Media and Stereotypes Aren’t Doing Dads Any Favors
If Jif peanut butter, Kix cereal, and other everyday household products aren’t explicitly feminine products, then why are they being marketed only to moms? When dads are marketed to at all, it’s usually phrased in such a way to show ease of use (“so easy even dad can use it!”).
The reasons are aplenty, but simply put, a label is hard to erase. Dads are not aloof, nor inept, and they’re certainly not secondary players in the parenting game.
Most companies rely on some easily available stereotypes that are ultimately offensive, inaccurate, and help perpetuate a fundamental ignorance that feeds a certain boardroom agenda.
One could also argue that the typecast, so-called bumbling dad, was born in Hollywood. TV sitcoms (“Married with Children” and “The Simpsons”), movies (“Mr. Mom” and “National Lampoon’s Vacation”), comics (“Blondie”), and even children’s books (“Berenstain Bears”) all once crafted the notion that mom is the pillar of strength, organization, and sensibility, often correcting the incompetent and distant dad, who merely offers comic relief.
Like any stock blueprint, this willful pigeonholing feeds our senses, shapes our attitudes, and makes us believe that all dads behave like this. The formula works so well that companies have convinced themselves that nothing has changed over the years, and thus, the typecasting continues.
As a result, society makes this persist in many ways. One example is the methodology of the academic studies about moms and dads and their role as parents. The observations and conclusions are usually mom-biased and more importantly discount, overlook, or ignore a dad’s perspective.
The ignorance to refrain from marketing to dads is gender discrimination, but more importantly, it creates an unnecessary divide in the parenting world. It also, unknowingly and unintentionally, prohibits men from flourishing as equally respected and valued parents.
It’s probable that executives may claim market research offers proof that moms handle the majority of the shopping in order to justify their marketing strategy. However, companies and marketing executives seem oblivious to the significant and progressive cultural changes that have occurred with dads in the last three decades.
A big reason for this is that they still believe the only substantial role men play as a parent is that of the primary breadwinner – the parent who earns the money but doesn’t spend it.
The largest reason companies are oblivious to cultural change, however, are the many myths that portray dads as incompetent, absent, and irresponsible parents who can’t hold a candle to a mom’s ability to parent, raise, or nurture a child.
Dads deserve better than this. We can all do our part to let businesses know that dads matter to families, and are equal players in the parenting world!