Guest Post by wordssetmefreee
When I was a homemaker (when my kids were little), I was in this playgroup of 5 kids and their parents. 4 of them were moms and there was one dad. It was my first time meeting a full time stay-at-home dad. He was completely capable and handled tantrums, diaper leaks, eating disasters, and slushy mud puddles with ease and a great sense of humor. This was about 10 years ago.
Now I meet stay-at-home dads everywhere – in my neighborhood, at work, at my kids’ school, in my support group. Some of them work from home. Some of them run businesses from home. Others take care of their little kids and the house full time.
In the last post, Chaiwallah brought up the point about a man being discriminated for being a homemaker. I do not see this discrimination as something separate (men’s suffering versus women’s suffering in patriarchy) but as connected. The more we encourage gentleness and caring in boys, the more nurturing and helpful they will be at home when they become parents. Dads doing their fair share at home supports moms’ empowerment. If men are free of stereotypes, then women are free to make more choices. If men can choose to stay at home more, then women can choose to be more career focused (in families that prefer to have this division of labor). If both parents choose to work outside the home, then both can share the housework and childcare fairly without attaching gender labels to these duties.
Here’s a sampling of some recent ads about dads. Of course, for every one of these ads, there are a 1000 others that show women in traditional roles. In reality, (if we look at stats worldwide) men have a long way to go in terms of doing their fair share at home. But, look around you. Things are changing, little by little. The fact that businesses want to spend millions of dollars positioning their products around this cultural shift means that the shift is happening. It means we are beginning to lean toward the following notions:
- gentleness, warmth, and caring don’t make a man any less of a human being
- the ability to demonstrate emotions makes a human being stronger, not weaker
- dads are not clueless at home, they can be relied on to do their part at home and keep the family running smoothly, and they can multi-task as well as moms
- housework, cooking, and cleaning are not “inferior” jobs assigned to “less capable” people (read women), they are simply – jobs that need to get done -and every person (man or woman) has to learn to do them.
Swiffer Ad – dads cleaning the house, watching kids jumping in puddles. Dad complains, “no such thing as deep couch sitting” 🙂
Dove Ad –Dads kissing, hugging, playing with their children. Dads helping kids out of stuck shirts, cleaning them after toilet use, ready to help when they’re stuck on a road, when they’re afraid of water, when they have a bad dream, when they’re distressed.
Tide – Child napping with dad.
Cheerios – A funny ad about a capable, confident dad – it’s called “How to dad” 🙂
Extra gum Origami – Dad is there with daughter through all the stages of growing.
Johnson’s – Dads comfortable conveying their love through touch, caring for their babies, being delighted in them.
And here’s a dad who’s better at cleaning than mom – because cleaning is just like any other skill – it isn’t gender specific – some people are great at it, others not so great 🙂 Some people enjoy it, others don’t.
Watching these ads, I am reminded of my childhood. My father would practice volleyball with me to help me win the matches at school. The ball would keep going over the fence and he would quickly scale the fence and get it back in a jiffy. Bonus points for teaching me as well how to scale the fence 🙂 He was also a great cook and could make the best eggplant bhajjis. He would slice them so thinly and dip them in such light batter that they would just melt in the mouth.
Please share if you had fun experiences with your dads at home doing things that break stereotypes. Also, if you have seen other nice dad ads, please share.
Do you agree that things are changing in this regard? Or do you feel they are predominantly the same? What has been your experience with your father/husband/siblings/friends/coworkers? If you’re a guy, please add how you feel about all this. Do you want to change things? Do you want to be a different kind of dad from your own (assuming your own played a traditional father’s role)?