It’s no secret that I am perhaps the most… peculiar person at my office.
No, not just because I’m the token vegan, or the guy that refuses to use microwaves, or because I go mountain biking during my lunch break.
I’m also the guy that likes to unleash subliminal social experiments among my coworkers.
Last Friday, the new monthly coupon advertisements were delivered to the break room, featuring discounts for local businesses.
One of them is for a lodge-themed restaurant featuring scantily clad young women as the waitresses, who on the ad, all looked so happy to be wearing so little flannel. (Not to mention, the name of the restaurant is a play on words that is definitely not discreet about what part of the female body it is alluding to.)
I remember about a year ago, when word came out that the fairly new “breastaurant” chain was moving to the very Republican part of Nashville my office is located. There were people evidently trying to boycott that from happening.
As for me, the token Libertarian of the office, my stance was that if the free market financially supports a corny, degrading-to-women restaurant like that, then let it be.
Turns out, there are enough customers willing to support the place to keep it alive and well, because, afterall… “The food is really good there!” I am told.
Here’s where I’m going with this story: I am raising you to see women as… women. Not objects. I’m raising you to see them as somebody’s daughters.
Just to subliminally reinforce this concept to my coworkers, I printed out in size 10 font, the phrase “A.K.A. Somebody’s Daughters,” then cut it out and taped it underneath the restaurant’s logo and the picture of the uniformed models used for the ad.
When word finally got around this week who was behind the prank, because after all, everyone in the office saw those coupons laying there on the table all week, some were surprised it was me: A happily married 32 year-old man with a 3 year-old son.
I responded by saying, “What- did you assume it was an ultraconversative feminist?” (Whatever that means.)
Nope, it was a guy, who is raising his son to treat women with respect. I want to raise you as one less willing customer for a restaurant like that… no matter how good the “food” is.
On second thought, maybe I really am an ultraconservative feminist… if male Libertarians are allowed to be them?
P.S. This is one of those letters that is to be reserved for when you’re older. But while I’ve got it on my mind, I wanted to give you this “life advice” today and I’ll just bookmark it for when the time is right for you to hear it. In the mean time, enjoy the simple life of being a 3 year-old, please!
At this point in American society, it is basically becoming taboo to stereotype dads and husbands as half-witted goons, as was accepted in recent decades. It used to be that advertisers could target stay-at-home moms by making a caricature of their husbands. But now that dads make up 33% of stay-at-home parents, that model is essentially invalid.
The video clip above very humorously shows several examples of commercials where this sexist approach has still been recently used by Lysol, Hasbro, Cheerios, Benadryl, Febreeze, Naturemade, Stanley Steamer, Glade Sense and Spray, Uno Attack, Walmart, Orville Rendenbacher’s, Ortho, and Yellowbook.
“Doofy Husbands: Target Women” by Sarah Haskins also cleverly points out examples of commercials targeted to men; featuring cool, good-looking guys: Infiniti, Nivea, Heineken, and Miller Lite. Of course, in these advertisements the men are assumed to be single; whereas in the ones where men are goof balls, they are clearly married.
Basically, once you marry the man, it’s like watching the opposite of the evolution of man.
At the time, I subconsciously thought for a half-second: “Wait, it almost sounds like they are making fun of dads; implying that dads are bumbling idiots who barely know how to change a diaper- one of the very ideas that I passionately denounce here on The Dadabase.”
But then I stopped myself with this rebuttal: “No, by putting dads to the ultimate test they mean that dads are tough on messes, like Mr. Clean. Yeah, that’s it… sure.”
So I moved forward with promoting it as a legitimate dad ad; because ultimately, a sponsor was making a point to acknowledge the involvement of dads regarding their product and I recognized (and still recognize) the importance of that.
Now here we are, living two weeks into the future, and a full-time stay-at-home Superdad named Chris Routly has gotten over 1,000 people (as of this minute) to sign a petition against the ad:
“Please, join me in asking them to drop the ‘Ultimate Test: Dad’ element entirely, and instead focus on actually celebrating the wonderfully active dads who use HUGGIES every day with the same competence and care as moms.”
I say this Chris Routly fellow is a smart guy and he makes a valid point.
He’s not being dramatic and asking dads, who currently make up 1/3 of stay-at-home parents, to ban Huggies. Instead, he’s asking Huggies to recognize their mistake and redirect their energy on a different ad that undoubtedly celebrates dads instead of questions their parenting abilities based on gender.
Chris Routly puts it this way, in his petition:
“How are dads a test? As a dad, am I simply too dumb to use them properly?
Why is a dad on diaper duty an appropriate or meaningful test of the product in any way a mom using them is not?
Why reduce dads to being little more than test dummy parents, putting diapers and wipes through a ‘worst-case scenario’ crash course of misuse and abuse?”
I think however this all pans out, it will be a valuable (and expensive) lesson to all advertisers from now on:
Don’t insult dads and husbands. We’re 33% of your buying power as stay-at-home parents.
Sex sells; so does the idea of empowerment to women.
As the author of The Dadabase, I have made it clear that my mission is to positively re-brand fatherhood. In part, what that means is that I am attempting to undo the negative imaging of dads due to both A) lousy, absent, abusive dads throughout history and B) idiotic bozo examples of fathers in sitcoms and other media particularly during the 1980′s and 1990′s. It means I focus on the good dads out there and that I choose not to paint men in a negative light.
I am equally passionate about women not being degraded in society, as well. Admittedly, that’s a harder subject to address, for the fact I am a guy writing a blog that is primarily read by women- I have to be careful not to be seen as a bigot or a sexist.
The way I am wired causes me to see the world differently than women and I’ve been noticing something I just have to point out. Sure, I am putting myself in a vulnerable situation today, but I am choosing to be brave enough to acknowledge the irony in what is often viewed as empowerment to women.
Therefore, the best and most popular example I can think of is the beautiful, talented, and very intelligent artist, Beyonce. I invite you to watch her latest hit video on YouTube by clicking the pink link below; you may remember this video from when it premiered world-wide on the most recent season of American Idol:
From a man’s perspective, here’s how I interpret the meaning of the video:
Beyonce and a bunch of her scantily clad friends are in a battle with a group of dudes armed in riot gear. In the style of classic Michael Jackson, Beyonce and her crew stun and defeat the men simply because of their hip dance moves, plus a whole lot of sexual imagery. In the end, Beyonce removes the badge from the leader of the dudes, signifying that the girls beat the boys in the battle.
So ultimately, in my skewed perspective, the lesson learned from the video is that women can be more powerful than men by influencing them through sexuality; in particular, by wearing little clothing and doing plenty of body thrusts. (Cleavage shaking is a must!) As for women using their intellect, well, it’s not really about that. It’s actually about overpowering violent, sexually frustrated men by seducing them with the female body.
Challenge my analysis, please. Show me how this sort of imagery is empowering to women. Because in my testosterone triggered perception, this attempt of empowerment to women is actually degrading to women instead.
The way a woman dresses obviously sends a message to a man. I invite you to go to Google Images and type in “Beyonce 4″ and try to imagine what message is received by men when they see the album cover of her newest release, which contains “Run the World (Girls).”
I’ll give you a hint: It’s not, “Wow, I have a new respect for women now, but not at all in a sexual way. Women are strong, intelligent, and deserve the respect of men.”
So why am I singling out Beyonce, arguably America’s most influential pop star among young women right now? Why not point out the obvious “sex sells” marketing strategies of Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, or Ke$ha?
Because people actually take Beyonce seriously. By far, Beyonce truly influences people beyond her music. She herself encompasses the idea of empowerment to women.
Notice I used the phrase “the idea of.”
For me, this is the wrong kind of feminism; it’s ineffective and damaging. Using sexuality to promote the independence of women is simply self-defeating.
Believe it or not, I am a huge supporter of empowerment to women. Knowing that across the world, there are girls and women who are sold into the sex trade, forced into abusive marriages, and deprived of education, I simply see that as hell on earth. Meanwhile in America, young girls are being taught through example by their pop star role models that flaunting sexuality is the key to having power in this world.
Call me a sexist, but I say that true empowerment to women has nothing to do with enticing men through sexuality. In fact, I say that’s the greatest threat.
So the legend goes, pregnant women get crazy cravings for weird food combinations. The token pairing of pickles and ice cream has become so familiar that it’s now a swanky maternity clothing store. But is it a funny cliché or simply a reality? For us, it’s the real deal.
Though my wife has not once dealt with morning sickness throughout the pregnancy, she has definitely battled leg cramps. Of course, I’ve documented how she’s overcome them, by giving her body a surplus of the nutrients the baby is taking. Yet since then, as our baby has been getting much bigger, the discovery of pickles (which provide electrolytes) and ice cream (which provides calcium) has helped ensure those leg cramps are kept at bay.
And hey, I’ve got no complaints. Last Friday night we had to make an “ice cream run” after dinner at the house. She chose a box of fat free Vanilla frozen yogurt, while I chose a low fat French Silk Chocolate. As usual, she liked mine better. Her secret to eating low fat ice cream is this- add two spoons of peanut butter and a little Hershey’s Syrup. Some might think this defeats the purpose of low fat ice cream. We’d rather live in ignorant bliss.
All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography: