How Hard Is It To Be Inclusive Of Dads In Advertising And Questions About Parenting?

Yesterday I woke up to the story about Canadian tennis star Eugenie Bouchard and the embarrassing request by the on court interviewer to give a twirl to show off her outfit. All the media outlets were crying out “you wouldn’t ask a man to do this, so why ask a woman to do it?” And I agree.

Not long after that, in a local parenting group that I’m in on Facebook, a mother starts a new thread with an accompanying photo in the attempt to find out the cause of a sore on her 21 month old’s arm or leg.

“Hey mums, can you help me out…”

Looking at the photo it looked like an infected mosquito bite. Our own son has had a few this summer so I was well aware of what it could have been. So I thought I would give some advice. But, hey, I’m not a mum so… I put that aside and started writing a response. A mother got in before me and suggested it was a mozzie bite and I quickly wrote “^^^ Agreed” while I worked on a longer response. A solution. As I was typing another dad got in first with a brilliant response. He suggest the cause and effect and a remedy. He also suggested seeing a doctor as soon as they opened.

And then I pressed send and gave a way to soothe the child that we’ve been using on our son. I really wanted to help this mother out. Maybe I should have held my tongue, but seeing that the administrator of this parenting group actively made the move from calling it “(insert local area name) Mothers” to “(insert local area name) Parents” after inviting me and a few other dads in the group, and seeing that she notified the members that this was a group for all parents, not just mothers, I felt I had to say something. So I wrote a further comment;

“Also, it would be nice to be more inclusive of dads seeing that we’ve been helping out. It wouldn’t hurt if you edited this and removed the ‘Hey mums’ in your post”.

I had a lot of support, especially from other mothers liking that comment. And then a few hours later, after taking her child to the doctor, she let the group know what the result was. And then she added another comment directed at me.

“I don’t care about you Darrell, I only cared about my child.”

Or something like that. I read that reply and commented along the lines of;

“As a dad, so do I.”

Somewhere along the lines she created a shit-storm because of instead of noting that someone was offended by being excluded, she felt that an attack was a better reply than an apology. Apparently she was called out for her rudeness and not long after the whole thread was deleted. You wouldn’t exclude a mother from a parenting question, so why exclude dads? Surely just a “hey everyone” or the omission of a salutation for haste of getting your message out about a child in pain would be more appropriate in a parenting group.

With our son having his first year at school last year I noted that on the letters that came home, and at the assemblies and ceremonies we attended, the school used “Dear Parents, Guardians and Carers” at the beginning of every address; verbal or written. Sometimes it was “Mums, Dads, Guardians and Carers” as well, and while I am not suggesting that people in parenting groups use that opening to start a thread, I think that leaving it out completely would be better. You really don’t have to address a part of the group, just write your post and assume everyone and anyone might be able to contribute.

It’s the same with one of Australia’s biggest retailers. As we are just days away from our children starting back for the 2015 school year, all of the advertising by those chains of discount department stores are promoting the annual “Back to School” events and sales. And how does Big W decide to promote it this year? Like this…

I am sure you'll forgive me for not having a link to their website connected to this picture.
I am sure you’ll forgive me for not having a link to their website connected to this picture.

So I decided to send them a tweet on Twitter to voice my disapproval. Feel free to click on the tweet embedded below and retweet it. That would be great thanks.

Now I’m not calling for a boycott of Big W. As I said in my tweet, I shop there regularly and although I disapprove of this campaign singling out mums over dads, I’m sure that I will find myself in one of their stores getting whatever it is that I need and they have at a reasonable price. But do they really need to exclude dads in their advertising? Do they need to single out mums? Well it seems they do, and often as this snapshot of the front cover of last year’s Christmas toy sale catalogue shows;

Big W Toy Sales - Mums Only
Yes I have been keeping this snapshot since June 2014. I meant to write about it back then but assumed that they wouldn’t be so sexist again…

A well known media website that I visit daily currently has Big W as one of their sponsors with their “where mum shops” slogan emblazoned all over the page. On this website’s weekly Best and Worst post for this week I decided to give my worst thing of the week by having a spray at Big W. I was surprised they actually approved my comment, but happy that they did because once again, based on the number of up-votes (currently putting me as the most liked comment of the day I might add), I am getting support for my cause. And I’ve even had a couple of supportive comments in reply to my comment. I wrote;

“Worst: Was disappointed with Big W’s advertising campaign “where mum shops.” As a dad who regularly shops at Big W, especially for things for my kids, I wonder why dads are excluded from their marketing. It’s not the first time. Late last year they shipped out their Christmas toy catalogue with a big “hands off mums, kids open first” on it. Now I’m not going to suggest that “no one knows kids toys quite like a dad does” because I’m not about to argue against sexism with further sexism, but I can tell you that all my mates know about which toys their kids like and also spend hours playing on the floor with them. Time to pick up your game Big W. And people question why some dads are happy just to let mums do all the parenting.”

And that is the crux of it. If society keeps telling dads that parenting is mum’s domain, and if they keep telling us that shopping for things for your children is mum’s duty, why on earth would dads bother helping out? And not just assisting mum, but picking up the ball and running with it? And when the time comes to do take on the next job that benefits the kids, are dads really going to be proactive when advertising and society keep telling them to sit back, grab a beer, stick on the football and let mum deal with that shit?

Well, not surprisingly, yes there are many dads that are bucking the trend. But there are many more that won’t because they aren’t being included, or they aren’t being marketed to which allows them to have an “out”.

I know that I have mentioned these blogs before when discussing dads in advertising, but I am happy to give these guys a plug as often as possible. Check out 8BitDad’s Dadvertising section by clicking here, and you can go all Routly (a term us Dad Bloggers use to honour Chris Routly, the champion of our “positive image of dads in advertising” efforts) by checking out his website Daddy Doctrines by clicking here. That link will take you to a story about excluding dads in a major advertising campaign in the US. You can check out more of his stories about “dumb dads in advertising” and similar stories by checking out his popular post section. All of his stories about dads in advertising are high up on that list.

What do you think? Am I making a mountain out of a mole hill? Do you think I have a point? Do you think if dads are included in more parenting things then there would be more proactive dads? Do you think that it would be so hard to include dads in advertising and in parenting groups?

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