BY MEG THOMPSON
My one-year-old daughter and I have a ritual: every morning she wakes me up at a different time and I do whatever I can to keep her from screaming. On a recent weekday, this involved shuffling through the morning talk shows as she sat in an aluminum roasting tray and threw blocks at the television when she desired a channel change.
We started with CBS This Morning. If you aren’t familiar, this one claims to push “More Real News.” What this means is that they show snippets of news articles and discuss them. And when I say discuss, I mean they show the headline and make a few silly comments. This is the one I saw:
“Moms, Let Dad Be Dad!”
Cue instantaneous, frothing rage. Without hesitation, I threw my coffee mug at the TV.
Kidding. That’s crazy. I would never waste Maxwell House on a talk show.
There’s little need to read the article they referenced, seeing as how the headline does most of that work, but I’ll paraphrase it: Nagging, uptight buzzkills (moms) need to stop ruining everything by harping on super fun, innocuous pranksters (dads) because apparently tossing your kid into the air terrifyingly close to the ceiling fan accelerates developmental growth.
In one headline, so much of my frustration as a mother came through. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I rarely get praise as a mother. I can handle this because amongst women and specifically mothers there is an unspoken code: we are all barely surviving so we aren’t going to congratulate one another for doing the laundry AND remembering to turn on the slow cooker in the morning with a baby on your hip. The frustration comes from the fact that my partner, Todd, a stay-at-home dad, essentially developed his own fan club because he taught himself how to cook. When I tell other women this, they are prone to shrieking, “DOES HE CLEAN TOO?!” before they faint in my arms. I didn’t expect the hosts to address this particular beef I have, but I was hoping for a touch more nuance.
In all fairness, these television hosts are not in charge of advancing any equality movement. They are paid to keep their opinions repressed.
For roughly 3 billion reasons, I am not a morning talk show host. A morning talk show host is not allowed to say, “Huh. That’s interesting. Must be difficult for that editor to type headlines with his penis.” Instead, they are expected to smile broadly and chirp questions to the sole male. Were you silly with your kids? I have to believe that what they are really thinking is: Were you too busy doing laundry and worrying about your rocky, financial situation to have fun with your kids? In all fairness, these television hosts are not in charge of advancing any equality movement. They are paid to keep their opinions repressed.
For the record, I would like to point out I do silly (read: dangerous) activities with Mae all the time. I am so much fun it blurs the line between genders. Sometimes when I push her too fast in the stroller and her raptor-like shrieks echo through the park, other moms look at me and I know exactly what they’re thinking: “Wow. Someone call the police.”
The next show we watched was Live! with Kelly and Michael. If you aren’t familiar, this is the one where Kelly Ripa totters on stage in a Baby Gap outfit and Michael Strahan is a football player.
It should be noted that Kelly and Michael make a gazillion more dollars than all of us, so it makes sense when they talk they sound like people who use champagne to clean a monocle. On this particular show, they were talking about a “trend” involving women not shaving their armpits.
I looked at my daughter, nibbling on her plastic cow. If I had a son, I would be equally annoyed with these shows, but the annoyance would have a different angle. One of my goals with my daughter is that she has her own sense of strength and confidence. I hope that if someone ever tells her to shave, she laughs and goes about her day installing vermicomposting bins at microbreweries.
As we all know (because it says so in the Constitution), every time a woman doesn’t shave her underarms, the terrorists win. The woman filling in for Kelly said that since we don’t walk around in the jungle anymore with infants on our backs, clinging to our underarm hair, there is no point in letting it grow. Michael echoed these sentiments and added, “If you want to date me, you better shave.”
I looked at my daughter, nibbling on her plastic cow. If I had a son, I would be equally annoyed with these shows, but the annoyance would have a different angle. One of my goals with my daughter is that she has her own sense of strength and confidence. I hope that if someone ever tells her to shave, she laughs and goes about her day installing vermicomposting bins at microbreweries. With a son, I could only hope that he’d possess the fearless, subversive, yet spunky spirit of Jaden Smith, who I have a feeling would never frown upon a woman for not shaving.
Sometimes I wish these shows would focus on something more relevant, and inform the public about issues that actually matter, you know, like across-the-board, non-arbitrary pant sizing, the wage gap between white women and women of color, and the bizarre proposal for Harriet Tubman to share the 10 dollar bill (or, as I like to call it, the middle child of American currency). These are the issues that matter, and we need to talk about them with substance. They all deserve our attention, and to say that one matters more than the other only serves to exacerbate the problem.
I don’t have a conclusive statement or a big, happy bow to wrap this thing up with. All I can say is my dream for the future is this: one day ATMs will spew money with women on the front by the fistful and my hairy daughter will be able to withdraw as many as she wants — an equal amount as all the people standing behind her.