It’s a rewarding thing after three years of being a daddy blogger, to see examples in the media of those who get it:
Dads don’t appreciate being represented as idiots who need to learn to behave and be better role models for their children.
Sadly, though, there are still media outlets trying to capitalize on the “Al Bundy” version of dad, in what I assume is a desperate (and subliminal) attempt to relate to the females viewers, who traditionally have more buying power than men.
Last night after Mommy and I put you to bed, we vegged out to ABC’s 20/20. At the end of the episode, there was a segment called “D Is For Dad And Dumb.”
In a generic disclaimer, the segment ended with the narrator proclaiming this: “Now we should say not all of the caught-on-tape moments involving dads are negative. Let’s wrap up with this thing up with clip from a father letting it all go. He’s become known as the “dancing dad” on the internet…”.
That’s right. Not all dads do bad things. Because the rest of us are just plain goofy, evidently. Dads either can’t be trusted or we’re simply clowns.
Let me remind you again of the name of the segment: ”D Is For Dad And Dumb.”
Nothing subtle about that. Unsurprisingly, here’s the closing line of the segment:
“So [the] bottom-line message to dads on this father’s day seems to be, don’t be an idiot. Don’t be an idiot, think about what you’re doing…”.
Okay, the question is this: Am I personally offended by 20/20′s “D Is For Dad And Dumb” segment?
I’m not angry, but I am disappointed. (Classic dad line.)
If I were to mention on Facebook that I oppose gay marriage, which I don’t, I would most likely be called a bigot within 20 seconds. However, it’s acceptable in media for good dads to be lumped in with the worst examples of fathers and no one raises a fuss.
I doubt anyone from ABC is reading this, but here is what I propose: Do a segment on 20/20 about how dads are tired of being portrayed as classic idiots. Show that the modern dad is very involved, caring, and is a proper role model.
Interview me. Let me explain it on national TV how a normal dad feels about the way I am stereotyped. It could be a segment called “D is For Dad and Dignified.”
If not, I’ll stick with the satisfaction of knowing my son and my wife think I’m a good dad; no disclaimers required.
As I made it clear in my review of the Robitussin commercial “Coughequence #8 Waking The Baby,” dads are trivialized in media, especially in commercials targeted towards women. One of the worst parts about dads being reduced to just standing there and/or making a mess is that this familiar and toxic concept is so easily received by audiences.
If the roles were reversed in that commercial, and it was the mom who coughed and woke the baby, leaving the husband to put the baby to bed alone, it would probably come across as bizarre to viewers.
But since it was the token unshaven dad, it goes unnoticed.
I think it’s weird in the commercial how the mom and dad are putting their baby to bed together, anyway. Why are they doing that? In my version of reality as a dad, Mommy and I took turns back when you were that little.
The only reason the dad was even there was to wake up the baby, creating a plot device in which Robitussin saves the day. So actually, the commercial would have been better had the dad not been there to begin with.
And so the subliminal message continues: Dads just get in the way when they do show up.
Fortunately, The Today Show‘s Matt Lauer evidently disagrees with that marketing approach. He believes that dads are very important, especially to their kids.
It’s the 30 second ad at the top of this page, by the way.
I liked it so much that I checked out the feature The Today Show did on it:
In this clip, Matt Lauer asks Eric Snow, Executive Director of Watch D.O.G.S., to explain just why dads are so important. His reply is fascinating:
“Study after study demonstrates that a child with a positive adult male role model actively engaged in his or her life is twice as likely to graduate high school as a child who doesn’t and is going to develop more socially, mentally, physically and academically… Dads make a huge difference.”
I get it that not every child has easy access to a positive adult male role model who is willing to be actively engaged in his or her life. That’s why I’m a sponsor for Men Of Valor, a mentoring program for children whose dads aren’t in the picture.
Every other Thursday night, you see me leaving right after dinner and you ask, “Daddy going to see his friend?” I mentor a 17 year-old boy.
I do this because I know the difference I can make by helping him develop more socially, mentally, physically, and academic, just by my presence and engagement as a positive adult male role model.
No, don’t get ahead of me on this one. I’m not implying that a peanut butter and jelly sandwich looks like a dirty diaper, in any way. Good guess, though.
This past weekend I changed one of your dirty diapers. Oddly enough, it’s been a while. Somehow with the timing of things, it’s rarely me that has that privilege.
Instead, it’s either one of your teachers at daycare, or Mommy, or a teacher in your class at church, but rarely me.
It’s not that I’m avoiding your dirty diapers.
After all, I of all people, a Generation Y daddy blogger, am very aware of the classic stereotype that dads are grossed out by changing their kid’s dirty diaper.
The thing is, I don’t mind changing your diapers. It’s my job and responsibility, and I take pride in it. Honestly, for any ad or commercial to portray a dad making a slight dramatic fuss over it is a tad offensive to me. I’m your dad, not a joke targeted at women to help sell diapers, dinner, or laundry detergent.
Sure, I admit that changing a dirty diaper isn’t necessarily fun. But my least favorite part of it isn’t actually the smell.
To be more candid than I should be, I’m used to the smell… aside from you.
The annoying thing about changing a dirty diaper is the process; which is the same reason making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches is a chore.
There are so many steps involved…
Get a clean diaper, predict the number of Wet Wipes it will take, get them out of the container in advance, find a good spot to change your diaper, give you a toy to distract you while I change your diaper, don’t get the mess on me or the floor or your clean diaper, put dirty diaper in a plastic disposable bag, throw away the dirty diaper outside, wash my hands…
Making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is nearly just as bad:
Get out the bread, peanut butter, jelly, a butter knife, and a napkin to the place the sandwich on top of; then spread on the peanut butter, then wash the knife, then the jelly, then place the two sides together and clean the knife again.
It’s a very lengthy ordeal!
In fact, now that I think of it, I’m starting to wonder which really is worse: Making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or changing a dirty diaper.
Well, at the least with the sandwich, I get to eat it afterwards. So yes, changing a dirty diaper is worse, but only slightly.
Top photo: A peanut butter and jelly sandwich open faced on a blue plate, Shutterstock.
It was a sort of liberating experience a few weeks ago at the Nashville Zoo, to realize A) that in addition to carrying around my son’s diaper bag, sort of like a purse, I was also actuallytoting my wife’s purse and B) I was strangely okay with that.
If you know me in the least little bit, you know how it’s simply my nature to ask deep, random questions both in real life and on Facebook, like “What is the male equivalent of a feminist?”
The first answer I received confirmed my own preconceived answer: “Wouldn’t that be a male chauvinist?” (It was a female who said that.)
The second response I got confirmed my own understanding of what feminism simply is:
“Good feminism: a movement to eliminate gender-based discrimination against females; promote fairness and equality previously not experienced by females in society; and expand the gender roles of females beyond traditionally accepted roles which previously limited their contributions, productivity, and value to society.”
By the way, it was a guy, Mike Zeigler, who gave that answer. He went on to further explain my frustrations with the kind of feminism that annoys me:
“Bad feminism: a movement to revolt against the male gender and usurp their position of dominance to the extent that women achieve complete dominance and precedence over men, thereby emasculating and feminizing men in the process.”
Meanwhile in the land of Twitter, fellow daddy blogger Zach Rosenberg of 8-Bit Dad gave an answer that caught me by surprise. I never thought of this, but I think he’s on to something:
“A feminist. Men, especially fathers, make the best feminists.”
What if the answer to my question is that simple? The male equivalent of a feminist is a man who himself is a feminist.
Look back to that paragraph defining “good feminism.” That’s what I believe in, support, and depend on. How can I not back feminism like that? I’m married to a woman and we have a son together.
If that’s not the kind of movement I am a fan of, then I am simply irrelevant as a modern dad. Therefore, in all seriousness, I consider myself a feminist.
Let’s back up again, though- all the way to the title. Why was it necessary for me to specify “heterosexual” dad?
The main reason is that as a heterosexual man, I can not relate to the social injustices that women, as well as homosexuals, have encountered throughout history.
To make matters worse, I happen to be middle class and white. Clearly, I do not represent a minority in any traditional sense: not for my gender, race, income level, nor sexual orientation.
Quite possibly, I am demographically the most unpitied stereotype in America. So for me to claim to be a feminist, it’s natural to assume I’m joking or making light of the subject; attempting to be ironic for a canned laugh. But I’m not.
It may not count for much, but for the simple fact that corporately sponsored daddy bloggers are extremely rare and I just happen to be one of them, representing the many dedicated dads out there who truly aren’t male chauvinists, maybe I actually do know a thing or two about being part of a minority.