Friday, November 22, 2013

"When You're a Mom, There Are No Sick Days"?

There are two ways to respond to this commercial. First, from a dad's perspective, it's offensive to say that we can't take care of kids, and that without Mom, our kids would be sad and in constant pain. It's an old joke, years past its sell-by date. We're dads, we're dumb. OK.

The other way to look at this commercial is to see how harmful it is for moms. And the two are connected: when brands and popular culture ignore dads or treat us as incompetent fools, it's not simply offensive to dads, but also harmful to moms.

Women have gone through a relatively rapid transformation in the last few decades. After thousands of years with strict division of labor keeping them in the house, women were finally able to find work outside the home. However, this move to the public domain will not be complete as long as mothers who work outside the home are made to feel like they're abandoning their kids.

Society is slowly getting there, and although many stay-at-home dads and work-outside-the-home moms may not be comfortable with the Feminist label, they are working toward the feminist ideals of gender equality and of disproving the idea that conventional division of labor is the only natural way for parents to live.

The growing movement to change the perception of dads as incompetent is connected to the movement to remove the guilt working moms face every time they leave home for work, and this is the reason this commercial is so unbelievably wrong. Working moms and stay-at-home moms should be allowed to be sick. Stay-at-home moms should be allowed to lay in bed all day, knowing their competent partners are on top of the parenting thing. Sure, I'm not as good as my wife is at combing my daughter's hair. In my defense, I haven't had long hair in 20 years (and I probably didn't brush it when it was long, because I thought I was a rock star, and rock stars don't brush). So I'll give them that one. But while I comb my daughter's hair, my wife--whether she works outside the home or is a stay-at-home mom--should be able to watch TV and tune out. She's allowed a sick day. That's the benefit of raising kids with another person you can trust.

This commercial, though, tells mom two things:

1. You can't trust your husband

2. You need to be better by tomorrow, or else--

So join me in raising a toast (of hot tea) to all the sick mothers of the world, and let's tell them to take it easy today. And tomorrow. Take it easy until you're better. We've got this.

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  1. Excellent post. Love breakdowns of media and its insidious messages. You are spot on

  2. So frustrating when men are treated so poorly by companies and the media. I think moms and dads can be on equal footing when it comes to taking care of the children. My hope is that as dads and moms speak up about these situations, those companies will start to get a clue!

  3. Oh love this! Often dads are better moms, I think :D

  4. Well said. My wife is better than me at a lot of things, but only slightly. I do a pretty darn good job and she is rightfully confident that she can be sick and not have to worry one bit.

  5. My husband is a very involved Daddy and does pretty much everything I do. I wish they showed more dads in the media...

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