Thursday, March 22, 2012

Huggies & The Case of The Maybe Not-So-Bumbling, but the (Holy Sh*t!) Sensitive Dads

I'm a Redskins fan (insert joke here), so I despise almost anything Texan, aside from their beef.  To me, it's big hair-dos, breast implants, 10-gallon hats and too many proud to expose their moose-knuckle too tight and too blue jean owners.  Yeah, sure, I hear Austin is cool but they're the exception to the rule.  However, this is one time (perhaps the only time in my life) that I have to have a Texans back...and it makes me feel sick.

You may have heard of the Kimberly-Clark Corporation.  If not, well...they own Huggies.  You know, as in diapers.  You may have also heard that they recently came under a fair bit of fire from a little known sub-culture, known as stay-at-home dads, regarding an ad that they produced depicting dads as butterfingered, goofy, inept and altogether at a loss when it comes to their babies.  The idea was to test Huggies diapers under the lazy eye of the dad, to see if the diapers could withstand the bumbling and generally baby-dumb hands of today's Lazy-Boy neanderthals.  If you haven't seen the ad, in part here is ABC news coverage of the debacle and clips from the ad.

What I see is a blatant caricature-like depiction of some guys with their kids.  There are scenes of the kids getting messy at dinner time.  What kids don't get messy when they eat?  There is another scene where the dad appears to be doing some sort of Elvis or chicken dance impression.  Either way, what parent (mom or dad) doesn't do some sort of stupid facial contortion or doofus dance on a daily basis to entertain their kids?  Then you see a dad picking up his baby, smelling the babies rear end and assumedly wincing from the stench.  I do that on a daily basis.  Maybe I don't exaggerate the stink face, but I pick up both of my kids and smell them to be sure which one is the culprit.  It was a obvious parody, not a a character assault.

Dads all over the country, it seemed, acted as if Huggies had taken their jewels and slammed them in the door.  The complaint was that this depiction was taking fathers back to the 50's.  That in today's society where more and more men are taking the reigns at home and raising their children - that maybe we should be respected for doing so and not mocked by the diaper industry we support 10-16 or more times a day.

I get it.  I really do.  I just don't think the angry response, by so many, was terribly necessary.  As if stay-at-home dads (or stay at home moms too...don't want to upset them) don't have enough to do at home, why fight something like this.  I've been a stay-at-home dad for just over two years now.  I am proud of what I do.  I generally think that society as a whole still mocks the concept of this new role, but really why should I care?  At the end of the day, I care that my kids look up to me and that my wife respects and supports my position at home.  Everyday, while out with the kids, I inevitably have some dumby telling me how brave I am to be sporting both boys or asking me if mom is taking a day off.  Does it get irritating?  Sure, sometimes.  But let's face facts, while the field of SAHD's (stay-at-home dads for you acronym deficient individuals) continues to grow, the majority of stay-at-home parents continues to be women.  It's will be a long time before society sees men as the primary caretaker as "normal".  I suspect that will happen when changing tables are installed in all mens bathrooms.  According to the US Census Bureau, in 2010, there were 154,000 declared stay-at-home dads and presumably that number has risen since.  That's a good number of dads at home in the saddle.  It's great.  But it's still not the majority...not even close.

I just think it's silly to get worked up about something so mundane, especially a commercial that was intended to be aimed at women.  They obviously missed the mark, but if our wives did the same thing and freaking out about the injustices of a commercial portrayal of them, we'd be telling them to relax and learn to take a joke.  Or at least that's what I'd do, maybe I'm the asshole (though there's very little "maybe" about that, or so I am told).  As a society, we have become so driven to be respected by everyone for whatever it is we do and who we are.  Always looking for that fair and even pat on the back.  Not that there is anything inherently wrong with that, it's just a little adolescent.  Good, bad or indifferent: we all judge people, we often pigeon hole people, and we routinely mock what we don't understand or agree with.  But does it make you a better person, feel that much better about yourself, or in this case a better Dad if you get that fair shake or in this case a new commercial?  No.  Are you really going to stop buying Huggies and move over to Pampers because of this?  From what I've read, some say they will.  I don't know what to say to these people aside from maybe "you guys need to get out more".

For all of the stupid little comments people make to me when I'm out with the boys implying that the thought of a dad out with his boys...dare I say it? like seeing a unicorn fondling the boogie man at the end of a rainbow; I also get the other ones saying how great it is that I am out with the boys and how lucky I am to be a stay-at-home with them full-time.  I am lucky, and those original commercials were funny.  Maybe some of you guys should switch to boxers, stop wearing skinny jeans or find some other way to release some of that testicular tension and go after the real enemy - Ciara, Viagra and Levitra.  Those guys have been scaring me for years.         

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