Thursday, June 13, 2013

"real men are dads"

That was the subject line to an email I received this morning from a national spa chain that I've patronized over the years.

We often view Mother's Day as the hardest day because people equate womanhood with motherhood. And I think it's even more specific than that. The images and advertisements you see around Mother's Day are clear in their indication that you're not a real woman unless you can reproduce and carry a child.

But what about men? What about Father's Day?

Men have it rough, too. I would venture to say that they may even have it more difficult than women. They also experience what it's like to feel like "less" of their gender, but on top of this, men often cannot voice what they are experiencing - a topic that was eloquently outlined recently by the Washington Post. They suffer in silence, rather than seeking out support. Men often don't have that luxury. Many don't have other males in their life that they can lean on. It's not considered "manly" to seek help. It's not considered "manly" to cry or to mourn the loss of the inability to have children. Men are supposed to be strong and viril. Men are supposed to fix the problems; yet, infertility is a problem they cannot fix.

Father's Day ads only play to this stereotype. The gifts, the settings - they all involve tools, equipment, sporting goods, the outdoors. The more masculine the gift, the better, because nothing says manliness like fatherhood (and vice versa).

Needless to say, I immediately unsubscribed from this company's emails. I will no longer be using this spa's services, and in the comment section of the unsubscribe box, I explained why: that I cannot give my money to a company that is willing to blatantly draw comparisons between manliness and fatherhood. Just as being a mother doesn't make me more of a woman, being a father doesn't make my husband more of a man.

Do you know who I consider to be a "real man?"

A real man is a man who holds his wife's hand while she's having yet another ultrasound. He's the man who cleans up his wife's vomit when the anesthesia from her medical procedure makes her sick. He's the man who runs to the store late at night to get wine or chocolate or feminine products when the latest cycle fails. He's the man who makes excuses not to attend events with friends or family because you just can't bear to leave the house. He's the man who kisses your cheek and tells you he'll always love you, with kids or without. He's the man who cries with you when you experience yet another miscarriage, another tragic loss. He's the one who stays up late at night to help you re-do your adoption profile for the tenth time.

Not changing diapers. Not putting a bottle in a kid's mouth. No - it's going through hell and back with your partner and never wavering in your support for her that makes you a "real man."

Take note, society.


Denver Laura said...

I think the phrase was a little misconstrued. There is a "real men real fathers" movement in urban areas known for having large numbers of fatherless households. I believe it was anybody can be a father but it takes a real man to be a dad. The idea was to provide the kids with male role models, somewhat like big brothers big sisters to help guide at-risk boys into adulthood.

With that said, the phrase shouldn't be used in adverts for Father's Day. My husband was a real man long before he became a dad.

Katie said...

Laura: I disagree. I've seen other examples of that campaign/movement, and this was in no way related. The dads featured in this advertisement were white and middle to upper-class. In addition, I have a hard time believing that this was the intent of an email advertisement from a day spa - one that caters to the same clientele featured in their advertisements.

Jenn said...

This made me cringe. And you see it all the time. There's that picture on FB they share, something about "You don't know what love is until you're a mother" shit.

Rebecca said...

beautifully put Katie

MrsMann said...

Well said as always!

It Is What It Is said...

Ugh, how utterly offensive. I hope you told the day spa so. They need to be accountable for their misguided advertising slogans. Just, ugh.

This article, on the other hand, is pretty good (except for the use of the word 'implant' instead of 'transfer'-->

Men who have been through the trenches with their wives, regardless of outcome, who give hundreds of injections and deposit their 'sample' into a cup without complaint, who hold her through a BFP in spite of his own disappointment, those are real men.

Toni said...

I agree with your view Katie. I also hate it when people say you never know true love until you become a mum. Its like society thinks you have no value until you have had babies. I think these companies have no idea how offensive these things are to those who cant have children. I am lucky enough I am now pregnant after a long battle with infertility, but I am still very careful what I say to people because I know how hard it is.

Do I Have to Be a D.I.N.K.? said...

This made me tear up...well said!

Geochick said...

I wonder about marketing genius's sometimes. If they were going for a piggyback on the larger campaign, they sorely missed the mark. What a stupid subject line.

Seriously?! said...

Totally agree!!!