In Defense of Dads

I’ve been thinking about how dads get treated in the media.

If we believed what we see on TV, we’d know that dads are at best incompetent buffoons and at worst maliciously lazy.

Have a look at the EvenFlo ad called “How To Survive 3 AM Feedings.”  It is so bad that I actually had to try a few times to get through it.  I just kept getting angry and having to turn it off.

Aside from the various breastfeeding myths that this video promotes (which I won’t get into in this post), Jack, the dad in this series, not only manages to spill his wife’s hard-won breastmilk all over the counter in the very finest traditions of as-seen-on-TV incompetence* but he actually leaves it all out for his wife to clean up.  Then, he ignores the crying baby who has very briefly settled and sneaks back into bed pretending that he’s already fed the baby.  His wife is woken up a few seconds later to the cries of the still hungry baby and he informs her that it’s her turn.

*You know, like the folks that can’t get the toothpaste on the toothbrush without the automatic toothpaste dispenser for only $19.99?

Here’s another goldie from EvenFlo called “Repair Your Husband’s Bruised Ego.”

Apparently, according to the commercial, it’s better to preserve a man’s ego by allowing him to install a carseat incorrectly (it should be rear-facing for a child that age) rather than going ahead and asking for help from carseat installation experts.  Something about penis size I think.

Now it’s not just EvenFlo putting out commercials with idiot dads.

Here’s one from AT&T.  At the end, the dad tries to put the diaper on the baby’s head.  Really?

Here’s a huggies one with another dad who can’t seem to change a diaper:

The list goes on and on and on.  Start looking for it as you watch TV.  You will notice it particularly with kid/baby products and cleaning supplies.

“Aw, geez, Molly.  It’s just a joke.  Can’t you take a joke?”

Well, yeah.  I can take a joke.  I like jokes.  I laugh at jokes.  But quite honestly, when “just a joke” marginalizes an entire segment of the population, I just don’t find it particularly funny.  And these ads do marginalize dads.  These ads tell parents that it’s okay for Dad to be an idiot.  It’s okay for him to be the butt of the jokes.  Who cares if he can’t change a diaper?  Mom will swoop in and do it better anyway (and often with a condescending leer).

This just isn’t fair.  Dads deserve better.  They deserve for companies to treat them as equal partners in raising their children.  More and more dads are becoming stay-at-home dads.  Dads cook.  Dads clean.  Dads do laundry.

Moms deserve better, too.  This played out joke gives permission to some men to behave in incompetent and maliciously lazy ways.  It reinforces the notion that the mom is the primary parent and the dad is just window dressing.  It leaves her with the brunt of the child-rearing, and in families where both parents work full-time, this kind of pressure can push moms past their breaking point.

It’s not fair to dads, moms, or kids.

So advertising companies, please.  I’m begging you.  Let this tired joke die.  It’s old.  It’s played out.  Let’s show some commercials with the kinds of dads I’m familiar with: dads who are actively engaged in their childrens’ lives, who are intelligent, who carry an equal share of the housekeeping responsibilities, and who partner equally with their wives to keep the family together.  Let’s leave off with the stupid and lazy stereotype.  We all deserve better.