Dads Aren’t Oppressed So Let’s Stop Pretending Like They Are
Zach Rosenberg, aka 8BitDad (whose blog I do love by the way) got very perturbed over a BuzzFeed list entitled “24 Reasons Kids Should Never Be Left Alone With Their Dads”, a list that is both stupid and unfunny with it’s proclamation that “Dads are basically just giant children”. It features a bunch of photos of kids doing questionable things with the understanding that dads are big, bumbling morons who use their children as photo props. Some of the pictures aren’t explicitly parental gender specific, like one with a dollhouse toilet filled with raisins. A mom could have done that. I would have done that.
So what’s a poor, repressed man to do? Make an equally dumb list, of course, one with more nongender-specific items on it that argue the case for leaving your kid at home with dad, including such penis exclusive activities as:
“They Make the Coolest Lunch Pack-ins” and “They’re Not Afraid of Creepy-Crawlies” Wow! Lunch notes and lizards! If only my menstrual cycle permitted me to touch geckos and write notes. But alas…
I get it. These lists are dumb. The author of the “24 Reasons…” list on Buzzfeed also writes quizzed that aren’t afraid to ask the tough questions, like “What Type Of Chicken Tender Is Right For You?”
Commercials with big, idiot bumbling dad-like automatons are stupid too. My husband and I talk about this a lot, sometimes turning the volume down on the T.V. to replace the dialogue: “What do you mean blenders need lids?” “Milk goes IN the bowl?” “Honey, your mouth hole is moving but the game is on. I don’t understand.”
But the one thing that my husband understands about these is that these types of stereotypes, while being rude and worse, unfunny, don’t hurt men the way that they hurt women. Like the men that relinquish control of their penises when there are leggings about, men in commercials just can’t seem to figure out how to function at simple tasks, and both cliches put the onus on women to come on through and fix it with long denim skirts and Swiffer sweepers.
To be fair, I think the point of Rosenberg’s list was to portray men doing things with their kids in a natural, positive light. In that, he succeeds. He uses a lot of really sweet pictures of guys fathering the hell out of their kids, and it’s nice to see that. I really liked all of the images he used.
The whole thing smacks of my favorite phrase: “But what about the MEN??” which is kind of like people pointing out, “Oh sure, but if we had a WHITE history month everyone would get upset…”
If you want people to take fatherhood seriously, don’t ask for a spit-shined trophy every time you, as a father, do all of the things you’re supposed to be doing already. If you want to normalize fatherhood, don’t make a massive production out of writing a lunch note, and if you want people to accept that men and women make equally good parents, don’t respond to a list of “things men can’t do” with a list of “things only men can do”.
Like my husband, who rakes in accolades at the playground just for showing up, the comment section on his list is full of “oh wow such brave” and “dawww good daddies”, which I suppose answers the question “What about the men?” after all.