So Wired Magazine comes out with a cover featuring Geek Dads, those kooky, awesome dudes who like to build robots with the kids or touch up the weekend submersible for the Maker Faire, and suddenly all the womens are up in tattooed arms.
"What about moms?" they protest, "Moms can be geeks, too!"
This is what dads feel like pretty much all the time, every day — at least when it comes to the world of parenting media. In that world, if you don't have a vagina, you don't exist.
As former Rebel Dad-turned-Forbes columnist Brian Reid points out, Parenting.com lists a moms section on its header, but doesn't bother with dads. Parents Magazine has a MomBuzz section but no dads. (To be fair, Parents plays to geeks of all genders just right, calling Leticia Barr's great blog simply Tech Savvy Parents — was that so difficult? Still, I'd call it an anomaly when it comes to parent-neutral labels.)
Heck, the parenting website I work for, Babble.com, has gone out of its way and above and beyond to include tons of dad voices, and yet every page features a little tag at the bottom saying the site is part of the Disney "Moms and Family Portfolio." Why not just Family Portfolio?
But baby steps, Dr. Leo Marvin. Baby steps.
In the end, dustups like these and the conversations they create help edge us ever closer to a world in which the media finally realizes it's not so easy to genderhole its readers: Dads only care about building cool shit. Moms only care about placenta recipes.
Take Huggies, for instance. The diaper company recently came under massive fire from dads for its portrayal of dads as doofuses (is this not also insulting to moms, who somehow decided to shack up with these helpless he douches?), saying it was putting the diapers to the "dad test," and then apparently dropping the baby in the Thunderdome of Paternal Neglect. But after a barrage of criticism, the company quickly changed direction with future ads and then just recently came out with a freaking fantastic ad featuring David Koechner, who played sportscaster Champ Kind in Anchorman.
Then there's Volkswagen, which created probably the best dads in ads spot ever with its one-minute cry-a-thon love song to dads and daughters — a commercial that will make you openly weep but also one that appears to be made for the European audience. I'd love to see it in prime time here.
For the most part, yes, involved dads who care about co-parenting or at the very least don't consider time with their own freaking kids as "babysitting" still take the back seat in the parenting media culture, despite heroic efforts by some dads trying to change that. But I'm wondering if Wired, in pissing off the moms, will finally level the field for all.
Image via Marine's/Shutterstock.
Mike Adamick writes at Babble.com and his own site, Cry It Out!