Monday, May 19, 2014

Disposable Stereotypes

So we're having a baby

Slowly we are preparing ourselves for the arrival of our little bundle of replicated genes.  We've officially started Moving Furniture in Anticipation of the Baby.  If this were an 80's movie montage, right now there'd be scenes of us painting the nursery and trying to put the crib together.

As a librarian and a teacher, of course we're getting our fair share of reading in, too.  Every week Katherine asks me to pick up some new book on baby rearing at my library.  We have 341,653 decisions to make, and we want to be prepared.

One decision is whether to use cloth or disposable diapers.  Considering we're both crunchy hippie granola types, it seems pretty self-evident that we'll use cloth diapers.  I use my own cloth handkerchiefs, for snot's sake!

So Katherine asked me to check out the following book from my library:  Changing Diapers: The Hip Mom's Guide to Modern Cloth Diapering by Kelly Wels. 

It's a small square book, novelty-sized, and we thought it would guide us in all the things we need to know about using cloth diapers.

But the second page of the introduction already turned us off with this disclaimer:

Hey, Dads!  Just so you know, this book is for you, too!  Please swap out "mom" for "dad" wherever appropriate.

And then it goes on to address the whole book toward "mom."  Why can't they just use the gender-neutral "parent" if they want to appeal to dads, also?

Our hackles were already raised, but then when Katherine flipped through the book she found this passage, in a chapter called "Daddies and Diapers":

If Dad needs convincing (because he's going to be doing his fair shair of changing diapers too), start your conversation with this: "Honey, how would you like to save $2,500?"

As his head swims with the idea that he really might be able to get that big-screen TV after all the unanticipated costs of having a baby are added up, he could be brought on board rather quickly.... Don't force the issue.  Why don't you leave this book near his favorite spot (maybe in the bathroom or by the TV remote) and put a bookmark right here on this chapter.
Um, no.   This book advertises itself as "hip" and "modern", but its attitudes towards men are neither.  Manipulate your man with money-- he doesn't care about the environment!  Men have to be reminded (parenthetically) that they might have to change a diaper or two.  Men have a raging boner for big-screen TVs.  How could a book on such a progressive, environmental topic be so openly sexist?

I realize that my wife and I are not mainstream in our gender roles and beliefs, but surely we're not that far off the norm, are we?  The same year that Wels' book was published (2011), the Census Bureau reported that One-Third of Fathers with Working Wives Regularly Care for Their Children. That's a pretty large population to ignore. 


asplenia said...

That last Someecards is fantastic! My sis raised 4 kids and I think was the only one who oversaw diaper duty.

Also, ha! "We have 341,653 decisions to make, and we want to be prepared."

One evening I found myself in a conversation about child-rearing and someone shared that in addition to reading 874 books, there were 1,318 videos to watch too ranging from techniques to proper latching when feeding to how to handle dissent in older kids. Talk about info overload - how could anyone possibly prepare?! Working in a library must help though.

Tim said...

I'm sorry for your sister if she had to do all the diapers herself!

Yeah, how we are mentally, emotionally, physically, and practically preparing for this baby could be the subject of a whole other post.

Thanks for your comment!

Val said...

Congratulations!! :)