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Dopey Dad Day

By Mike Jeffreys 9 September 2014 39

father-son-beach-stock-080914

Now that Father’s Day is out of the way for another year, will we be spared commercials where fathers are depicted as amiable dopes? Of course not.

Advertisements where the individual previously known as “the man of the house” is portrayed as having an IQ slightly lower than the family dog are a year round phenomenon, but they seem to peak shortly before Father’s Day.

There are plenty of examples, but one in particular caught my ear while I was listening to the radio.
Pert young female voice told me that even though he’s embarrassing, I should still buy a present for Dad.

I don’t remember what the product was, but even if I could I wouldn’t mention it here, because on the off chance the sponsor happened to see it and question the agency as to whether it’s smart to ask young people to buy gifts for their fathers even though they’re an embarrassment, those agency boys would come right back with “M-a-a-a-te it’s value added – you’re getting free editorial in other media”.
Competitions in the run up to Father’s Day have been inviting listeners and viewers to submit “Dad jokes”.

The genre consists almost entirely of bad puns.

An example from one of the many “Dad joke” lists on the internet: If someone coughs, “It’s not the cough that carries you off, it’s the coffin they carry you off in”. My grandmother used to say that.
I’m not sure if she actually expected to get a laugh or just thought of it as wry wisdom. But we don’t have a category for “Granny jokes”.

Why? Not PC?

Here’s a quote from Bill Cosby: “My father established our relationship when I was seven years old. He looked at me and said, ‘You know, I brought you in this world, and I can take you out. And it don’t make no difference to me, I’ll make another one look just like you’.” Maybe his Dad really did say that but more likely Bill just made it up to raise a laugh. Either way it’s a bit too sharp edged to fit the dumb Dad category even though it is an actual joke told by an actual Dad.

There are a couple of reasons why these jokes are prefaced by the teller as “Dad jokes”.

Humour is a risky business, so if you lack the nerve to take responsibility for getting a laugh – or not – you can hedge your bets by apologizing for your joke in advance. Claiming it’s a “Dad joke” does this for you because we all know by now that Dads tell lame jokes.

Of course the question arises: why tell a joke that’s not particularly funny? Which brings us to the real reason: it’s so everyone can have a laugh at Dads for being so pathetic as to think the eye roll inducing so-called joke is genuinely funny.

Dads are apparently the only group left who can be safely stereotyped and/or ridiculed.

As you know, the argument is that humour at the expense of individuals from a defined segment of our society is demeaning and likely to make members of that segment feel angry, ostracized, unworthy, depressed and worse. But this apparently doesn’t apply to men who are also fathers?

I do understand that a great deal of advertising and program making in the MSM panders to values the creators believe will get ratings and move product.

A popular soap opera which has been running for years on TV in Australia owes its success not just to its lush scenery and attractive young actors, but also to an ethos where the only characters who really make any sense are the teenage girls. They’re followed in the hierarchy of wisdom and understanding by the adult females, then the young males and finally – a long way back – by the adult males.

As there seems no doubt that the approaches as described are successful otherwise they wouldn’t still be around, do we assume that this is where we’re at when it comes to the father pigeon hole for the 21st century?

Are we now at the stage where the ideal Dad is someone who doesn’t quite get it, should expect to be patronised but also tolerated and occasionally rewarded because he means well?

Now I’m a free speech guy. I rarely tell jokes, but that doesn’t mean I think others shouldn’t.
Tell whatever kind of joke you want as far as I’m concerned. But as a Dad, I think you should take responsibility for it yourself: don’t tell it in my name – even my group name, thanks.

And if any of my three sons bought me a present yesterday because Miss Minxy on the radio told them they should even though I’m an embarrassment, I’d be surprised and less than pleased.

What’s Your opinion?


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Dopey Dad Day
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Hoots McTaverna 1:45 pm 11 Sep 14

Maya123 said :

Hoots McTaverna said :

the fact that men are given a harder time if they want to leave work at 5pm to look after the kids, the fact that men are overrepresented in dangerous occupations and are more likely to be injured or killed on the job..

“men are given a harder time if they want to leave work at 5pm to look after the kids”
What workplace are you referring to? It wasn’t my experience of my workplace.

“men are overrepresented in dangerous occupations and are more likely to be injured or killed on the job”
That is a personal choice to work there. Any person choosing to work in a dangerous occupation takes that risk. Don’t work in those occupations if it worries you. Free will.

I feel that perhaps you think I was unnecessarily whining about how hard it is to be a man. If you read the rest of my comment I hope you’ll see my intended point that this sort of “men’s rights” whining is useless if it isn’t accompanied by a desire (and hopefully action) to overcome the toxic environment that causes the harm.

“It wasn’t my experience of my workplace”
I’m glad your workplace wasn’t like that, but mine certainly were (and I ‘ve been in a few). If indeed men and women are equally able to be absent from work to care for their kids without their careers suffering, this is a good thing and I hope you’re right.

“Don’t work in those occupations if it worries you. Free will” – I don’t work in those occupations, but many people do. The point isn’t that we are forcing them to do it. The point is that we live in a world where it’s OK to send a person to work in a job where they might get hurt or killed just so that your company can make a dollar, and the culture in many of these places is that it’s “weak” to complain. It’s that culture that needs changing. People in sweatshops making your sh!tty Target clothes might be there of their own “free will” too, but that has nothing to do with whether we should accept it.

Hoots McTaverna 1:05 pm 11 Sep 14

chewy14 said :

Hoots McTaverna said :

Men have it tough: The high suicide rate for males compared to females, the fact that men are given a harder time if they want to leave work at 5pm to look after the kids, the fact that men are overrepresented in dangerous occupations and are more likely to be injured or killed on the job.

None of these become more or less acceptable to society as a result of us laughing at dopey dad. They are, as neanderthalsis says, due to social constructs and conceptions about masculinity and manhood, just like the dopey dad character himself.

So it’s stupid wasting a drop of energy defending the “dopey dad” trend in ads or even railing against it – it’s the social constructs that need changing. A society where women aren’t just assumed to be the caregiver by default, where men aren’t assumed to be valuable to a family merely by virtue of their ability to bring home a wage, where a man with mental illness can confide in friends or coworkers without suffering social harm. Dopey dad ads wouldn’t make sense in this society. And if you would prefer to live in this fictional society, guess what: you’re a feminist.

Nope, you don’t get to co-opt people into supporting feminism like that. Feminism by its definition* is solely about removing inequalities faced by women. Byproducts of this cause may also sometimes remove inequalities faced by men but they aren’t the focus of feminism or feminists.

*assuming that the definition is actually a reflection of reality, which it often isn’t.

Feminism does indeed focus on inequalities faced by women. From your reference to “Byproducts” I doubt you would disagree that the end result of focusing on these inequalities is the overhaul of this unjust, unequal society into something that is fairer. For me personally, feminism seems to be the best way of doing that, but anyone who is pulling toward the same goal is OK in my book no matter what they call themselves.

So let me rephrase: if you would prefer to live in this fictional society where men, like women, can take time off with the kids and don’t die in their hundreds due to the “she’ll be right” culture, your enemy is our current patriarchal system that spawns inequality regardless of gender.

Maya123 12:25 pm 11 Sep 14

Hoots McTaverna said :

the fact that men are given a harder time if they want to leave work at 5pm to look after the kids, the fact that men are overrepresented in dangerous occupations and are more likely to be injured or killed on the job..

“men are given a harder time if they want to leave work at 5pm to look after the kids”
What workplace are you referring to? It wasn’t my experience of my workplace.

“men are overrepresented in dangerous occupations and are more likely to be injured or killed on the job”
That is a personal choice to work there. Any person choosing to work in a dangerous occupation takes that risk. Don’t work in those occupations if it worries you. Free will.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back 12:14 pm 11 Sep 14

justin heywood said :

Correct, we should all ‘reflect’ on the nature and impact of our privilege. But in your original post you appear to be misrepresenting the facts to support an argument, not reflecting on your own privilege at all.

Depends on what is meant by ‘privilege’. In this country, we are all privileged by global standards.

chewy14 11:54 am 11 Sep 14

Hoots McTaverna said :

Men have it tough: The high suicide rate for males compared to females, the fact that men are given a harder time if they want to leave work at 5pm to look after the kids, the fact that men are overrepresented in dangerous occupations and are more likely to be injured or killed on the job.

None of these become more or less acceptable to society as a result of us laughing at dopey dad. They are, as neanderthalsis says, due to social constructs and conceptions about masculinity and manhood, just like the dopey dad character himself.

So it’s stupid wasting a drop of energy defending the “dopey dad” trend in ads or even railing against it – it’s the social constructs that need changing. A society where women aren’t just assumed to be the caregiver by default, where men aren’t assumed to be valuable to a family merely by virtue of their ability to bring home a wage, where a man with mental illness can confide in friends or coworkers without suffering social harm. Dopey dad ads wouldn’t make sense in this society. And if you would prefer to live in this fictional society, guess what: you’re a feminist.

Nope, you don’t get to co-opt people into supporting feminism like that. Feminism by its definition* is solely about removing inequalities faced by women. Byproducts of this cause may also sometimes remove inequalities faced by men but they aren’t the focus of feminism or feminists.

*assuming that the definition is actually a reflection of reality, which it often isn’t.

justin heywood 11:40 am 11 Sep 14

Heather Lansdowne said :

Do you have any stats on middle aged men having a harder time than other cohorts finding work?

Well I did say ‘anecdotally’, but if you actually want to dive into stats, you could make a start with this AFR article
http://www.afr.com/p/opinion/sometimes_the_best_path_is_down_qVKlt4OHAZ0OSHLzt4NJWL

Heather Lansdowne said :

….So on average an Australian man has the privilege of earning 20% more than a woman for doing the same work.

I said ‘for the same work’, Heather. Your linked article does not say that women are paid less for the same work.
Nobody denies that there is a gender pay gap, but the reasons, as explained in the very article you referred to, are complex.

Heather Lansdowne said :

… I imagine many of the people reading this have some level of privilege in their lives and it doesn’t hurt to reflect on that from time to time.

Correct, we should all ‘reflect’ on the nature and impact of our privilege. But in your original post you appear to be misrepresenting the facts to support an argument, not reflecting on your own privilege at all.

Hoots McTaverna 10:34 am 11 Sep 14

Men have it tough: The high suicide rate for males compared to females, the fact that men are given a harder time if they want to leave work at 5pm to look after the kids, the fact that men are overrepresented in dangerous occupations and are more likely to be injured or killed on the job.

None of these become more or less acceptable to society as a result of us laughing at dopey dad. They are, as neanderthalsis says, due to social constructs and conceptions about masculinity and manhood, just like the dopey dad character himself.

So it’s stupid wasting a drop of energy defending the “dopey dad” trend in ads or even railing against it – it’s the social constructs that need changing. A society where women aren’t just assumed to be the caregiver by default, where men aren’t assumed to be valuable to a family merely by virtue of their ability to bring home a wage, where a man with mental illness can confide in friends or coworkers without suffering social harm. Dopey dad ads wouldn’t make sense in this society. And if you would prefer to live in this fictional society, guess what: you’re a feminist.

Ghettosmurf87 9:28 am 11 Sep 14

neanderthalsis said :

Heather Lansdowne said :

chewy14 said :

Like I’ve said previously, I might feel differently if I thought the dopey dad stereotype had potential to cause serious harm (like many other stereotypes do), does anyone have an example of this?

How about the fact that in 2012, approximately 75% of people who died by suicide were males and 25% were females. Men are three times more likely to kill themselves than women and suicide is the leading cause of death in men aged between 15 and 44. In 2011, almost double the number of men died by suicide compared to fatal car accidents. One of the main reasons for a. attempting suicide and b. not seeking help for mental health conditions is the social constructs and conceptions around masculinity and manhood.

But it is all OK, we’re just middle class privileged white males, the rest of society is allowed to ridicule us.

The fact that so many more of us men commit suicide than women is indeed disturbing, but are you really putting that statistic at the feet of the “dopey dad” stereotype? I find it hard to make the leap myself as the dopey dad stereotype doesn’t really impinge on any sense of masculinity or manhood.

It really just allows men, particularly fathers, to get away with making bad jokes that no one likes but are harmless. Typically these are groan inducing puns. Everyone else who makes these jokes gets groans too, but dads get less rubbish heaped on them for it because of the stereotype, which instead foots the blame for them.

Using your logic, we should also find that blondes, red-heads and nagging middle-aged women also have increased rates of suicide compared to otherwise equal people, correct?

neanderthalsis 8:54 am 11 Sep 14

Heather Lansdowne said :

chewy14 said :

Like I’ve said previously, I might feel differently if I thought the dopey dad stereotype had potential to cause serious harm (like many other stereotypes do), does anyone have an example of this?

How about the fact that in 2012, approximately 75% of people who died by suicide were males and 25% were females. Men are three times more likely to kill themselves than women and suicide is the leading cause of death in men aged between 15 and 44. In 2011, almost double the number of men died by suicide compared to fatal car accidents. One of the main reasons for a. attempting suicide and b. not seeking help for mental health conditions is the social constructs and conceptions around masculinity and manhood.

But it is all OK, we’re just middle class privileged white males, the rest of society is allowed to ridicule us.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back 8:43 am 11 Sep 14

Heather Lansdowne said :

Next point – The average pay gap between Australian men and women in full time employment is 20% (see page 6 https://www.wgea.gov.au/sites/default/files/2014-03-04-Gender_Pay_Gap_factsheet_website.pdf)

So on average an Australian man has the privilege of earning 20% more than a woman for doing the same work. Of course any one man does not necessarily earn 20% more than any one woman, we are looking at averages here.

Seems like quite an informative article. I’m not sure how you drew the conclusion of “for the same work” though, as I don’t think the report says that.

https://www.wgea.gov.au/about-wgea/diversity-wgea-0

Interestingly, the WGEA itself realises that it does not employ on a gender balanced basis, and is actively encouraging more men to join. At least they have recognised their own inequity and are working to address it.

Mysteryman 8:04 am 11 Sep 14

Heather Lansdowne said :

gooterz said :

Is eaening more the same as having more money? A stay at home mother has no eaening but shares her partners income.

Unfortunately I don’t have a husband to help me equalise the gender pay gap. I was kind of hoping that everyone could just be compensated fairly for the work that they do…

Men and women get paid the same for the same work, and that “pay gap” essentially describes a phenomenon where men tend to work more hours in the same role than women do, and are compensated as such.

HenryBG 7:33 am 11 Sep 14

Heather Lansdowne said :

gooterz said :

Is eaening more the same as having more money? A stay at home mother has no eaening but shares her partners income.

Unfortunately I don’t have a husband to help me equalise the gender pay gap. I was kind of hoping that everyone could just be compensated fairly for the work that they do…

No, you are calling for women to be unfairly over-compensated by being paid to a level of seniority they haven’t reached.

Heather Lansdowne 12:00 am 11 Sep 14

gooterz said :

Is eaening more the same as having more money? A stay at home mother has no eaening but shares her partners income.

Unfortunately I don’t have a husband to help me equalise the gender pay gap. I was kind of hoping that everyone could just be compensated fairly for the work that they do…

Heather Lansdowne 11:49 pm 10 Sep 14

chewy14 said :

The term “in general” does not mean “on average”. Perhaps you should choose your terms more carefully.

And still, the point of your comment could only be correct if you think all members of these groups were actually “privileged”. Otherwise your saying that its OK to denigrate disadvantaged people simply because they share a trait with some other people who might be privileged or because you might share that trait.

Equality isn’t about picking and choosing different standards for different people its about all people being treated equally and held to the same standards. Otherwise you’re simply wanting to swap one form of oppression for another.

Apologies if my wording was not clear, to me “in general” and “on average” are pretty interchageable in conversation, happy to be schooled on that if incorrect…

Like I’ve said previously, I might feel differently if I thought the dopey dad stereotype had potential to cause serious harm (like many other stereotypes do), does anyone have an example of this?

Heather Lansdowne 11:40 pm 10 Sep 14

justin heywood said :

Anecdotally it’s pretty hard for white middle aged men to find employment, they tend to die about 5 years younger than women, and if you know of a man being paid more than a woman for the same work, please enlighten me.

I’m a daggy dad who long ago gave up trying to be cool (just ask my kids). I don’t mind being laughed at, but I object to the notion that all white men are privileged and that all minorities are ‘oppressed’. Neither is true.

Do you have any stats on middle aged men having a harder time than other cohorts finding work?

Some interesting research into the difference in mortality rates between the sexes here: https://www.soa.org/news-and-publications/publications/other-publications/monographs/m-li01-1-toc.aspx A lot of the reasons observed were biological e.g. Men have higher levels of testosterone and iron which may be detrimental to longevity. Also some behavioural factors there such as higher levels of smoking and risk taking behaviours in males.

Next point – The average pay gap between Australian men and women in full time employment is 20% (see page 6 https://www.wgea.gov.au/sites/default/files/2014-03-04-Gender_Pay_Gap_factsheet_website.pdf)

So on average an Australian man has the privilege of earning 20% more than a woman for doing the same work. Of course any one man does not necessarily earn 20% more than any one woman, we are looking at averages here.

I never said that all white men are privileged and all minorities are oppressed. But I’m not so naive to assume that I’ve earned everything I’ve gotten in life. Being white, thin, educated, able bodied etc gives me a huge advantage that I don’t even notice because I’ve never experienced anything else. It shouldn’t be the case, but it is. I don’t know your situation so won’t presume to comment, but I imagine many of the people reading this have some level of privilege in their lives and it doesn’t hurt to reflect on that from time to time.

Mysteryman 9:06 am 10 Sep 14

Heather Lansdowne said :

neanderthalsis said :

So bigotry is ok as long as you’re not privileged?

I wouldn’t go that far, I’d say there are shades of grey. I suppose I’d put the dopey Dad stereotype in the harmless category though.

A bit like the dumb blonde, or the nagging shrew?

I’m sorry, but as it’s been pointed out to you by others, equality means everyone gets treated fairly, not just the people you perceive to be disadvantaged.

Maya123 8:56 am 10 Sep 14

gooterz said :

Is eaening more the same as having more money? A stay at home mother has no eaening but shares her partners income.

If he is willing to share and give out more than ‘pocket money’.

gooterz 12:27 am 10 Sep 14

Is eaening more the same as having more money? A stay at home mother has no eaening but shares her partners income.

chewy14 9:16 pm 09 Sep 14

Heather Lansdowne said :

chewy14 said :

And it’s also OK to assume that just because some members of a group are privileged it means all members of that group are.

Just being white and male guarantees you power, money and success.

Of course not, hence why I stated “men in general” are afforded privileges. There are all kinds of traits that can either help or hinder someone in our society. ON AVERAGE, yes, being white and male means you will have more money, power and success than those in other subsets of the community.

The term “in general” does not mean “on average”. Perhaps you should choose your terms more carefully.

And still, the point of your comment could only be correct if you think all members of these groups were actually “privileged”. Otherwise your saying that its OK to denigrate disadvantaged people simply because they share a trait with some other people who might be privileged or because you might share that trait.

Equality isn’t about picking and choosing different standards for different people its about all people being treated equally and held to the same standards. Otherwise you’re simply wanting to swap one form of oppression for another.

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