Women Aren’t Perfect and Men Aren’t Incompetent
I really loved the BBC video last week where the guy was doing a live broadcast and his kids entered. I loved it for that first kid’s dance she did as she entered the room. Everyone should aspire to internally (or, frankly, externally) do that dance at some point in their day.
What I didn’t love were the various parody videos, especially the one that showed a woman on air, feeding a baby, cooking a chicken, and tending to the laundry, all while running through her talking points. Yes, I’m aware that it’s a parody. I’ve already been told that I need to lighten up when I talked about it on Facebook.
But comedy is a trick thing. Sometimes we laugh because we recognize a universal truth, and other times we laugh because the piece has pointed out something we never realized. And sometimes we don’t laugh because the parody misses the mark on both counts. There’s a big difference between comedy that moves the conversation forward vs. comedy that moves the conversation backwards.
It’s hard to laugh when it’s the latter option.
Men — totally incompetent, amiright? That bumbling dad in the original video put out his arm in his panic and stammered around. If a woman had been in that chair, she would have executed dance-like grace, scooping up the child without missing a beat and using the moment to deliver a witty bon mot about work-life balance.
Except she wouldn’t have.
The parody is unfunny on so many different levels. For every woman who struggles to get everything done, implying that real women have it all together makes them feel like shit. I don’t know about you, but I do not operate like the woman in that video. Does that make me as bad as the man in the original video? Do I lose my woman card?
For every woman who would like to be known for something more than her child-rearing, meal-cooking, laundry-doing skills, it sticks our socially prescribed roles front and center. Do you remember anything she said? I’m guessing not because the focus was on the bottle feeding, chicken-sniffing, lint-brushing actions. Sure, the portrayal is flattering on the surface — she’s supermum! — until you realize that you didn’t listen to anything she was saying due to the distracting exterior. It’s a gotcha! moment; you think it’s women empowerment… but it’s not.
For every man who does an excellent job co-parenting (or, in some cases, single parenting) their kids, it turns them into a bumbling fool who can’t take care of the kids OR matching their socks. How did that man get through life before marrying that smart, savvy, accomplished woman? Or, the alternative is that we look at the man in the original video, who was doing the best job he could in the moment, and sneer at his inability to somehow stay the course when everything is going off track.
I don’t like being reduced to a stereotype — mostly because it makes me feel like crap about myself because I really don’t fit that calm, cool, collected supermum stereotype — nor do I like to reduce other people to a stereotype. And that’s where the conversation went this week in terms of the roles of men and women (not to mention the various other discussions that came out of commentary on that video). I want to blow those stereotypes out of the water; not reinforce them. Even when it’s just a parody video.