The internet-based retailer Amazon.com is putting a lot of pressure on moms.
For my local readers, please note that I’m going with the US spelling of mums because what I am discussing here is a brand name. That brand is Amazon Mom. But don’t be distracted by the Americanised spelling; you’ll note that I used the Anglicised spelling of the “Americanised” so you know I’m not jumping ship and going all ‘Murican on you. Even though currently the Australia arm of Amazon is just an online book retailer, you can bet that just as Aldi and Costco have hit our shores, Amazon will soon expand their services as they’ve done in the rest of the world and we could very well see Amazon Mum Australia online.
Although it’s only been two days into the campaign started by the Dad Bloggers group in support of the late Oren Miller’s fight to get Amazon Mom changed to Amazon Family, seeing that the hashtag #AmazonFamilyUS has been trending on Twitter and other forms of social media, it has been picked up by some big name media outlets and some of the biggest blog sites and parenting site including;
- The Huffington Post,
- Geek Wire,
- Silicon Republic,
- CBS affiliate station WNEM,
- Market Watch,
- Dad 2.0 Summit,
- Today (USA),
- ABC (USA) affiliate station News Net 5,
- Seattle’s Kiro TV,
- Take Part,
- and we are told, CNN has a story about this under way.
I don’t expect the media outlets and parenting sites to pick it up in Australia, but maybe, once this battle has been won, we can focus on getting all of those other online retailers and traditional (bricks and mortar) retailers, parenting websites, product review websites and any other organisation who think that the words “mom, mum or mother” are the best substitute for the word parent.
As for those organisations that market to parents, I must include the parenting website BabyCenter. BabyCenter has come on board in spreading the word about this campaign – and I thank them for doing so – but they have done so under the category of Mom Stories. Now I’m not going to suggest that mothers can’t have their own private corner of the internet in which they can can discuss everything mum related just as I wrote in my Five Reasons Why Mothers Need a Secret Mums Club from this time last year, but when you call your organisation BabyCenter and you have products that appeal to parents no matter their gender, and you publish stories and advice that fathers will love to read too, and you also have fathers amongst your team of writers, you really should reconsider the naming of that category.
Here in Australia we have a popular website called Product Review which boasts 4 million visitors per month, 9 million page views per month, 290,000 members and 380,000 reviews. I use this website myself to check out reviews on products that I wish to purchase and have made some really good purchases based on the recommendations of the members. But I have to say that when I went to read the reviews on baby products back when I first became a father, I was really miffed as to why they called the section for parents Mother & Baby.
Let’s look at the sub-categories under the Mother & Baby category; Prams – Toys & Games – Baby Formula – Baby Car Seats – Baby Nappies – Baby Monitors – Baby Carriers – Booster Car Seats – Breast Pumps – High Chairs – Cots – Baby Capsules. I don’t know about you, but there’s really only one of those items that I would suggest qualifies as a mother only item. This graphic I made from a snap shot of their menu page might help you work out which item I’m talking about.
Many of my fellow Dad Bloggers who started this campaign have already gotten their own posts about this out at the very beginning. And I have tried to read as many of their takes on this as possible. Some have covered things that I was going to say which is why I held back and decided to take a different path so that we weren’t all doubling up. Besides, although I love helping out my northern hemisphere neighbours, I do like to add those local Australian elements to my own argument.
The one who said almost word for word what I wanted to say – just with that weird spelling of mom in his post – Chris Routly from Daddy Doctrines (yes I know I link him all the time) wrote;
“Look, we all know this program isn’t just for moms. It really never has been, short of mishandled emails addressing anyone who signed up for it as a “busy mom” and making lots of yoga references. It’s always been open to dads and other caregivers who might use the program. So why the big deal?
Because what we call things matters. Words matter. Continuing to treat “mom” as a synonym for “caregiving parent” ignores the blood-sweat-and-tears in the day-to-day hands-on work of parenting being done by non-moms. And more importantly, it props up the notion that this work properly belongs on a mom’s shoulders, not to be shared with a partner. This isn’t a “dad vs. mom” issue, it’s a family issue. This isn’t about being “offended,” it’s about seeking positive change.”
You see, I got it from day one. I got the message about the changing face of the family. I got the memo that said families can be made up of two mums, families could be made up of two dads and families could be made up of just one of each. Yes, there are plenty of single dads out there that are doing this on their own as I wrote about in the ironically titled What Happened to His Father? And you know what else I got the memo about? I got the memo that said fathers that are part of what many politicians, religious people and those who are too PC for their own good call the “traditional family unit” can be active in their kids lives. And not just playing video games with them. And not just taking them to weekend sport. But dads can be there from the get-go.
My own father wasn’t allowed in the room when my mother gave birth to me. I was born in a hospital that was run by Catholic Sisters acting as nurses, so men weren’t allowed anywhere near the nether regions of a birthing mother. Well, unless that man went by the first name of Doctor. But I was there through the whole journey. Sure I got a couple of weeks off between the “damn that was great sex, now I’m rolling over to go to sleep” and the morning a few weeks later that I woke up to here my (then) girlfriend say “I think I’m pregnant.” But once that was confirmed it was all actions go.
I read some of the books. It was me who bought ALL of the parenting magazines aimed at those who were expecting through to those with new babies and then onto the toddlers years. I even regularly bought the magazine titled Mother & Baby much to my displeasure of said title. But the information inside was great, and I expect more fathers or expectant fathers might pick up a copy if they weren’t scared off by the magazine’s title. I even followed and interacted with their Facebook page and had one of my comments that I left on that page end up being published in their August/September 2011 issue. When asked what we love doing with our babies, I wrote;
Yeah, dads are part of this parenting and family thing. My first ever post which was written before I became a Dad Blogger, or even before I starting blogging altogether was the aptly titled Dads Are Parents Too I wrote for a parenting website. But this isn’t just about dads, just as Chris Routly said. As I wrote on Twitter when I joined in on this campaign;
— Modern Father Online (@mfo_dad_blog) March 4, 2015
Because when the focus is solely on the woman being the traditional care taker in the family, you give dads the easy way out and you put a lot of the expectations on the mother to do
I know I used this same quote from Oren Miller’s blog, A Blogger and a Father when I wrote about him just after he died, but as it was him who started this fight against Amazon, I feel that I really need to use this quote again;
“Society is slowly getting there, and although many stay-at-home dads and work-outside-the-home moms may not be comfortable with the Feminist label, they are working toward the feminist ideals of gender equality and of disproving the idea that conventional division of labor is the only natural way for parents to live.“
So come on Amazon. Lift your game. Change your parenting programme’s name to Amazon Family like it’s called in the rest of the world. And for those other organisations I included in my story, please consider changing the name of the category that currently excludes dads or other primary care givers who would love to be included. And if you start up this brand in my country, make sure it is a Amazon Family Australia from day one.