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I’m a stay-at-home dad. People say all kinds of dumb things to stay-at-home dads. This blog began as a way for me to record these comments and criticize the people who said them. However, it's evolved, and I now use it to express other random thoughts on parenting, children, gender, and society. Thanks for checking it out.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Papa Murphy’s: Dad-Shaming at 425 Degrees

Some encouraging ads have popped up in the last few years that show dads taking more active roles with their kids and around the house. A couple years ago, Tide made a commercial that showed a dad doing laundry and playing with his daughter. Kellogg’s presented a dad serving breakfast to his kids. And Campbell’s is currently running a brilliant spot that shows two dads enjoying a bowl of Star Wars soup with their son.

Papa Murphy’s decided to jump on the bandwagon, only they completely screwed it up. Their commercial, which can be viewed here, starts out all right, showing a loving father doing what loving fathers do: playing dress-up with his daughters. Then, it quickly takes an awful, poorly calculated turn.

The voiceover asks all the ladies in the house if the men they married have become big, soft “un-bold” wusses who do terrible things like interact with their children or express their fatherly devotion by engaging in active play. Our guy grows increasingly sad and helpless with each shot. His wife, who’s been watching all this, becomes distressed, realizing that her once-immature, sports-loving, beer-guzzling husband has become what no woman in her right mind would want: a devoted father!

So, into the kitchen she goes. Like any good wife, she makes her damn husband some damn dinner so that he can feel like a man again. She slides a nasty looking and nastier sounding Papa Murphy’s Frank's RedHot Buffalo Chicken Pizza into the oven before it’s too late. Next, we see that husband of hers doing what men were meant to do, watching football, eating pizza, and grunting like an enthusiastic ape. Rejoice! This man is BOLD again!

As is the case with a lot TV ads, there’s a 30-second version and a 15-second version. If you catch the longer version, you’ll see that, at the end of the commercial, this poor sucker’s daughters are still painting his toenails, and we’re reminded that this guy isn’t so bold after all. Even Papa Murphy isn’t a miracle worker, and this fella is still stuck with two adorable, healthy daughters who admire him. What a sap! Am I right, bros?

Could it be? Did I marry one of those "good guys"?
It’s hard to tell which part of the commercial I hate the most. Is it the look of boredom and defeat on the dad’s face as his daughters show him how much they love him? The horror on the wife’s face when she recognizes what’s become of her man? The idea that it’s every wife’s job to “re-bold” her husband, whatever the hell that means? The suggestion that Buffalo sauce is manlier than fatherhood?

The reception in social media has been overwhelming, and not in the way Papa Murphy’s was hoping for, I assume. It’s been said that any publicity is good publicity, but when your customers are saying things like, “I’ll never buy another one of your products again,” it’s hard to see the silver lining. Papa Murphy’s has clearly failed.

Here are some reactions on Twitter:

@LauraKeeney: “Re-bold your man”? @papamurphys thinks dads lose manhood by playing with daughters. I don’t understand how ads like this get made. #NFL

@KellyDiels: That Papa Murphy’s “re-bold your man” commercial is some sexist bullshit.

@wilder_timothy: Nothing better than appealing to crappy male stereotypes and glorifying uninvolved fathers <3 Thanks, Papa Murphy’s

And here are few of the many, many posts customers are putting on Papa Murphy’s Facebook page:

Love your product, hate your latest commercial. A father engaging in imaginative play with his daughters is NOT an issue. I’m appalled that you would air such a sexist, misogynistic, and outdated idea. Please stop airing the commercial and find a different way to promote your new flavor.

Based purely on your “de-bolded man” commercial, I will never purchase your product again. It sends the message that there is something wrong with a man who enjoys playing with his daughters, and that it’s something which needs to be fixed. Why? Does a man playing dress up threaten his manhood? Does it threaten yours? Clearly you are out of touch.

If you find nothing wrong with the “bold” pizza commercials, why do you keep deleting posts about people’s disappointment in the ad?

I am so very disappointed that the cheese bread changed at my Papa Murphy’s. I liked the round bread and now a VERY thick rectangle is the choice. I will not return to the store. Why was it changed???

Clearly, the decision-makers at Papa Murphy’s are screwing up left and right. Their marketing department, their cheese bread department … in light of such passionate consumer feedback, you have to believe heads are gonna roll.

For Papa Murphy’s part, they’ve been replying to some of the negative posts with a predictable half-apology:

Thank you for taking the time to provide feedback. Our recent Buffalo Chicken Pizza commercial was intended to show the bold flavor of the new pizza in a fun and humorous way, showcasing a family dynamic in a light-hearted manner. We apologize for any offense this advertisement may have caused as that was not our intention.

As for me, I’ve never bought a Papa Murphy’s pizza. Until now, I had nothing against the company. But after seeing this ad, I can safely say I’m now devoted to being a lifelong noncustomer. It won’t be easy, but I’ll somehow figure out a way to reclaim that boldness I lose every time I play with my children. Maybe I’ll skip a few showers or get a new pickup truck or go strangle a wild animal with my bare hands. Or I’ll ignore my kids, like Papa Murphy’s suggests.

Better yet, I’ll ignore Papa Murphy’s. Ignore their ads, ignore their stores, ignore their ludicrously thick rectangular cheese bread. I invite everyone else to do the same. Let’s see how bold Papa Murphy’s feels when it looks at its falling profits and realizes that running such a sexist, backward ad, no matter how “light-hearted” they think it is, has consequences.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mother's Day: The Morning After

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. People love Mother’s Day. Every restaurant in town that offers brunch was packed, every flower shop was bustling, and every social media site was clogged with sentimental photos of kids alongside their dear, beloved mothers. According to USFlag.org, you’re supposed to fly the American Flag in your front yard on Mother’s Day, putting it right up there with Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, Washington’s Birthday, Lincoln’s Birthday, and Easter Sunday, the celebration of the heavenly ascension of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I’m telling you—people love Mother’s Day. Father’s Day, absent from the flag-flying list, has never achieved that level of reverence.

It makes sense, I suppose. We expect so much of moms that it’s only natural that we make such a big deal out of their day. When my mom was around, I certainly celebrated it without question. However, a recent comment from a friend made me realize I’ve developed a different point of view on Mother’s Day, that I’ve gained a new perspective since becoming a parent and witnessing other people my age become parents. Something about the day has become unsettling to me, but I couldn’t put my finger on it until now.

I was working late Saturday night, the night before Mother’s Day, and I ran into this lady I know. I’m a comedian, so I almost always work Saturday nights, and I usually (despite my best intentions) end up staying out with friends until bar time. She’s a comedian too, and she’s a mom. When she saw me, she said, “How are you going to do it tomorrow morning?”

“Do what?” I responded.

“Don’t you have to get up tomorrow? It’s Mother’s Day. Don’t you have to make breakfast and take care of the kids?” she asked, as if I should be at home, rehearsing my omelet flipping technique in preparation for the big morning.

I explained to her that I’m up with the kids most mornings, making breakfast and getting them ready for the day, often after a late night at work. Although Sunday is usually the one day a week I get to sleep in (my wife’s day is Saturday), I wasn’t sure how we were going to handle Mother’s Day. If I had to get up, no big deal.

She seemed surprised by the idea that I make breakfast for my family. “Oh!” she exclaimed, impressed and confused at the same time.

And then it occurred to me: Mother’s Day is the only day of the year I’m expected to do anything. The other 364 days, in most people’s eyes, I’m free to sleep in without judgment. But what if my wife sleeps in on any day other than Mother’s Day? Well, that makes her selfish and lazy. She should be up and about, feeding kids, scrubbing floors, and packing lunches. If she doesn’t like it, too bad. She’ll get her annual day off the next time the second Sunday in May rolls around.
Sorry, moms, but your day is over. Back to work!

Because of that, I’m not so sure I like Mother’s Day. Please don’t take that to mean I don’t like moms. I love moms, which is why I’m not so sure I like Mother’s Day—at least not the way we celebrate it. It’s a giant reminder of how shitty we are to our moms every other day of the year. I’m not saying you, the person reading this right now, is shitty to your mom. I’m saying we, as a culture, are shitty to moms. And that’s why we feel the need to continue observing Mother’s Day. It’s a celebration of how much suffering our moms put up with, orchestrated by the people who caused the suffering in the first place.

Here’s an idea: Maybe if we didn’t demand that moms handle 90% of the parenting duties, maybe if we didn’t stick them with all the household chores, maybe if we would remove the enormous pressure to be super-human that we saddle them with, maybe if we didn't penalize them financially for pausing their careers so that they can create life, maybe if we provided adequate and universal prenatal and neonatal care—then maybe we wouldn’t need a day to praise them and all that they do. We pile all these burdens on our moms, buy them chocolates once a year, and then go back to burdening them the next day.

It’s supposed to warm my heart when I hear a mom on Mother’s Day say, “My kids made me breakfast this morning, and my husband did the laundry! I’m so #blessed!” Truth be told, that’s the saddest thing I’ve ever heard. Look how excited you are that someone toasted a frozen waffle for you. You call yourself blessed because the people you live with cleaned their own damn clothes—in other words, they acted like considerate human beings. If your family wants to show you how much they love you, how about they make you breakfast and do the laundry next Sunday too? Or on a random Thursday in September? Or, I don’t know, how about every day? You know, like you do for them.

So there’s my problem with Mother’s Day: One day of extreme, planned appreciation is supposed to balance out all the other days we take moms for granted.

Starting today, the day after Mother’s Day, let’s treat moms better. Let’s show them we love them not one day a year, but every day of the year. Let’s do the dishes, wash the clothes, and vacuum the crumbs out of the sofa (after all, we put them there). Instead of applauding moms for doing all the things we selfishly demand that they do, let's stop demanding that they do to them.

Let's make Mother's Day a celebration of our love for mothers, not a recognition of everything we make them put up with.