“I feel like we should be talking about football.”
“Wait. Give them a shot.”
– CNN hosts, setting up segment on DadBloggers at M3 Summit
Yes, you have to do this. Stop trying to change the fucking subject. You have to talk about being a parent. You have to think about what it means to be a good father. You have to give some consideration to what kind of stroller is best and when to introduce solid foods and whether or not to hold the kid back from kindergarten.
You’d rather talk about football; well, that’s just too fucking bad.
That’s right, I’m talking to you, Drew Griffin, Mr. Snarky CNN Host Guy. I’m talking to you, and to the conventional wisdom that says men don’t want to talk about fatherhood or family or raising kids. According to you, men want to talk about sports and drink beer and look at porn. This is a characterization that I object to even more than the stereotype we see on TV and film all the time: the inept goofball dad or the monster dad. What has me good and pissed is the widespread acceptance of the Don’t Give a Shit Dad paradigm. I’m so sick of that characterization of men that it makes me want to puke — and I like beer and watching sports. Hem.
I think most dads I know recognize that this pose isn’t adequate, even if we indulge from time to time, because it doesn’t serve our wives and our children well, and ultimately it doesn’t serve us well either. What makes dads who we are as men: family, marriage, parenthood.
So I proudly consider myself a dadblogger, though that is something of a sideline for DadLabs. And, as a dadblogger, I get dismissed because guys like Drew Griffin assume that no guys read Dad Blogs.
Problem is, he’s right.
Which doesn’t make him any less of an arrogant bastard.
Dads don’t read dad blogs. There, I said it. Furthermore, maybe it’s not their fault. Maybe dads don’t read blogs because dad blogs suck. After all “Dad Blogs Suck” could well have been the collective title for back-to-back sessions I recently sat in on at the Type-A Mom conference in Asheville, NC. Featuring, Ron Mattocks of “Sugar Milk” and CK Lunchbox, Megan Jordan of Velveteen Mind and Jim Turner of DadStalking, these panels characterized dad bloggers as being clueless, doltish, grasping, uncommunicative, self-loving and commercially driven. I often couldn’t tell if I was at a blog conference or in marriage counseling.
To be fair, the negative behaviors cited above were largely observed in the social media realm, and weren’t a direct criticism of the content or quality of writing found on the average dad blog. And although I myself haven’t experienced the kind of douchebaggery they described (maybe because I’m a perp), I have absolutely no reason to doubt that their characterization is true, nor did I disagree with their assertion that dadbloggers should be more like their more successful female counterparts: community-minded, collective, supportive, and mindful of web etiquette (though there was a whole Norma Rae, We’re-Not-Going-to-Take-Your-Slave-Wages-Anymore-Mr. Internet thing going on at Type-A).
What bums me out was the general consensus that whatever else dadbloggers are doing, we’re certainly not galvanizing men, drawing them online or giving them a basis for conversation. The “Year of the DadBlogger” has failed to materialize. At best the “dad space” is nascent, still ahead of the curve, awaiting the arrival of the legions of dads described by demographers, sociologists and marketing gurus as on the horizon, leading a revolution in the way American families are organized and function.
So what’s it going to take, Dadbloggers, for us to suck less?
At the end of the day, I think there is a ray of hope in what the estimable RebelDad characterized as a hollow mishmash of a cover article in the current Newsweek. I get it that there is a lot of recycled material here — studies on household chores we’ve seen before, Sweden held up as an example, Mad Men examined as a barometer of our times — but there is a call to action that seems essential in order for Dad Blogs to suck less — to change “the prevailing codes of manhood [that] have yet to adjust to the changing demands on men.”
Amen. I’m in. How?
Where do I sign up to change cultural mores? To wag my finger at the likes of Drew Griffin? But without sucking.
Become a Momblogger? Just keep plugging away at what we’re doing and wait for reinforcements? My current thinking is that a little of both will be required.