I wrote this piece for iVillage Australia a month ago and you can read the edited version here…
No doubt if you’ve been following social media in the last week you’ve seen the photo of Doyin Richards (a.k.a. Daddy Doin’ Work). His blog has featured on many of the top news aggregator and social content sites. If you haven’t seen it, here it is…
If you’ve read his blog post about the storm that followed this photo going viral you’d know that he had some rather abusive comments made about him. As I read some of them I thought; ”you know, most of these are playing the racist card” but he already addressed that further down the page so I don’t need to go there.
I follow many Facebook pages connected with Dad Bloggers; Daddy Doin’ Work’s Facebook page currently has 77,825 followers which puts him second behind Single Dad Laughing’s Facebook page which has just over 270K followers (both American), with a very impressive 46,781 people following Fodder 4 Fathers out of Canada. In addition to these, I follow over 100 other Dad Bloggers’ Facebook pages from Australia and all around the world. In addition to those, there’s a further 460 or more Dad Bloggers that I know of around the world, many of whom do not use social media to promote their websites.
I bring this up to highlight that there are many of us dads out there that are writing blogs about being a dad and for the most part these are more than just online diaries documenting milestones in our children’s lives, but many of us are pushing the proactive dad agenda.
When you put yourself out there, just as Doyin Richards has, it is inevitable that you are going to get negative comments by trolls and haters. That’s the first thing they teach you in Blogger School*; be thick skinned or get out. (*Blogger School may or may not actually exist). I know on my own site I have had negative comments about my own opinions on parenting and as a frequent reader and commenter on sites like iVillage Australia and the associated site Mamamia, many of my comments are met with negativity. Many are given the thumbs up too I’m pleased to add.
Just yesterday the comment “adding your hateful agenda to the mix” was included in a reply to one of my comments. Do I have an agenda? Yes, and I wrote an article back in July 2013 about how all good Dad Bloggers do have an agenda). Is it hateful? No, not by any means, but I can see why we get under people’s skins; and by people, I mostly mean “mothers,” but we can piss off other fathers at times too, especially those who Doyin pointed out claim that we are making them look bad. Pffft.
The Daddy Doin’ Work blog is rife with agenda, and for the most part, his motives are the same as my own. All he and I and the other 560 Dad Bloggers I currently know (I can give you all their names if you wish me to) are trying to promote is that suitable prefixes to the words “dad” and “father” should be more than just “dead-beat” and “absent” respectively, but “proactive,” “awesome,” and “world’s best…” without the latter being an insincere slogan on a coffee mug you buy for your dad because you couldn’t be bothered thinking about what he’d really like or deserve.
“Stay At Home” is another prefix that should go in front of “dad” without it having stigma attached. I’m not one myself but would really love to be if given the opportunity (I currently am the major bread winner, not to do with anything other than the type of work we each do; there’s no glass ceiling my wife is trying to break through in her line of work). But that’s for another time.
I read comments from people who believe that it’s possible that Doyin may have set this up and that someone might be taking this photo (the youngest is after all looking over towards someone, don’t you think?) Now I will be honest with you, when I saw the photo I thought that too. So what? That’s not the point. What Doyin is doin’ (sic) by sharing photos like this, by blogging about being a proactive father, and by taking the time off work to spend with his kids and telling the world about it is a good thing. No wait; A. Great. Thing.
It’s not like he’s trying to deceive. This photo, whether set up or not is highlighting that dads CAN multitask just as good as mothers. He’s a far cry from being the next Fairlie Arrow (remember the woman who faked her own kidnapping in 1991 to become famous?) or Helen Demidenko (she won the The Australian/Vogel Literary Award for her novel The Hand That Signed the Paper which was later revealed to be a literary hoax).
The fact that Mr Richards is a black man who is borrowing the “I have a dream” preamble throughout his blog post is not a big deal, and I’m sure would be welcomed by the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr. And I hope that Dr King pardons me for being middle-class and white and borrowing it too but…
I have a dream that one day there will be no need for Dad Bloggers with agendas. I have a dream that we aren’t made to feel unwanted in parent’s rooms in shopping centres. I have a dream that marketing companies don’t just advertise with slogans such as “because mums know best…” and that “this healthy snack for kids has ingredients approved by mothers” when many dads like me do their equal share of the grocery shopping.
The dream of many proactive dads is much like those that many women are fighting for; equality. We WANT you to get equal pay so more of us can choose to be stay at home dads. We NEED you to get equal pay so that when times are tough, when companies lay off workers, suicide doesn’t become the solution for a father who thinks he’s failed his family.
Until then, all we can do is dream…