Tuesday, May 15, 2012

@BabbleEditors Are Trying To Suck You Into The Mom Wars


Congratulations, Babble.  You've done it again.  Your editors failed to do any justice to promoting the causes of equal parenting and eliminating gender stereotypes.  And why?  It was all in the name of scoring lots of click-throughs to keep the advertisers happy while padding Disney's bottom line (shares of DIS are up almost $10 since November) while a husband and wife get attacked for sharing their point of view.  Who wins here?  Not moms.  Not dads.  Not the kids.  Disney.

A dad named Cody, who is relatively new to the blogging world, wrote a list of ten things his wife does better than he does when it comes to parenting and housekeeping.  No big deal, right?  Wrong.  Unfortunately, Cody was not aware of the backlash that would result from the title of his blog entry and the way it was laid out in Babble format (perfect link bait and cannon fodder).  Cody's post was titled "Top 10 Things That Mothers Do Better Than Fathers" and it included the following bold subheadings so that anyone who didn't read the explanation under each photo would not know that Cody was talking about his own household and not every parent in America...

"Top 10 Things That Mothers Do Better Than Fathers"
as posted to Babble.com by THEYCALLMECODY

1. Hugging
2. Injuries
3. Changing Diapers
4. Preparing Healthy Food
5. Keeping Kids Clean
6. Snuggling
7. Going Out And About
8. Changing Diapers
9. Preparing Healthy Food
10. Making Sick Kids Feel Better

Don't Shoot The Messenger


My initial response to the above list was to get really angry and want to defend my gender to the author of this post.  I even posted a comment on Facebook that I'm not proud of, but that was my knee-jerk reaction.  Obviously, this dad must recognize that each of the above items could easily be done effectively by either gender, right?  I decided to do a little bit of research into Cody's other writing.  From what I read, he is generally on point.  In fact, compared to his other writing, this Top 10 list felt very hastily prepared and not completely thought out.  He even recently posted about how Americans love controversy!  He is relatively new to the blogging scene, and he deserves a bit more slack than he's getting.

I felt that it was admirable that he uses his blog as a way of communicating with his wife and children since that is something he admittedly struggled with in the past.  I decided to invite him to discuss my concerns offline after I saw the negative tone running rampant in the comments section.  I was able to have a decent discussion while passing along some of my hard-learned dad blogging wisdom.  I applauded him for realizing the value of his soapbox, and I gave him a few words of caution as well.  I also encouraged him to keep writing, and that he will have at least one more follower from this experience.  I honestly believe that he has learned something from all of this, and sadly, it's probably that the blog community can be really ugly sometimes.

Bloggers are going to do what they believe will get them traffic.  That's the ultimate goal for most of them.  Unfortunately, if you happen to post the piece that sets them off, you're going to catch the bulk of the negative response.  Shrug it off, big guy!  This too shall pass.  You know your family, and you know the intention with which you wrote the article, even if it did not come across the way you intended.    

Shoot The Editor


My major complaint with this post is that Babble even let it be posted the way it was written.  A good editor would have read Cody's list and title and at least questioned the continuity of the two.  The way that the personal stories were written did not gel with the sweeping generalities of the title or sub-headings.  According to my conversation with Cody, there was no effort made to change the title to better describe the personal stories, either.  If Cody had titled the piece "Top 10 Things That My Wife Does Better Than Me" we wouldn't even be having this conversation.  

The folks at Babble definitely know that we are in the midst of the so-called "mom wars" with the recent cover of TIME magazine and the comments in the media that were directed at Ann Romney.  I believe that the editor deliberately chose to put the article out there as it was written, at the expense of the author, just to incite a virtual riot.  How do I know this?  Because they deliberately chose to promote it like this on Facebook:


I say, "Shame on YOU, Babble."  I know you have advertisers to please.  I know you have quotas to make.  However, what are you doing to move the conversation about equality in parenting FORWARD.  Why must we have constant efforts from you to pit moms against each other?  To pit dads against each other?  To pit moms against dads?  Where is the benefit besides increased page views for your site?  Even Cody's wife, Casey, knows how you guys operate.

While You're At It, Shoot The Bloggers Too


Some bloggers care deeply about what they write, and they want to be taken seriously.  I consider myself one of those bloggers.  I care deeply about issues pertaining to fatherhood and I care deeply about promoting a culture that supports and encourages involved fatherhood.  That's why I do what I do.  That is also why I chose to talk to Cody offline to see where his head was at when he wrote this piece.  He did post a reply that sort of attempts to mend fences but also calls out certain dad bloggers.  

I do hope that, if anything, Cody has learned to make sure his writing is clear and concise, saying exactly what he means while avoiding sweeping generalities.  But I hope that he also knows that a lot of dad bloggers support his effort to write for the benefit of his family, and our anger is mostly directed at Babble and not at him.  

I also hope that the dad bloggers who were particularly hateful toward this man and his family will take a minute to pause, question their actions, and ask themselves if the response they gave would be effective in accomplishing the end result of getting this blogger to write in a way that supports the cause of involved fatherhood.  I would argue that hateful responses to posts like this do little to change the perspective of the individual.  Anger has it's place, usually directed at large corporations, but let's not give ourselves a bad reputation* by tearing down our fellow brother in fatherhood.    

This article has created an overwhelming response, and I would like to share some of the better ones with you (in my opinion).  These bloggers posted responses that ask the right questions and move the conversation where it needs to be headed.

From DADCAMP 
From Go Ask Your Mother (focuses mostly on the Facebook conversation)

*I would encourage any other dad bloggers who have written about this article to post in the comments section below so that we can truly represent the supportive community that most of us love to brag about belonging to.  

Now That We Have Shot All Of The Appropriate People

I want to close with a word of encouragement to parents everywhere.  Don't let the media suck you into the "mom wars" or "dad wars" or whatever wars that are around the corner.  Other than gestation, birthing, and breastfeeding, your ability to parent is not based on your gender.  It is based solely on your own motivation and choices that you make to improve your parenting skills.  This means that there is no excuse for you not to be the best parent possible.  Learn where you are weak, practice what you lack the skill for, and don't shut down or give up trying to be better.  This also means that there is no reason your partner can't be just as good as you at parenting - they may need encouragement instead of mockery, support instead of belittling, and education instead of impatience.  

Lastly, recognize that all parents are different, and nobody has parenting completely figured out.  It would be more beneficial for us to be a community that shares our successes and our struggles while encouraging others to step up when they drop the ball, to get better when they fall short, and to get back up when life knocks them down.  Let's hug this one out and move on.  




***UPDATE*** 
Cody has replied to a friend's blog response and offered some clearer reasoning for his actions related to this post.  You can check it out HERE.

29 comments:

  1. Speaking of link bait, my next post is going to be titled Topless Pictures of Jennifer Aniston. Agreed on the initial logo of it being link bait.

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    1. I think that would probably go over well. Let me know.

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    2. Then I'll title my next one Kim and Kanye Sex Tape just for kicks.

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  2. I totally agree that Cody is not a bad guy and I don't mind that if their family works with more traditional roles I have nothing against him for that.

    I fear, however, his response seemed to miss the mark.

    He writes "I also began to notice that the controversial posts were far more popular than the posts that tried to put real meaning behind the words. The realization of what people are interested in was more of a punch in the gut than anything. I decided to title a post, “Top 10 Things Mothers Do Better Than Fathers.” It wasn’t my intention to offend fathers. It was written as a humor piece using personal examples from my own life. As someone who really didn’t have any interaction with the dad blogging community up until today, I had no idea that fathers would take offense to the post — especially not to the extent in which they did."

    So he basically says he was link baiting. If that is what he was doing he really shouldn't be surprised by the result.

    "It wasn’t my intent to offend anyone, and for that I apologize. It would be nice if we all fit into this nice little mold where everyone is the perfect parent in the manner we think every parent should be, but that’s not reality."

    It seems like he doesn't get that it wasn't because he doesn't fit into our mold. It was because he used language to suggest that his mold was how everyone else is.

    I really wish he had gotten out ahead of this and realized when the message was off he apologized and adjusted it.

    I agree that it is easy in discussions like these it is easy for the rhetoric to get out of hand. It is a lot easier to call someone names and tear them down when you are just responded to a name on a screen compared to sitting across the table from someone.

    I hope some bloggers (myself included) learned a lesson from this but I also hope Cody did. I am not convinced from his response, but that is all I have to go on. I hope I am wrong.

    Lastly, I totally agree that Babble used this to stir the pot even more with the way they promoted it on Facebook. I think Cody's language was a bad choice, but if he meant it to be personal about him and his wife, he wasn't helped by the way Babble introduced it.

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    1. It's kind of funny that his response may cause more trouble for his credibility than the initial post. In my correspondence with him, I actually recommended that he NOT apologize. He wrote what he meant, but he just didn't write it well. I also offered to read his response to give him an objective opinion, but he got it out there before he got my email with that offer. He felt the need to respond quickly since the vicious attacks had even made their way to his wife's blog. It was a response out of emotion and defense, and he didn't take the time to do it right. I agree that there is something we can all learn from this - read your post before you publish, edit your post before you publish, then have your wife read your post before you publish.

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    2. Let me be clear, he should NOT apologize for sharing his personal stories. If anything he should have apologized for choosing a poor title and perhaps a lack of preparation/execution in his writing.

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  3. I don't think they are using professional editors there.

    I know that a substantial portion of the writers are just ordinary folks they pulled from trailer parks, homeless guys off the street and that guy who lives in his mother's basement.

    Fortunately they cater to inbreds, rednecks, half wits, dopes, junkies and celtic fans who everyone know are fools to begin with.

    Good to live in interesting times my friends.

    Ah, life used to be ever so sweet.

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    1. Even the sites that I contribute to on a volunteer basis have editors that actually read the articles, so I'm sure that Babble, with a budget from Disney, has some sort of compensated editorial staff. I just believe that they are not concerned with the quality of their content. I have even seen some of them responding to the negative comments about this post and defending it using their "we cultivate a community with a broad range of opinions" bull-crap boiler plate. As for your other statements, I do know a few guys over there who are good writers and are actually concerned about moving the Dad conversation forward. Doug French comes to mind. Thanks for the comments.

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    2. I wish you wouldn't hold back so much, Jack.

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  4. I don't buy the new to blogging argument. I've written my fair share of controversial posts. I've had some serious haters. Being new as a blogger is an excuse not a reason for making a poor decision on a blog post. If he was sincere about his beginner status as the reason for his "mistake" he would have apologized right away or tried to change the blog title. Instead he has defended his work and blamed his naivety.

    Sorry dude, but if can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

    And by the way, he claims to not want to write controversial stuff but if that were true he would have killed the controversy with his post. Instead he blamed the critics which is the exact OPPOSITE of ending controversy.

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    1. I agree that it is an excuse, and I also agree that his response did little to actually silence his accusers. He just likes to learn the hard way.

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  5. I'm so tired of web sites and bloggers selling their souls for a bunch of visitors. We could all write a post that pisses someone off in order to get a shit load of views for a few days. I wish the moms, dads, dog owners, grandmas, whomever would stop falling for this crap. People like the Babble Eds are laughing at you while cashing in their diaper ad revenue. Also, the mommy and daddy blog contests follow the same idea. They get the site a bunch of views and presumably a bunch of rev. It doesn't make any mom or dad blogger better than the next. I'm guessing there is a lot of soul selling on both sides. Pageviews to bloggers are like crack to crackheads. Once they get a taste of it, they're reaching in all directions to keep it up. But in two days, you figure out that you have to come up with something MORE controversial. Be on the lookout for abortion or politics...that always does it. Or we can return to the who's worth more, a mom or a dad argument. This shit is getting old. Stop reading it. Don't give these fools another pageview.

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    1. So, when is that hilarious abortion post coming?

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  6. Oh yeah! Big hugs all around. C'mon dads! Join in. Let's stop tearing into each other personally and support each other!

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    1. Thanks for the comment. That was the spirit of my post, mainly. Put the bulk of the blame where it belongs (on the editors) and be civil in your criticism of the author. Don't resort to personal attacks on the man's family.

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  7. Totally agree. You hit the nail on the head. Babble is looking to generate page views and please advertisers. Babble is no different from any other big entity looking to make money which is probably why I never paid much attention to the post in the first place (though I did read it). But I can tell you that my first reaction was 'eh'. It didn't really phase me. I decided a long time ago that I wasn't going to be a 'daddy blogger'. I was going to be a writer. I also decided a long time ago that I would rather be respected as a writer than revered. No matter what agenda any company or website wants to push about 'parenting', I know who I am and that's all that matters.
    And, good stuff Matt. Nice piece.

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    1. Thanks for the comment. I might start a Dads Against Babble group.

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  8. Ugh. Never read the article, only heard from all the dad bloggers that have gotten their manties in a bunch over this. It's a blog post, it doesn't change the world. I know what I am capable of as a dad and I show it daily. My actions speak louder than any written words ever will. We should know by now why these things are published and it's not because the article is right, it's to drive traffic. Im sorry to say this but this whole issue is stupid and the fact that anyone is wasting their time over this is mind boggling. It doesn't change the way I am as a parent and it doesn't change the way the only three people that matter see me as a parent. My kids and my wife know what I am capable of ND that's all that matters.

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    1. I definitely agree with you, John, however, one of the things that I am committed to writing about is involved fatherhood and advocating for fathers to be seen as equal parents. When I see a site like Babble put that garbage title on a post, I have to call attention to it and cry foul. I saw one today asking if wives loved their kids more than their husbands! Ridiculous!

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  9. Good post Matt ! Read that piece in the babble & saw the mention you had. Was wondering what your comeback would be! Nice ! You put the blame where it's due !! Sound Piece!

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  10. Well done Matt. I think that all of us can get sucked into some of these created controversies as sites and/or people seek their 15 minutes of fame.

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    1. Thanks, Janice. It's very easy to do. The important thing is that we seek "justice" whenever possible. They won't change their tactics unless we demand better content.

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  11. Since you asked, I wrote about this too! Less about Cody's original post and more at the disheartening response from Babble's commenters on Facebook, where the majority answer to "What does a Mother do better than a Father?" was "Everything!"

    http://www.daddydoctrines.com/2012/05/14/babble-fans-what-are-mothers-better-at-than-dads-everything

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    1. Thanks for sharing Chris. Good points.

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  12. Good for you Matt in exposing YET again the slack and pandering work done by so-called journalists these days! When it comes to politics - there is NO journalism - just agendas!

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    1. Thanks for the comment Bruce. Loved your appearance with 8Bit Dad last Sunday. Keep up the good work.

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  13. So all the women that replied to Babble's Facebook post asking what mothers do better than fathers with the trite 'EVERYTHING', they are pretty much admitting that they married an asshole, right? And that they hate their husbands, and in turn, themselves for hitching themselves to him?

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    1. That's pretty much how I see it. See Jack's comment above.

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