As I promised in my post earlier this week, today I’m tackling the mom-centric ads being broadcast during the Olympics.
These particular ads are from Procter & Gamble, and they celebrate the role of moms in the lives of aspiring and actual Olympic athletes. A lot of dads out there are outraged or at least a little annoyed at the way the ads focus on moms to the exclusion of fathers. Procter & Gamble isn’t the first brand to ignore or insult dads in advertising and they won’t be the last, just as this is neither the first nor the last time the online community of fathers has gotten excited about what they feel is a total disregard for the role they play in their kids lives.
To which I say: who cares?
Here is some info about the campaign that sparked the latest round of protests from the online Dad community.
I get it. I understand that it’s a little annoying for a good father’s role as a parent to be completely ignored. It’s not the ’50s anymore, when men went to work and women raised the kids. These days (I think it’s the ’90s or something by now but I can’t be sure – time stopped for me in college) things have changed. The odds are that either Mom or Dad even HAS a job are pretty slim. They’re most likely unemployed and living at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, doing their best to not kill each other, treading water until one of them finds a new job.
And yet despite all that, they’re both taking part in the parenting, and the old roles aren’t so easily defined anymore. That’s a good thing.
But – understandably – it’s taking some time to see this new paradigm, the new Millenium’s redefinition of parenting, represented in the media. When we do see it, it’s in the form of some insipid TV show or terrible movie. Advertising in particular seems to be running behind. And a lot of Dad bloggers are SICK OF IT! This strikes me as an extremely silly thing to be upset about.
Anyone looking to the advertising industry to lead the way in changing perceptions is looking in the wrong place. Most brands want to sell, and unless they’re blatantly going for attention, odds are they’re going to sell by focusing on the lowest common denominator; the easy stereotype; the safe play. And the safe play here is to market their products to moms.
Yes, Dads have a bigger role in parenting than they did in previous years (though I’m sure they are plenty of Dads from the ’90s, ’80s and ’70s who won’t take kindly to their role being discounted so generally), but we’re still a smaller piece of the pie. That’s just the way it is. The number of Stay At Home Dads has doubled since 2001…to make up 3.4% of all Stay At Home parents. (Obviously SAHDs aren’t the only dads who parent, I’m just sayin’.)
But again, the numbers aren’t the point. Many of my fellow dads feel slighted by advertising campaigns and the culture in general. I get it, but I think it’s silly. What do I care what Procter & Gamble thinks of my role as a parent? I don’t need their validation. So long as my son knows I’m there, and my wife gives me some goddamn credit for once, I’m all good. It just seems like a waste of time – like most of the Mommy Wars and Parenting Wars and etc. – to worry about that kind of stuff.
Sure, I guess it would be nice if P&G’s campaign about dads supporting their Olympian kids got more play – and one does exist – but whatever (I’ve already made my stance on my son’s Olympic dreams quite clear). The stereotype is that Mom takes care of the kids and Dad brings home the bacon, and even if in most homes it’s much more of a 50/50 split these days, the stereotype was pretty true for quite a while. And the last place we’re gonna see stereotypes end is in advertising.
It’s no skin off my back if you continue to write blog posts like this one, by the popular and respected Blogger Father, who led an uproar about Norelco’s “made for moms” advertising and actually effected some change. They got wind of his protest and changed it to “made for parents,” though they didn’t actually change much else in the language, which says the clippers are “made for women’s hands.” How rude. Not only do I clip their kids’ hair, my wife has enormous man-hands. So screw you, Norelco!
Gandhi said “Be the change you want to see in the world,” not “blog about the change you don’t see until Madison Avenue throws you a bone.” I’m glad Blogger Father actually got something done; I’m just not interested in joining the picket line.
I’m not gonna be the jerk that says something like: maybe you dads should spend less time railing against what advertisers think of you and more time parenting your kids, because that’s obnoxious and condescending and not what’s happening here. These are dedicated dads who are tired of getting short shrift in the good parent department. But if they merely keep up the good work, even if they don’t get the recognition they deserve, they can at least be secure in the fact that their kids will know that dads aren’t just window dressing, and they’ll grow up with a healthier perspective on the role of both parents in raising children.
But go ahead and keep writing your posts, I guess. I just won’t be reading them.
BECAUSE I’LL BE TOO BUSY RAISING MY SON. And also writing posts about why I hate him.