I sat down to write about this dreadful commercial I saw the other night, only to find, upon researching it more, that it has been pulled. Hooray! But the more I think about it this morning, the more I think that just because it’s been pulled and so swept under the rug, the more it needs to be talked about, actually.
Let me check my privilege before I begin here: My mother was a second wave feminist, and she instilled in me some Values. I was in the right place at the right time to be part of the Riot Grrrl movement.* A good eighty percent of the men I deal with are really great people who just, well… get it. The other twenty percent of these guys, the ones who want to take my agency, the guy who pulled the exceptionalism stunt on me in my pigtails at Trader Joe’s last year, I feel empowered enough to deal with them on my own. And I’m privileged enough not to run into the really scary ones that often.** Big. Privilege. Ok, recognized, stated, spoken, there it is: context.
So I’ve been thinking a lot lately about gender, ever since spending the week at Kripalu, engaged in Sisterhood, because this was a different kind of gooey center - I tend to ruminate upon gender in terms of the personal-as-political more than anything else. Men are a very important part of my life, and it helps that I live with two really great men (ok, one of them, at thirteen, is really still a cub – he still has the goofy paws and the learning curve thing happening) who value me as I am – we have a huge amount of mutual respect, a metric fuckload of love, and a really great division of labour (for the record, Will Dearest has changed a few diapers in his time). Which is to say, I am blessed with a home that is a safe place and sanctuary.
Which is why, when I saw that Huggies ad the other day, I was totally grossed out. The ad has been pulled now, thank goodness, but in case you missed it, it’s a diaper ad that claims that it’s test-driving its diapers against a group of dads holding their babies – and it implies that dads are incapable as care providers for their babies. It’s a trope so old it farts dust – didn’t we gag on this stuff back in the eighties? I had really liked to think that we’ve come further in that time. Well, maybe we have – the ad did get pulled, and the guy who wrote the ad said that he wrote it in the first place to show men involved as caretakers. Oops.
But still, there’s that trope, alive and well in the first place. And I hate the fact that the first thing that Erik turned to when he wrote the ad was the father-as-incapable, here and now in 2012. It irritates the everliving shit out of me that there are people around me who actually still believe men can’t take care of babies or other vulnerable living things just by dint of their gender. But then apparently, now in 2012, we’re still arguing over contraception, too.***
And I know I come from a place of political privilege – but I also know that an awful lot of other women in my generation do as well. I also know that a lot of the men of my generation are well-versed in feminist thought, even if they don’t recognize it as more than just being a good, upstanding guy.† So how did this diaper commercial business fly in the first place? That garbage, aimed at people who are busy making babies, a lot of them my age or younger, made it to prime-time television, whut.
I’m just aching for elections to happen and be done with†† so that I can really get a clearer picture of the political landscape. I’d like to understand better just how much of the anti-woman belief is really going on, and just how much of it is campaign rhetoric designed to influence voting folks who
truly believe in the importance of perpetuating the kyriarchy rape culture don’t understand/believe that when you oppress women, things go terribly for half the population. Just sayin’.
And right about there is where I run out of steam. So to close, here’s a man and some lion cubs he’s been taking care of.
*What’s totally interesting here is the fact that I played in a band with three men. I was the only lady, and we were all supportive of each other. True Fact: I would never have joined into a band at all if it were not for being confident enough in myself and my politics that I felt I could play with the guys on equal turf. True Fact #2: I could never have done it if the men I hung out with were douches – but I had the privilege of hanging out with guys who were keen on feminist thought, even if they just believed that they were being good guys, right?
**The last time was at a bar in NH when I was with two other women and a loud, drunken nitwit decided that he needed to be up in our business. Not only were we three able to manage the situation handily on our own, but there were a bunch of other people around us, ready to jump in if anything escalated. I recognize with gratitude that I am privileged to be safe.
***Oh, GOP, wtf. Seriously – what era do you all live in?
†To be clear, I think a lot of people don’t really intellectualize this stuff, they just live to be good, upstanding people who treat other people well. And I believe that men are privileged in such that they generally don’t have to intellectualize it, while women, for whom the personal is political, more often than men, do have to intellectualize it in order to understand what’s going on when things get hinky. I don’t think that makes us exclusive to each other, but I do think that it forces us, in many situations, to approach the same things from different angles.
††Only partly because of the politics – I’d also like to rush right over the summer heat as if it never happened, but left me a pile of vegetables from our garden, as if sprung forth from the brow of Zeus like Athena, right?