This is my open letter to the advertising industry.
Dear to whom it may concern,
Hello, I am a father. I am a parent. I am a competent and loving human being. Please stop producing advertisements that put fathers in a bad light. We are parents too. We change the diapers, we take our children to doctors appointments. We pick our children up when they are hurt and we push them along when they need motivation. We have our own parenting style that may be different than those whom you prefer to market to in your advertising. Mothers are our partners. It is a mutually beneficial relationship between fathers and mothers where we take part in equal responsibility in the care-taking and raising of our children.
U.S. Census, 2011
The U.S. Census reports that 32% of married fathers (approximately 7 million dads) are “a regular source of care for their children under age 15, up from 26% from 2002.” The U.S. Census defines “regular care of children” as an arrangement that is consistent at least one day per week.
Due to the recent economic climate, many parents are now sharing in the home responsibilities. Unlike the era of the 1950′s where the sole responsibility of the father was to be the sole financial provider. The times have definitely changed and the roles may not have reversed, but the idea of “roles” is being blurred. The idea of the “Mr. Mom” no longer exists (Huffington Post, Mr. Mom, The Bumbling (Yet Elusive) Dad, Has Apparently Died). The term “Mr. Mom” depicts a clumsy, uneducated, clueless father trying to keep up the superior parenting styles of their female partners.
Many advertising campaigns and publications perpetuate this stereotype. Parenting magazines are often leaning heavily to maternal parenting, with a small content base targeted towards fathers (mostly hidden within a site). Commercials on TV typically show one-sided views of parenting with the mothers shown in the best light. Only recently have some brands started to join the modern era of parenting and have recognized that paternal care in advertising is just as strong and emotionally invoking as an ad featuring a caring mother.
Ad’s and marketing campaigns are created with the intention of growing a consumer base or targeting a demographic. Broadening the consumer base seems to only make sense and will increase your bottom line. In a large majority of families, fathers are the ones purchasing the majority of the products. Diapers, cremes, formula and even clothing. These purchases are discussed between the parents and agree’d upon as the decision is one that effects either externally (what other perceive) or internally (what is best for your child) their family or children.
In closing, advertisers you are not the only ones at fault of gender bias. Businesses and public places must also work towards providing gender neutral facilities for parents and the like (i.e. most men’s bathrooms do not have baby changing tables). Until then we will not be closer to bridging this divide.