It may be the twenty-first century, however, the way society perceives the role of dads today can still be seen as antiquated. Dads are still being prevented from being able to parent equally and an example of this is the way most baby changing facilities are in the women’s toilets.
Actor and dad Ashton Kutcher vented about his frustrations surrounding the matter on his Facebook page:
“I would like my daughter to experience a world where gender doesn’t dictate one’s responsibility or limit one’s opportunity, having changing tables in men’s rooms is just a tiny step in the process of rectifying legacy gender discrimination. Men who are aware of this bias want to participate equally in the child care process, and our society should support that. It’s time to get our hands dirty.”
Many other dads have also shared their frustrations on social media.
People have been fighting for equality for decades and even though it seems the role of women in the workplace has changed, the role of men in the home has not. Whereas women now have a new found level of independence and freedom, men are still tied to a preconceived idea that they are unable to or shouldn’t be the ones looking after their children. Whilst this kind of mentality is outdated, it still impacts today’s society in more ways than one.
Al Ferguson is one of many dads that has been trying to implement change when it comes to the stereotype many dads face.
Al created the #Dadsforchange campaign after encountering that major high street names didn’t offer dad friendly changing facilities.
So far his campaign has been a success amongst other parents and awareness to discrimination many dads face is being made.
Another dad tweeted about his experience whilst out using #dadsforchange.
The aim of the campaign was to see change. To be able to give dads equality when it comes to parenting.
Al later mentioned in his blog: “I’ve just gotten off the phone to Strada who have informed me of a nationwide sweep of all their branches to check that there are baby changing facilities available to dads. And the best bit is that where the facilities are only available to mums, they’re actually adding in a changing table either in the gents or the disabled toilet so that dads can access a safe and clean space to change their baby’s nappy.”
Even though a lot of change still needs to take place, Al’s campaign has contributed to this and progress is being made.
Jim is also a dad after change. After noticing ‘sexist’ branding on a Heinz baby food jar, that reads ‘ Inspired on a recipe from Sophie, a mum just like you’, Jim wrote a letter to Heinz in the hope that this type of labelling would stop.
“All I ask is that you think about what messages you release into the world. This is not “political correctness gone mad”, it’s about avoiding enforcing lazy gender stereotypes to children, meaning that they grow up free from the outdated conventions of 1970’s sitcoms. You never know, Mr. Heinz, just by changing that one word you could help us build a society where kids can follow the life that they want to lead, regardless of their gender and where there are free unicorns for everyone or something….”
Heinz later replied to Jim saying they were not aiming to exclude anyone.
Umme Ali works in the marketing team at The Kraft Heinz Company and explained that “the main grocery shopper tends to be female. The wife, the mum. Hence the focus on mums, because ultimately the shopper is the decision maker on what to buy. However, some brands have started targeting single dads too.”
Despite understanding that companies target certain audiences, and that it’s understandable that it’s mums since research suggests that women are more likely to be the decision maker when it comes to shopping, Jim feels that doesn’t excuse the use of discriminatory language.
“Words matter, they can enforce or destroy stereotypes and, just because it is mostly going to be a mum that buys a product, does not mean that it is okay to dismiss an entire sex as being unable to look after their children.”
Whilst many brands are said to have started targeting dads as well, the ‘approved by mums’ slogans are still very much present.
Jim confesses he has had a few run-ins with anti-Dad branding and believes that it’s unnecessary to label a product with ‘inspired by a recipe by Sophie, a mum just like you’.
“It’s just tiresome in this day and age. It instantly alienates dads who feed their children, which is something that is far more widespread than previously and which should be encouraged rather than dismissed. It’s as if Heinz couldn’t even conceive of the fact that a dad might take an active role in the upbringing of his child. There’s a myriad other ways to get across the intended message that this isn’t bland, processed food, but they chose a route that makes them look so backwards-thinking.
Confessing he feels frustrated and discriminated against,Jim feels that these examples are reinforcing stereotypes.
“It’s suggesting to mums that they shouldn’t expect help and excusing lazy fathers, whilst dismissing those of us who care. My father –in-law apparently only changed three nappies in all the time his three children were infants and I don’t think that is too unusual, but this generation is different and things can change that quickly.”
More and more people are speaking out about this issue and dads are getting together to share awareness in the hope it will end this type of discrimination.
Before leaving the White House, President Obama signed a Babies Act where he made it a requirement that all toilets in public federal buildings must offer baby changing facilities and that’s including the men’s toilets.
Another celebrity trying to embrace change is Chef Gino D’Acampo. In his Manchester restaurant he provides both mum and dads with changing facilities that also come with nappies, wipes and every baby essential.
Gino explained: “When we first build the place I said we want THE best baby changing facility, ever. So every mum and dad when they come with a baby they need to have everything, from baby wipes, to nappies… everything. They need to be as comfortable as possible.”
Whilst this may be a small step to a more equal society, progress is definitely being made.