I thought I’d been transported back into an episode of the TV series Mad Men when I saw bottle manufacturer Bitty Lab’s latest campaign. Over the past few days they tweeted the following message twelve times, telling new fathers to buy their bottles to “reclaim your wife.”
This offensive marketing tactic presumes that a woman, or at least her breasts, belong to a man. It also attempts to create a false competition between the baby and the father, when the father should be supporting the mother in providing the best care and nutrition for her baby.
In case there was any misunderstanding about their message, they alternated the “reclaim your wife” message with a second one specifically pointing out that competition.
The tweets created an uproar on twitter, with many breastfeeding moms pointing out how offensive and inappropriate the tweets are. Others, like blogger Feminist Breeder, took the tweets and the discussion to facebook.
The company, Bitty Labs, also took to facebook to post an apology that misses the mark entirely. They wrote:
Ladies, We’re really sorry about the twitter campaign run last week. It was a huge miss understood [sic] and resulted in offensive messages. It was taken down yesterday. The messages had nothing to do with putting a husband needs before the baby’s needs, it was more about having a little extra time for the rest of the family. Obviously the whole campaign was poorly executed. We apologize deeply for this miss understanding and assure you, from now on the campaigns will be closely monitored before they go out. Thank you for a second chance.
The messages, however, have not been taken down. They are all still visible at this time on the twitter account. Their apology really missed the mark with a lot of moms and feminists, who do not see “reclaim your wife” as equivalent to “having a little extra time for the rest of the family.”
Newborns sleep most of the day. There is plenty of opportunity for moms to spend time with the rest of the family with the baby around (the baby is, after all, part of the family) or while the baby sleeps in a nearby room. Moms can, of course, choose to take a break too, but that shouldn’t be because their husband is insisting on “reclaiming” his wife. Newborns have intense needs during those first few months and each woman is unique in terms of how quickly her body recovers from pregnancy and childbirth. Any message suggesting that the husband/father has the right to “reclaim” anything is horribly sexist.
It is bad enough that there are men out there who still see their wives as property. Even worse is that this campaign came from the owners of Bitty Lab, two mothers who breastfed their own babies.
Photo credit: Mothering Touch on flickr