When Wired magazine came out with a “Geek Dad” themed June cover, Jezebel writer Katie Baker was quick to charge that Wired was ignoring mothers and alienating women. She takes issue with a general-interest publication apparently implying that women can’t be geeks who engage in fun science and tech activities with their children.
And it’s a fair criticism, especially given the pervasive cultural stereotypes that women aren’t good at math or science. But it’s also a little hypocritical – after all, how often do magazine stories focusing on parenting talk about being a good father at all?
As Mike Adamick and Brian Reid point out, more often than not, parenting websites and magazines seem to ignore the fact that fathers are parents, too. “Parenting” seems to be synonymous with “motherhood” – to the point where, often, the two terms are completely interchangeable. And ads aimed at parents aren’t much better – usually implying that men are incapable of cleaning up spills, changing diapers, or doing laundry, and that their wives are always cleaning up after them and fixing their messes. (Apart from being generally demeaning to men, these ads completely ignore the reality of same-sex couples with kids.)
It’s not just parenting magazines, ads, and websites, though – even scientific research often seems to completely dismiss the idea that men have an impact on children’s development. Study after study examines mothers’ influence on everything – throughout the past century, mothers have been blamed for causing their children to be obese, anorexic, schizophrenic, gay, and even autistic due to poor parenting.
But what about fathers? Fathers, it seems, almost never share the blame when children suffer from poor parenting – and they rarely seem to get much credit when they do everything right, either.
While maybe it would have been better for Wired to talk about “Geek Parents” and include articles from both men and women – is it really a problem to focus on fathers for once? It’s only one issue of the magazine. Who’s to say they won’t do a “Geek Mom” issue in the future?
Photo credit: Jiunn Kang Too