Editor’s Note: It’s not always easy, but I like to get NYC Dads Group member and The Angry SAHD, Josh Kross, to comment on the particularly egregious noise in the world of fatherhood and parenting. Enjoy this guest as he slams another dad blogger that doesn’t get it.
Here we go again. Just when I thought we’d started to really turn the corner and recognize that any parent, male or female, can be great at any aspect of parenting, a “daddy blogger” goes in again for the easy “bad daddy” jokes about why women are better. The last time I got pissed off about this, it led to a lot of great discussion, and I hope some attitudes even changed.
Here’s the thing: whenever someone goes and makes sweeping generalizations about EITHER gender, it does all parents a disservice. We wind up with society thinking women HAVE to be the parents because all men are boorish dirty idiots without the brain power or focus necessitated for child rearing. That dads are just not as good as moms at doing the day in and out of child care.
Each time someone writes that women are better at X, or men are bad at Y, it reinforces the idea that it’s ok to just accept incompetence.
Which brings me to THEYCALLMECODY’s post on Babble from last week, “Top 10 Things Mothers do Better than Fathers.” Ok, I get it was a pre-Mother’s Day fluff piece. I get that the title is to catch eyeballs. Really, had he entitled it “10 things my wife is better than me at” it would be almost reasonable. However, reinforcing stupid stereotypes is, well, stupid. Here’s his list, succinctly.
3. Changing diapers
4. Preparing healthy food
5. Keeping Kids Clean
8. Going Out and About
9. Expressing Emotion
10. Making sick kids feel better
For starters, it is at least encouraging that he was so strapped for 10 items, that he actually repeated some, as 1 and 6, 2 and 10, 3 and 5, and 4 and 7 are essentially the same things. That said, let’s look at these a little closer.
First let’s take those that are just straight up BS, 1,2,3,4,6,7, and 10. Unless breasts are a requirement for a good hug or touch, there is literally nothing that inherently makes a woman a better hugger or snuggler. He uses anecdotal examples that are effectively meaningless. Maybe he’s just crappy to hug. Sick or injured kids can be completely cared for by a dad. My wife passes out at the sight of blood. Does that make her less of a mom? Does the fact that I don’t get all emotional, but calmly clean up the child and treat them while soothing them make me less of a man? Really, if you are a guy and still saying “rub some dirt on it,” you are a douchebag, not a dad.
Changing diapers is something I pride myself in. Recently, at a family event, I changed a foul diaper one handed while carrying on a conversation with several other people. I wasn’t even looking at the butt. All the women in the room clapped when I was done. I even got to flex. But it was just changing a diaper. I got credit because I was expected to be bad at it, and I wasn’t. Nice for me, but maybe those expectations should change. As for cooking, I find it stunning that given the proliferation of celebrity chefs of both gender, anyone could make an argument for gender basis of culinary skills. That’s just dumb. There are a lot of guys who can’t cook. There are a lot of women who can’t cook. Maybe Cody is just one of them.
This guy is clearly an adult version of Pigpen. In the section on keeping kids clean, he writes, “I’m pretty sure I have mentioned that I once forgot to have the eldest daughter bathe for an entire week while Casey was gone recently.” Really? Hope you are kidding or you’re going to wind up with a visit from child services if she ever goes away for two weeks. This section is more than just reinforcing gender stereotypes though. It’s parenting philosophy. I WANT my kids dirty. I want them to go out and get filthy. I will, without a doubt, clean them up afterwards, but the experience of learning what makes messes is all part of being a child. As an added bonus, he throws in the “boys are just dirty as kids” line. I have a 7 year old that begs to differ.
His going out and about section reinforces for me that he’s either so incompetent that we should be applauding him for managing to tie his shoes, or that he’s disorganized because his wife covers for him. “I don’t know how many times I have taken the kids to the store only to realize I forgot the diaper bag or that I had forgotten to pack the diaper bag.” His penis didn’t forget to bring it, his laziness did. I guarantee that if his wife rode him a bit about it, he’d start to make it part of his routine.
Finally, he’s all anecdotal about how robotic he is emotionally, while his wife is great at it. Maybe his father was distant. Maybe he just buys in to the idea that showing emotion makes you a “wuss.” Maybe he’s Mitt Romney (I keed, I keed). As a dad, you need to show your kids how you feel to teach them it’s ok to feel and set an example of how to express those feelings positively.
This guy is probably a fine parent, exaggerating for comedic effect. That said, if you or your partner is a bad parent, that’s on you. Anyone who tolerates their partner’s crappiness at parenting is also a crappy parent. This isn’t the 50s anymore and child-rearing is a shared responsibility. If you allow your partner to get away with being bad, you’re also short-changing your child. Straight or gay, modern parenting is about creating a balance where both of you work to use your strengths. Defining those strengths explicitly along gender lines is clearly just stupid.
In some ways, gay couples have an advantage. Since there are two members of one gender, they inherently have to go and define their roles explicitly. Discussing what strengths and weakness they have, and decide what’s best for the child, free from the slots people try to put us in. Heterosexual couples have implicit roles, enforced by silly ideas as presented in this article, that actually does the children and their relationship a disservice.
Josh Kross is an at home dad to his three kids. When not putting his MBA in operations management to use making sure his kids get where they need to be, he is the Upper West Side event coordinator for the NYC Dads Group. Follow his blog, The Angry SAHD.
Mark Greene says
Well said, Josh. The fact is, our culture is shifting its view of men and primary parenting. We are wonderful at caring for children and we have done the full time parenting that proves it over and over. So, enough of the “men don’t know how to hug bullshit.” Really. Enough.
Well said indeed. This guy’s views are not shared by all the Dadding writers. Great article.
moosh in indy. says
I left this same comment on another post about my husband’s post and I’ll leave it here as well…Cody has written posts about supporting women through postpartum depression (http://blogs.babble.com/dadding/2012/04/13/supporting-a-mother-who-suffers-from-postpartum-depression/), breastfeeding, supporting a mother who is failing at breastfeeding http://blogs.babble.com/dadding/2012/04/09/supporting-a-wife-who-has-milk-duds/, the importance of child support and the importance of pain in a child’s life…yet no one, not a single one of these outspoken “stand up for what’s right” dads has mentioned anything, commended or commented on any of those posts.
No one’s really noticed what he excels at, I guess no one really cares. I can only assume that his posts about being a good dad and supporting his wife and children are pretty boring and not worthy of much press.
“Enjoy as he slams another dad blogger who doesn’t get it?”
Super supportive there NYC Dads Group. SUPER.
moosh in indy. says
He made a mistake with the title, not sure if that means anything coming from me, but I can fully admit to that. Just like when I titled a post “Why my Daughter Will Never Wear a Bikini” rather than “Why I Will not be Buying my Seven Year Old Daughter a String Bikini While She Lives in Under My Roof.” He’s new to this whole blogging thing, and yes, it’s great that you have an established and connected dad blogging community, and while I understand how the title is a sweeping generalization and offensive to many dads, it’s disheartening to see so many fathers turn so quickly to literally attack and destroy someone who isn’t in your connected crowd who titled a post wrong.
I’m sure he’ll take it on in his own way but I’m honestly surprised at how vicious dads can be to one another.
@moosh While Chris VanDijk pretty much covered my thoughts while I was writing this, I would like to point out that the fact that he’s so on his game in general and that he had a large voice in general is what was so disappointing. Hyperbole is great but when those who have the podium for gender equality use it wrong, we have to call them on it.
If he was consistently a misogynist or had no audience, there’d be no reason to react, as these kind of posts would go on unnoticed.
Using misandry (and certainly misogyny as well)for comedy have no place in a forward looking discourse about parenting.
moosh in indy. says
@Matt, I believe in supporting capable, caring and confident dads. However it also seems as though you’re perfectly okay with destroying ones who make a mistake. I have no control over what he writes, just as he has no control over what I write. I have my boundaries in place as far as what is acceptable to write about and he is still figuring his out. I’m not sure what’s going to happen, I know I’m much more bothered by it than he is as this online community has gotten me through so much. Now people I know (who are unaware that it’s my husband who wrote the article) are saying how sorry they feel for the woman (me) for reproducing with such an idiot.
It’s so easy to sling mud, anger and words online and all of the name calling that is going on is happening to MY husband, the man who has single handedly kept me alive and stuck by my side through some of the worst moments of my life and it has been well documented. Our girls are going to grow up being loved fiercely by a good man and a good dad.
I would just ask that as you “discuss” this, keep in mind that this is a real person, a real husband, a real father, that is human and made a mistake that you are talking about. Not some nameless, faceless jerk with a wordpress account who deserves your hate and full force attacks.
Chris VanDijk says
Moosh, I have read your husband’s posts. I especially loved the enlightened one a few days ago about the ridiculous controversy of the Time cover, but lowering it to a “mommy war” missed the point entirely. Also entertaining was the post on why you spank. It seems we grew up with very similar upbringing, your husband and I. My mother never apologized after the spankings, but some twenty years later, she sat me down and, in tears, had that discussion with me and it became clear that spanking is hitting.
If you want to know why it seems the entire connected dad blogging world is upset, it’s this: most of us do not have a national audience. We certainly would not use it to propagate ignorance and sexism. ThIs one post is so out of touch with the reality of our experiences, we have to question why Babble would publish it in the first place. I’m a stay at home Dad and not only did I find this offensive, my wife found it demeaning to her as a woman. I won’t even go into the responses on facebook or twitter – from both genders. These gender assumptions ended decades ago. That’s why the entire dad blogging community is up in arms,
This has nothing to do with you husband’s previous posts.
Chris VanDijk says
By the way, super supportive of your husband to completely negate what we, as fellow dads, do. Can’t really accuse us of not being supportive when we’re defending engaged fathers from that shallow post on how inadequate we are… Especially when it’s based on assumptions that are patently false.
Matt Schneider says
@moosh, I’ve read your comments supporting your husband on other sites, and I admire that you are supporting him. I understand the pressure for pageviews and as I’m sure you both know, controversy seems to get you noticed, and keeping the controversy alive does as well. Cody’s post seems like it was written with the intention of increasing pageviews rather than to reflect the experience that he is having as the supportive partner and engaged dad that you describe.
I’m not sure whether you are familiar with our group or this blog, but we are built around supporting capable, caring, and confident dads. We do celebrate other mom and dad bloggers who are working towards that same goal and would be happy to support you and your husband when you write something that moves the conversation in a positive direction. We’re also built around calling out experts, writers, advertisers, and others that we think are inaccurately reflecting the fathers that we are and hope to be. Cody’s article missed the mark, and rather than being defensive, perhaps the two of you could reflect on how you can share what sounds like a great parenting partnership in a way that gets you the pageviews you are looking for.
@moosh – I appreciate that he is your husband and this is much more personal for you. I realize he didn’t call me by name, but you need to realize when he says these are things that mothers do better than fathers, he is also talking about real people.
I too wrote a response to the article. But the focus of my post was on the responses on Babble’s Facebook page. I don’t know if you have looked at them, but there is a lot of dad bashing going on over there. Purposefully or not this was brought on by the language of your husbands post.
Now if it was a mistake then it seems to me an easy fix. He could easily said, I made a mistake in my language, changed the title to “10 Things My Wife Does Better Than Me” and I think it would have stopped. We all make mistakes. I am not on Babble or a regular blogger, but I have done enough that I have taken a post down when I realized from a couple of comments it was not coming across as I had hoped.
It is true that the controversial post get the attention. I think that is why some people wonder if this wasn’t a mistake but a way to gain page views. If your husband says it was a mistake and was not just stirring up controversy for page views I am happy to believe him. But if that is the case may I suggest he comes directly out and says that.
I am not associated with NYC Dads but I do know a couple of them personally through The National At-Home Dad Network. I help of the Facebook and Twitter for the organization and we regularly post positive stories about dads. Most are about At-Home Dads, but if you husband has things that appeal to dads in general I am happy to share those. You can email me at email@example.com.
I wish you and your husband nothing but the best and I hope you understand while people were upset with the tone of your husband’s post.
Matt Schneider says
I’m not going to try to defend all the commenters on the Internet . . . I imagine the supportive community you’ve found has been built over time with a group narrower than the general public. The response is not from Cody’s supportive group of friends that know he isn’t really like that, the response is from THEYCALLMECODY’s readers that don’t know a damn thing about him other than what he shares in this piece.
I don’t think anything that Josh says in his post “destroys” THEYCALLMECODY. The problem I’m having is that Babble has posted his article as a general statement on moms and dads rather than a story of how the two of you manage your home and family. His stories and anecdotes are held up to represent how father are, and the intelligent backlash that I’ve seen is saying no, that’s not how we are and he isn’t representing us.
As I indicated in a previous comment, we’re happy to celebrate someone (individual or corporation) that sees his mistake and rectifies it. I look forward to seeing THEYCALLMECODY’s response, but would rather see Cody’s.
Chris VanDijk says
I do want to say, Miss Moosh, there are a couple thing that bug me here. If your husband is new to blogging, that’s fine, but all of us know the importance of proofreading and while your defense of a mistake in the titling of his post has a little merit, it’s a straw-man to the actual issue: the post is about exactly what the title says. It is this broad, sweeping generalization with which we take umbrage.
To counter what you perceive as an ad hominem attack on him as a person (which I don’t think we’re doing) with an ad hominem attack on us as a group as somehow unsupportive of him, specifically BECAUSE he wrote this rather offensive article, is asking a little much. (” it’s disheartening to see so many fathers turn so quickly to literally attack and destroy someone who isn’t in your connected crowd who titled a post wrong.”) This has nothing to do with our connected crowd. We have not attacked him nor tried to destroy him. We’re saying his BLOG POST was simplistic and patently false. We’re not saying anything about him. I’m sure you’ve made it personal because he’s your husband. Please believe me when I say, we have no ill will against him. His post has upset many dads (in and out of our “community”) and this is what we’re pointing out. (sorry for the all caps… there is no way to italicize for emphasis… Not yelling. Promise.)
The appeal to our emotions is sweet, but, again, we’re not disputing the love and strength of your relationship. We’re talking about one post that, because he, as a new blogger under one of the largest parenting blog sites in the world, is irresponsible in it’s content. Our “established and connected dad blogging community” is really just a group that lives and meets here in New York. We all just so happen to write and sometimes share each other’s work. Most of us do not make any money from our blogs and we do not have the reach or influence that your rookie-blogger husband has as part of Babble. To that end, there is a responsibility to write responsibly. (That includes double checking headlines and proofreading for tone.)
Finally, the tu quoquo – pointing the finger back at us. Matt said it best when he relayed that we want to support stories that highlight supportive, engaged fathers. Conversely, we make it a point to address anything that demeans our role in any way. Your husband’s post does that. Rather than attack us as vicious, perhaps it’s best to look inward and see what it is that’s caused all of these fathers to be upset. Rather than jump on every blog that has taken your husband’s post to task, the best course of action might be to look at why the reaction was so immediate and direct. When THEYCALLMECODY uploads another post that displays the kind of supportive, engaged husband and father you have described, and I’ve seen in previous posts, I’m sure all of us will happily repost, share and retweet it, as we do with great posts every day.
Best to you and your family.
Amen, amen, amen and amen.
I should add that I think the Facebook comments pretty much are indicative of why people get upset.
As a feminist blogger I can wholeheartedly agree that the “Dad’s are incompetent” narrative is incredibly harmful to men, women, and children. This sort of thing totally pisses off my husband, and he’s greatly disappointed when he meets the guy who thinks it’s somehow cool to pretend that you don’t know how to father a child. Add to that, he also HATES listening to dads complain about how “gross” it was to see their baby come out of a vagina. He tells me every day that he’s endlessly impressed by what my lady parts can do. They’re fun, they make humans, then they go right back to being fun again. He’s in awe. I love that about him, and I’m glad to hear that there seem to be some more dads in the world who call out the ridiculous sexist status quo when they see it.
Chris VanDijk says
this was an awesome reply.
Beta Dad says
Zach Rosenberg says
Gay couples only have an advantage if it’s two mothers, because clearly, having two dads is like having two idiots instead of just one.
Bryan Grossbauer says
Nice response, Josh. Pretty much everything that should be said has been said. I just wanted to show some support.
Now if we can just get these women out of the office, I can get back to work and stop doing a bad job changing diapers…:)
Matt Schneider says
I’ll also add that though the response to from the “dad community” may seem harsh, I’ve found the group to be forgiving when the recipient of the criticism recognizes the mistake and does better next time. Huggies, for example, is now being celebrated by many of us who were critical of their first dad campaign. They listened to the criticism and have put together a much more compelling campaign.
Daddy's in Charge? says
Let’s get over the parent wars please. I am so sick of this back and forth bull shit about what moms and dads do. Truth is, there are some things that moms do better than us. And there are things that we do better. Awesome. Can we just leave it at that and not get upset every time so idiot writes something to inflame these “wars” we have going on now. We know what the hell we can do. Why do we really care what everyone thinks. Just be the parent you want to be and stop worrying about whether or not we can be the parent mom is. Be a freaking dad and that’s it.
When my husband sent me the Babble post, I kept inserting the words mom or woman instead. If someone had written that, wouldn’t there be an outcry? “How sexist!”, we would say. How demeaning, and reductive, and narrow minded. And few would say we were “vicious” for calling it for what it is–a sad attempt at gaining page views by being controversial at the expense of an army of men who spend each day expertly wiping butts (with one wet wipe to my OCD ridden 5,) feeding and dressing, entertaining, teaching, and comforting our children every day.
I certainly hope, as you claim, that the title was a mistake, and sentences like “Mothers are just better at some things than fathers.” and “Since Mother’s Day is this weekend, what better way to honor mothers than listing what they do better than us fathers.” or “mothers are definitely better huggers than fathers.” or “What can I say, I’d rather hug a mother than a father too.” or “I still haven’t met another father who has been able to change a diaper with less than two wipes.” or “mothers are definitely better at keeping kids cleaner than fathers.” must of course also be typos.
I look forward to the corrections and apology that I’m sure are imminent. I haven’t seen them yet on the post, but any day now, I’m sure. In the meantime, for future posts, hire a proofreader who isn’t off the set of Mad Men. Better yet, talk to strong fathers like my husband who prove every day that they are not only just as good at parenting, but add their own unique strengths and qualities to raising their children.
And think before you use the power of your words to insult, to malign, and to harm men whose hugs are never quality checked by their children, but merely accepted and treasured.
Oh, and here is the “clarification,” complete with I didn’t mean it, woe is me the internet is picking on me and a non-apology apology.
I was going to hide under a sheet and make a “Leave Cody ALOOONE” video, I decided to write 500 words instead
This intense uproar is over the top, people. Hug it out.
Can’t we all just get along? Or at least ignore each other?
The only people “parenting wars” or “mommy/daddy blogger wars” that exist are the ones we create and indulge in ourselves.
I wrote a post about this, spurred on by the Time cover controversy, yesterday: http://goo.gl/Liz6r
It’s all just insecurity; who cares what everyone else thinks/does? Just do you.
Right, I followed the Huggies thing, and that’s good and all, but I kind of feel like the perception is of less concern than the reality.
Obviously there are a lot of dads doing things these days that moms are traditionally more well-known for. The world is changing, and has been for a long time, and anyone that dismisses the abilities of dads to be equally as effective parents as moms is at best behind the times and at worst ignorant. So I don’t really take offense to the persisting stereotypes about moms v dads and all that, because a) the stereotypes are founded in reality – an outdated, rapidly fading reality, but a longstanding one just the same and b) I know plenty of great dads, like myself!, who consider parenting a joint effort and a team thing.
In the United States some of the mom-dominated stereotypes are even harder to overcome due to a combination of a still evident macho culture and the pure fact that our work culture and healthcare are behind the times in terms of things like paternity leave and all that. Centuries of thinking are not easily overcome, which, I suppose is understood by these group, being that its your goal to change viewpoints. Which I respect.
I just thing the overall perception is changing, the tide is turning, it’s inevitable, it just takes time. But it’s our actions that will effect the change, not our blog posts. And fighting amongst ourselves is not exactly productive.
Matt Schneider says
Thanks for the response. I see what you are saying, but one of the goals of our group is to open up the definition of fatherhood. If we continue to ignore bloggers, writers, journalists, TV producers, etc. that are portraying dads as generally incapable of caring for our own children, then we lose the opportunity to create change. A perfect example is the situation with Huggies . . . the “dad blogger community” could have ignored the ads, but we instead voiced our opinion, which led to productive meetings with Unilever executives, their advertising creative team, and their PR team. This led, in my opinion, to a better campaign that is both effective in selling diapers, and an accurate representation of the dads we are and the standard to which we hope other dads will be held.
Matt Schneider says
Not to get all meta, but I think too much is being made of this supposed fight. A blogger put up a post with a title that improved his chances of getting pageviews. Men and women, mothers and fathers, gave their opinion. As is always the case when you open yourself up to public judgement, some of the feedback was productive, some of it was not. THEYCALLMECODY seems just fine and one way or another he learned from the experience.
To most of your other points I agree, but I think we have an opportunity to push change a little faster if we push the right buttons. THEYCALLMECODY has a forum on Babble to say something productive or not. We use this forum to start a conversation that may or may not go anywhere. We’ve written about work-life, and those posts have resulted in direct conversations with individuals, families, and companies around changing the design of family and the workplace. We’ve written about advertising and again, those started conversations that might influence future content creation. I don’t mean to boast about what we are doing here, but we, and especially the collective we of the “dad blogging community” have an opportunity to make change happen faster. And I, for one, will be taking advantage of that opportunity.
Jen @ HaHas for HooHas says
We can sit here and speculate all day. Let’s get down to the cold, hard, scientific FACTS about what moms do better at than dads. It’s science, people, don’t shoot the messenger!
Matt you keep giving Josh a forum to stand on and in the end you’re going to be burning your own supporters be it brands or bloggers. Creating conversation doesnt have to create rage…. yet time after time thats what happens with posts like these from your group.
Matt Schneider says
Thanks for the feedback. Though support from other bloggers and brands is on our radar screen, our primary goal with posts like these is to get people thinking differently about fathers, mothers, and parenthood. Ours is a diverse community, and I’m thrilled that dads in our group are willing to speak in their own voice about a range of issues.