heard me. I’m “raging” against Amazon Mom again.
It’s been a while. It was August of 2012 when I last wrote about how nonsensical it is for Amazon to continue to insist that they have to use “Amazon Mom” for their program — aimed at busy parents who would like diapers delivered to their door at a discount — because their only other option is apparently “Amazon Primary Caregiver.” What’s wrong with “Amazon Family?” I asked. I never got an answer. I encouraged people to sign a petition, put together by my friend Jeffrey, asking for Amazon to consider the change. But it never took off.
I wasn’t the only one writing about the issue though. Almost two years ago today, my friend Oren wrote about the issue as well. It meant something to him. A lot, actually. And it’s in his honor that I (and others) have decided to take up the issue again.
Because it’s time for this to finally change.
This week, Similac released a new campaign video that has been getting a lot of attention, and with good reason. It’s funny, it’s touching, and it sends a fantastic message about parenting: that we’re all in this together, and judging one another helps no one.
It’s really quite fantastic… right up until the last second, when they drop the ball. At least, if the idea is actually to support all parents.
Now that Mother’s Day has come and gone, the slow trickle of dad-stuff is about to begin, as advertisers and marketers and the media in all its forms start looking for ways to move the focus onto dads. (At least for a couple of weeks.)
Sadly, this usually means a whole lot of (perhaps) well-meaning discussion about dads that still present one of the many falsehoods, fabrications, and outright lies about fathers that just won’t seem to die. Some of these things are annoyances. Others are actually incredibly harmful to families, to kids, and to the dads themselves.
Since we’re still early in the Father’s Day pre-season, I thought I’d nip these in the bud right away.
Sometimes you think you’ve seen it all when it comes to the whole “boy toy” and “girl toy” thing. I thought maybe we’d reached Peak Pink, especially with that McDonald’s “chief diversity officer” just last week announcing that:
It is McDonald’s intention and goal that each customer who desires a Happy Meal toy be provided the toy of his or her choice, without any classification of the toy as a ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ toy and without any reference to the customer’s gender. We have recently reexamined our internal guidelines, communications and practices and are making improvements to better ensure that our toys are distributed consistent with our policy.
Apparently that doesn’t mean they have figured out the ridiculousness of this sort of thing though.
Apparently, even super-talented, well-meaning guys still fall back on tired, harmful stereotypes when Mother’s Day rolls around and they want to pander to moms and sell videos to churches.
Too cynical? Maybe. You decide for yourself.
Here’s the latest from “The Skit Guys,” two long-time friends who have made a career out of writing, producing, and starring in family-friendly, faith-inspired videos.
First, a little history lesson for those just joining us:
If you don’t recall, Proctor & Gamble became the “Proud Sponsor of Moms” back during the 2010 Winter Olympics. Then came the debut of a massive global advertising campaign, the largest in its history, during the 2012 Summer Olympics. They called it “Thank you, Mom.” Between the two Olympics, P&G’s extremely talented ad people made several exceptionally well done, tear-jerking commercials about the hardworking moms of Olympic athletes. They even covered the travel expenses of moms so they could fly to London, and they pampered them in the P&G “Home Away From Home” to “help keep U.S. moms connected with their athletes.” It was an expansive campaign, that continues on long after the Olympics were over under the #ThankYouMom banner.
Let me be clear: cynicism about this being an ad campaign aside, thanking mom is totally admirable, because, let’s face it, moms are amazing and worthy of being thanked and thanked and thanked.
But like many others I had to ask the same thing: Where are the dads?
“Men Are Obsolete.”
So declares Hanna Rosin, in the title of her recent Time.com piece, subtitled “Five reasons we are definitely witnessing the end of men,” adapted from her “opening statement” at a recent debate in Toronto, Canada about gender in the 21st century.
Rosin is no stranger to using click-bait titles in order to drum up interest and controversy. She famously penned The End of Men, and is a frequent target for those looking to argue on the internet about gender.
I wasn’t going to respond to her article at all, but I feel like I should, if only because I hate that the anti-feminist, misogynistic troll brigade from the “men’s rights” movement can’t be the only ones calling her out. They are not the counterpoint to her actual arguments, they are merely evidence of the death rattle of the kind of masculinity she describes. I can only see so many people posting photos of women with and without makeup — apparently as evidence that feminism sucks? I have no idea how those are responses to her points! — or declarations that she just straight-up hates men.
So here goes…
Dear Parents Who Are Panicking About Secret Stalker-Friendly GPS Data Embedded In Every Photo Of Your Child: Stop it. Just stop it.
UPDATED! See update below.
You’ve almost surely seen this, which has been making the rounds the last day or so everywhere parents gather. By which, of course, I mean on Facebook:
WARNING!!!! If you take photos with your cell phone
“Warning” If you, your kids or grand kids take pics from your phone—WATCH THIS!
This is truly alarming – please take the time to watch. At the end they’ll tell you how to set your phone so you don’t run this risk!
PLEASE PASS THIS INFO TO ANYONE YOU KNOW WHO TAKES PICTURES WITH THEIR CELL OR SMART PHONE AND POSTS THEM ONLINE.
I want everyone of you to watch this and then be sure to share with all your family and friends.
It’s REALLY important info, about what your posting things on your cell phones can do TO YOU!!!
Too much technology out there these days so beware………..
PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO WATCH THIS VIDEO, AND TAKE THE RECOMMENDED PRECAUTIONS.
If you have children or grandchildren you NEED to watch this. I had no idea this could happen from taking pictures on the blackberry or cell phone. It’s scary.
Are you scared yet?
Because if the above is to be believed, this threat to our children is “legitimately terrifying.”
This “menu of nearby children” is unknown even to Internet Crime Experts (!) … but apparently well known to local cannibals!
Well. Thank goodness that this video, posted by NBC Action News in Kansas City onto YouTube back in November 2010, is around to remind us how terrified to be… three years ago! If only we’d all seen it then, how many children could have been saved!?
I get sent a lot of links to various and sundry incidents where a brand has stepped over the line when it comes to their depiction of fatherhood. Believe it or not, I post about very few of them.
But today a new article on the official Clorox webpage entitled “6 Mistakes New Dads Make” [*Update: It has now been pulled, but here’s a Google cache version*] was brought to my attention, and I just can’t stay quiet about it.
It starts off with a bang:
Saying ‘No-no’ is not just for baby. Like dogs or other house pets, new Dads are filled with good intentions but lacking the judgment and fine motor skills to execute well. Here are a few dangerous no-nos new Dads might make, and some training tips.
No, you did not read that wrong.
Clorox — or some poor social media intern who, at this point used to work for Clorox — actually wrote those words. Dads are like dogs. Well-meaning, but dumb and unable to complete basic tasks.
Just when you think advertisers have been paying attention, you’re reminded that we still have a long, long way to go.
Did this past year live up to being the often-predicted “Year of the Dad?” You could certainly argue yes based solely by the media attention that was directed towards stay-at-home dads, and “involved dads” in general. Some of the attention has been good, some of it bad, some of it weirdly condescending as it heaps unnecessary praise for doing little, and some of it astoundingly backwards in its conclusions about why more dads are getting involved and questioning whether it’s a good idea.
And in all of this, for some reason, even the best pieces about stay-at-home dads can’t seem to help asking some variation of what I simply call “The Question,” posed to just about every stay-at-home dad interviewed, ever:
Let me be clear with my short answer: “No. Not at all.”
Unfortunately, that doesn’t make for a very compelling interview, so I’ll expound a little . . .
A stay-at-home dad calls to schedule a play date for the kids—can you get them together without “dating” him?
Because while the tots race around the park, you are spending time alone with someone else’s husband. Maybe you never thought of it that way. But experts say you should and for good reason.
So begins a recent article from Make It Better, a Chicago-area magazine, that made the rounds online today amongst a lot of at-home dads I know.
It is called “Navigating Play Dates with Stay-at-Home Dads,” and it examines with some pretty shocking myopathy the potential pitfalls for your average stay-at-home mom whose child has the apparent misfortune of making friends with a child with a stay-at-home dad. In particular, it addresses how spending time alone with one of these dads during a “play date” is — like it or not — a “date,” and apparently at any moment could break out into a full-fledged affair if you’re not careful.
Now, I’m all for being mindful of respecting your spouse and avoiding the appearance of impropriety. I think it’s important to safeguard your marriage against certain temptations. The article does indeed contain some good nuggets of wisdom in this regard.
But at some point we need to recognize that people cheat for a lot of reasons, and very rarely is it because they accidentally find themselves together with someone of the opposite sex while watching their children play.
I mean, this sort of thing is really unfair to both men and women, as adults capable of controlling themselves, and does nothing but hamper the ability of dads to be accepted as fully capable parents. And never mind how it hampers that dad’s kids from being able to simply socialize with their friends without it being under a cloud of suspicion of simmering urges by the parents.
Look, we dads already face enough trouble finding acceptance by the moms in our community, by virtue of the whole “man around small children = possible child predator” thing. Adding “potential homewrecker” to our warning label doesn’t help anyone, least of all our kids.
I’m sure this all sounds like a bunch of worry over nothing, and the truth is we had more fun with the idea that only ugly dads get invited for playdates (the article warns against scheduling play dates with “a dad you find attractive”) than we are actually upset at the author or Make It Better.
But there is a very real problem of discrimination against dads in the realm of parenting, of which articles like this are symptomatic. That is made much clearer when you reverse this article to be addressing how working men can best “navigate” meetings with female coworkers.
This parenting thing can be pretty tough in a lot of ways.
Whether it’s the late nights and constant diaper changes of little ones, the day-to-day frustrations of trying to teach a toddler how to be a kind and respectful human being, or dealing with teenagers who simultaneously depend on you for everything but feel they need you for nothing. Parenting is tough.
But one of the toughest aspects, for me, has been how to be gracious with those who don’t stop to think about what they are saying when they comment on my being home with the boys.
In general I think I’m pretty good at it, by which I mean I look for a kind and non-confrontational way to answer a question or respond to a comment. Sometimes the best way is to smile and say nothing. Other times the right words come. And sometimes I stumble over my answer or say the wrong thing.
In my mind, I usually know what I would like to say, hoping that my snarky sarcasm would get the point across. But I don’t say it, because far too often snarky sarcasm looks suspiciously like being a jerk, which is sort of the opposite of being gracious.
To that end — and to get some of this off of my chest — here are some examples of what I would like to say, but don’t, in no particular order…
A few years ago now, Amazon.com revealed a new membership program they call “Amazon Mom,” and I signed up almost immediately.
Over the years, I’ve felt guilty about it.
Now, I love the program for our household, as do many, many others. I love that I can subscribe to diapers and wipes and get them delivered to our door regularly, at a price that meets or even beats those from the local big-box stores.
“But wait!” you say, “You’re a dad, not a mom! Don’t you mean that your wife is part of the program?”
Well, no. I am. Me. The parent with the penis.
It’s not like I need to be a “mom” to join, anyhow. According to Amazon, the program is “aimed at helping parents and caregivers in the prenatal through toddler years use Amazon to find and save on all the products their family needs.” Nothing there about being for moms only, right?
So why do they call it Amazon Mom, if the program is for more than just moms, you ask?
Well, you’re not alone in wondering, and many people feel like it’s time for a change.
The other day Babble blogger Cody “They Call Me Cody” Mullins wrote a pretty terrible Mother’s Day fluff-piece entitled “Top 10 Things Mothers do Better than Fathers.”
I say it was terrible, because, frankly, it was. In his estimation, mothers beat dads at: hugging, treating injuries, changing diapers (he must not have heard Huggies can help with that!), making healthy food, keeping the kids clean, snuggling (arguably different than hugging, I guess?), cooking (which is different than making healthy food, apparently), going out with the kids (?), expressing emotion, and making kids feel better (which is way different than how they treat injuries with their magic mommy-powers!).
Obviously I was not a fan. I guess if he’d called it “10 Ways my Wife is a Better Parent Than I Am” I would have less problem with it — at the very least maybe it would serve as a list of ways he recognizes that he can try to step up his parenting game a little. But no, it was all about how Moms are better than Dads at these things. Which might even be true in some areas, but I think most people know that cooking, cleaning, not forgetting the diaper bag, and administering first-aid are not abilities determined by whether your chromosomes are XX or XY. They are abilities you get by having a willingness to learn and the opportunity to try.
Anyhow, the worst thing about the post, as it turns out, wasn’t actually the article itself, but the comments about it on Babble’s Facebook page. They linked to it with the words: “Finish this sentence. The one thing that mothers do better than fathers is ___________. (Then see what this dad said!)”
I can’t even describe to you how disheartening the responses turned out to be…
To Anyone Who Cares at Huggies / Kimberly-Clark,
As you probably know, as of a few minutes ago, our petition asking you to end your “Dad Test” ad campaign reached over 1000 signatures.
That’s 1000 people, customers and potential customers, men and women, dads and moms, kids and grandparents, all saying “Huggies, we do not accept that this is okay!”
When will you acknowledge that you messed this one up and take steps to make it right? How long will you keep ignoring us? At this point your good intentions are irrelevant, and your form letter a slap in the face.
We don’t want a boycott. We don’t want coupons. We don’t want this replaced with a commercial that trumps up a dad who competently changes diapers into Super Dad.
We just want dialogue with a company who will treat us like equally capable parents, and equally valuable customers.
To anyone reading this who thinks that this “Dad Test” is outrageous and unacceptable, please visit, read, and sign the petition. They can ignore us on here, but in numbers we can get the message through.
Please sign the petition, and share it with anyone you know who is tired of seeing fathers treated like dummies. Even well-meaning or loving dummies.
This week Huggies unleashed its new dad-centric “Ultimate Dad Test” commercials, and they’ve ignited another mini-firestorm.
First of all, Huggies, I want to say what you got right here. Like in this video (sorry, can’t embed Facebook videos).
The dads in the commercials look like real dads, and are actually displaying a level of competence and general daddy-baby affection that is, frankly, rarely seen. The image of these guys with their content, sleeping, well-fed babies is really nice. So good job on that. I don’t know who these guys are, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they are all actual dads with their babies. Nice. Yeah, five guys with five babies is going to be a chaotic scene at times too, which we see, and kudos for showing what parenting really looks like: controlled chaos. On first viewing the two videos you have posted both seem pretty good. Cute, even.
So no, the problem isn’t in what you have the dads doing or how they are parenting, it’s in the whole concept of the campaign.
SEE BELOW FOR AN UPDATE!
Get comfy kids, this will be a long one . . .
A couple of days ago, a video was posted on an at-home dad Facebook group page, of yet another incident where Seattle’s Mars Hill Church pastor Mark Driscoll makes statements that malign stay-at-home dads.
This one wasn’t the ridiculous “stay-at-home dads are worse than unbelievers” thing from a few years ago, but rather a sermon segment from last year about one “cowardly” kind of man he called “Little Boy Larry,” who stood as a representative of men who are really just boys that never grew up. Nice guys, but guys who don’t really want a wife, they want a new mommy to take care of them. The important part comes when he included in his description of this man-boy the line: “He’ll come up with dumb ideas, like ‘I’ll be the stay-at-home dad.'”
Naturally, this led to a handful of comments from at-home dads in the Facebook group, myself included, talking about how silly such a statement is, and lamenting that Driscoll’s wrongheaded, machismo-filled ideal of manhood and fatherhood is influencing so many. One of the comments included the statement that, in their opinion, the work of an at-home parent in “raising the next generation” is the “most difficult and manly job imaginable.” Somewhat hyperbolic, sure, but I don’t think the importance of involved fatherhood can ever really be overstated.
Anyhow, the video itself aside, fast forward a couple of days, and a new comment appeared that, well, I just couldn’t let go.
See Update Below!
I saw this posted earlier today, and, like the person who posted it, I was really happy to see a commercial where an at-home dad (or any dad at all, frankly) is shown as a competent person, capable of taking care of things at home:
Pretty good, right?
I mean, yeah, the whole “haha he’s a dude yet he knows how to braid hair” thing is a little cheap, but it’s cute and pretty funny and I’d WAY rather see humor based on how good a guy is at something domestic or child-related than how he’s a bumbling buffoon, whose place in laundry commercials is only to be the guy who shrank or discolored something. Again.
So, in that vein, I want to make this really clear: I honestly believe that this commercial exists because someone (and very likely several “someones”) at Tide really is conscious that there are dads out there who care about doing their laundry well, and are trying to present at-home dads in a positive light. Maybe it’s just recognition of an untapped market-segment, rather than an attempt to be progressive as a company about parenting roles. I don’t know.
But I appreciate it. I really do.
Then I saw the name of the clip, as titled on YouTube by whoever at Tide (it was posted by Tide) does their social media: “Tide – My Tide TV Commercial – Dad Mom Short Version.”
Something didn’t feel right.
What the heck is a Dad Mom?