Pardon me while I climb on to my soapbox for a while. Well, my figurative soapbox as I don’t have a physical one to do so with. In fact, those are really hard to come by anymore; seriously when’s the last time you’ve seen a wooden soap box? I digress though.
Lately I’ve grown more and more irritated by a fathers portrayal in media, especially in the sitcom variety. Perhaps it’s that I’ve grown to be nearly wholly defined by my role as a dad or perhaps it’s just something that has been weighing on me a little more heavily since becoming the father of a new baby. Either way, it bugs the hell out of me that fathers are shown as little more than bumbling buffons who wouldn’t know the first thing about raising their children, or for that matter do anything right.
I get it that it can be funny to see the archetypal father figure bumble about like Homer Simpson having no clue who his kids even are, let alone how to do anything on his own without messing it up. But do we have to have them represented in such a way in every single sitcom out there? I’m not a person who lets things like this standardly get to them and I’m nowhere near easily offended, but after a while it begins to grate on a person. This all came to a head for me when a recent diaper commercial centered around the idea that, “Hey our diapers are so sturdy that you could leave your children with their Dad and it could last the whole time filled to the brim while they neglect their babies so they can watch football”.
See I change diapers, I read bed time stories, I go to their activities, I sing kids to sleep, I play with them in the floor, wash them, feed them, clothe them, listen to them, love them through their faults, deal with issues at school, discipline, nuture and clean up their puke and poop all day long. It is no longer the woman’s sole duty to take care of children, to stay home and play the nuturing mother and spouse, and it irritates me that this stereotype is still hanging on. Women want equality and mostly have it and yet here we are still pretending like they do all the housework and do all the child rearing while the father acts like a complete fool who is lucky to get dressed without her everyday.
Listen, I don’t mind showing a wife in a intelligent and commanding matter as a person that has it all together. There are days I would absolutely fall apart without my wife there to help me to keep our chaos under control. However, by representing husbands, and more importantly fathers, in this role for so many years it has done a great disservice to the father figurehead. As a whole it’s degraded and derided the role a father plays and has led to an ultimate lack of respect for any sort of authority or intelligence he has. If sitcoms weren’t bad enough we have stand up comedians, and even diaper commercials to tell everyone how stupid and neglectful we are.
So what right? I mean it really doesn’t affect us in any true manner right? Wrong. It’s often been assumed while my child was being born that I shouldn’t be in the room with my wife during ultrasounds, that I shouldn’t come to a baby shower (where I have just as much stake in the child), that I don’t need the time off from work when my kid is born….I mean after all I’m just the dad. Do you see what I mean folks? Maybe in the 50s, 60s, 70s and perhaps even the 80’s this is how it was; the man went to work and made the money and the woman took care of the kids and the dishes. When the man got home he wasn’t to be bothered with trivial things like how the carpet sharks in his household did during the day or that little Billy learned to walk.
This is 2013 folks. Let’s get it together and have at least one male father in SOMETHING shown as a loving individual who is intelligent and cares about his kids development.