And Then There’s Dad
by guest blogger Tom @ Being Michael’s Daddy
While I have not personally been dismissed as a second-class parent simply because I’m a male, I am not at all happy with the common illustration of fathers in the media.
It really bothers me that husbands and fathers are most often portrayed in television commercials as helpless, clueless, bungling goofs.
I did an informal study of television commercials during prime adult viewing hours over the last week, and found that out of thirty-seven commercials featuring husbands or dads, thirty-two of them depicted these men negatively.
Not that they were shown to be bad men, but were shown as a loveable oaf at best, or a slacker and a burden on his wife, or somewhere in between.
There’s the sleeping, stubble-faced doofus in the Windex commercial who gets up and crashes into the plate-glass window that he presumably didn’t clean. Or the doughy, “might as well be another kid” husband in the refrigerator commercial who’s calling out to his wife because he can’t find some critical food item. And then there’s the FluMist nasal spray commercial in which the father bumbles his way through dressing his kids in summer clothes, sending them out in the dead of winter.
This is neither a fair representation of the truth, nor is it an image we want to continue to uphold. Like it or not, life imitates art. This includes television commercials, which are specifically designed to make a lasting impression on people.
What boys see depicted as role models for men, they will come to emulate. What girls see depicted as role models for men, they will come to expect. The cycle is self-sustaining.
Staying on this course, we’ll eventually see a generation in which the men are spineless and pathetic, and the women expect no better from them.
What needs to happen, aside from the TV being switched off, is that men need to pick up the mantle of leadership, integrity, perspicacity, strength and guts and raise their sons likewise. Men need to treat their wives and daughters well, behaving like men.
A man is a leader. A man is strong, determined, decisive and capable. A man can be tender and gentle when he needs to be, but he stands for what is right and protects his own.
He doesn’t have to be a bombastic despot, a slick, lecherous womanizer or a buckskin-wearing mountaineer in order to be a real man. He just needs to have his priorities straight, his resolution firm, and genuine love for his wife and family.
Of course, it’ll be a lot harder for the ad agencies to come up with clever commercials if they can’t pick on the easy target. But they change their tactics to match the market. So let’s make it our goal to change the market.
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Many thanks to Tom for submitting this article. Click here if you’d like to learn more about the series, submit your own story, or view other dad’s stories.
And remember, you are not alone…
Additional Dads are Not Second-class Parents Articles:
– Part 1
– Part 3: A Divorced Dad’s Perspective
– Part 4: Dads Need Help Too
– Part 5: Perceptions & Paradigms
– A Question for Dads: Have You Been Treated Like a Second-class Parent?
– Where’s the Dad in Toy Story?
2 Replies to “Dads Are Not Second-class Parents, Part 2: And Then There’s Dad”
My feeling is that it’s in the ad firm’s best interests to start getting the portrayal of dads correct… because I know that I take notice when a brand advertises to me in a respectful way as a father — and I’ll probably give them my business.
I think there’s a slow but steady shift in this and I think as sites like yours and ours keep pushing a better image of what fatherhood is that we’ll tip the scales on this.
Good post! -B
A side note: On my regular blog I have a story that might seem to undo what I’ve just said here; one in which I paint myself as a loveable oaf who doesn’t have much sense.
And for that story, it was true.
A commenter pointed out that it’s an example of how mommy brains and daddy brains work differently, and she is absolutely right. It isn’t that I was being stupid so much as I was being male, and I recognize the fact that in a certain light, this makes me look ridiculous.
My point with the article above is that the perspective from which we view men shouldn’t always be the same one, pointing out the flaws in our behavior and thought processes. There’s a major inequity in TV commercials, primarily showing men in this negative light.
In fact, we don’t have to make one character look stupid in order to make the others look sensible. It’s just an easy formula, and men are the easy target.