Should Fathers Be a Protected Class?

Protected ClassI’m hardly the type who rallies behind groups seeking to ban, boycott or otherwise make trouble for a company that says the wrong thing.

People today are generally too sensitive, and if you’re looking to be offended you’ll get there one way or the other.

It’s an issue I didn’t expect to run into when I started Daddylibrium. After all, why would a father be offended by anything other than a really rank diaper?

Turns out the marketing world doesn’t always treat fathers fairly. Take HuggiesGate from last year, an instance where an attempt at humor offended my fellow Daddy bloggers. Amazon.com, a company which rarely takes a misstep, created a new parent-friendly Prime membership labeled … Amazon Mom.

I’m sure there are other examples, but these two offer a good snapshot of the issue in play. Our culture devalues fathers, making us a source of mockery, not respect. These corporate gaffes represent a visible sign of that devaluation, some fear.  The recent Daddy Summit in Houston allowed bloggers and companies the chance to meet, discuss concerns and, likely, worked toward amenable solutions. That’s certainly a step in the right direction.

Do Fathers Have a Legitimate Gripe?

I understand why my fellow Daddy bloggers followed these cases closely, but my Outrage Meter hasn’t hit 11 yet. Nor, I suspect, will it ever. I care far more about hard, troubling statistics, like a recent study that says one in three children grow up without a father.

The million dollar question is, do the aforementioned commercial flubs feed a culture that demeans fatherhood, or are they simply bungled advertising campaigns that caused more outrage than they deserved? I suspect it’s the latter. The reasons for fatherless families are far more complicated than a series of sitcoms where the father is portrayed as a lovable buffoon, and they’re harder to solve than firing off an apology via Twitter or yanking the offending ad.

Daddylibrium will keep track of these issues as they emerge, and I reserve the right to change my mind on the matter. For now, I’m sticking with Amazon and will continue to honor how Huggies played a small but critical role in my favorite movie, “Raising Arizona.”

Comments

  1. Beth Trapani says

    It’s the same reason sports advertising is geared heavily male — not to offend/omit women, but to hit the primary market. Most of the buying decisions about things like diapers fall to moms, not dads. AmazonMom is a lot catchier than AmazonParent. It’s all about bucks.

  2. says

    That is changing, Beth. Consider this from The New York Times:

    In the past, consumer-product marketers weren’t all that concerned with what fathers thought — women, after all, make the majority of purchasing decisions for households. But men are catching up: In 2012 men spent an average of $36.26 at the grocery store per trip, compared with $27.49 in 2004, according to data from Nielsen. Companies see an opportunity to reach a new demographic.

    **************
    Women may still rule this category, but it’s not good business to insult fathers. The fact that many companies showed up to the recent Daddy summit means they recognize this.

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