I put some real thought into whether I should revive The Most Mentally Sexy Dad Dad Competition this year but decided against it.
I could see there was some very visible changes occurring at the grass roots level in Australia that made me think the goals of the competition – to celebrate men who rejected gender stereotypes, and to normalise men in the domestic/caring role – were being achieved in other ways.
The Most Mentally Sexy Aussie Daddy Bloggers
When I first started blogging, as a stay-at-home Dad, back in 2008 I battled a real sense of isolation and had to confront a host of daily cues that implied I didn’t belong on the domestic frontline and wasn’t suited to the role of full-time carer for my boys.
During the working week, I was lucky to see even one other Dad at a playground, shopping centre, playgroup, kindergarten, childcare centre, swimming pool or any other child-related place or activity. When I took one of the boys to a doctor or maternal health nurse it was clear by their responses that I was an oddity. If I went there with Reservoir Mum the questions about our kids were always directed towards her, even when it was pointed out that I was the stay-at-home parent.
The Mentally Sexy Competition was a direct challenge to that experience. I may have been a little pissed off when I got it going, maybe even a little insecure about my place in the world, but the comp did something really positive that went way beyond my little blog.
Dads – whether they were stay-at-homers, full-time away from home, part-time or whatever – were bragging about getting up to babies at night, changing nappies, putting their careers aside to be with their family, mopping the floor and hanging out the washing. Wives and partners were bragging about their family-focussed men. (See contestants here)
Through the Mentally Sexy Comp, hands-on Dads were making the major newspapers, National TV and radio, and were discussed in a dozen different forums. It ended with the announcement of the 2011 winner on Radio National Life Matters. When the host Richard Aedy said he had seen a positive change in the acceptance of men in the caring role and gave the competition credit as a major contributor, I got a real buzz.
Now, over six years after I started my first day as a stay-at-home Dad, it’s no longer unusual to see a man pushing a pram or picking up kids from school and kindergartens (a few weeks ago I counted 9 men and 12 women when picking up Tyson from kinder), and it’s not so uncommon to hear men talking to other men about baby and child-related topics and men are much less likely to be met with that look of surprise when they take their children to the maternal health nurse. There’s even a show called House Husbands winning Logies (that still has a few stereotypes to iron out).
On a grass roots level the change is obvious and awesome but there are still some obvious areas of resistance.
Product manufacturers and advertisers are not moving with the times and are still falling back on the gender stereotypes to make sales. The dopey Dad is still on the telly being rescued by the eye-rolling Mum and when I walk down the baby aisle at a supermarket I still see mostly women adorning the products there, and there are still gender-exclusive brand names like ‘Mother’s Choice’.
To address this directly and indirectly we have the emergence of a very public, proud (and slightly crazy) group of men who have been called ‘Daddy Bloggers’.
When I first created the ‘Greatest Aussie Daddy Bloggers Of All Time’ list, there was a total of six Dads blogging. It grew to 17 a few years later. I’m expecting to include several more when I update the list in the next month.
This year already, several of the bloggers on that list have appeared in major Newspapers and magazines, hosted panels at major blogging conferences, spoken on several radio stations and even been signed to Blog Agents who work directly with major brands.
This week two TV crews will be visiting the homes of five Dads and Aussie Daddy Bloggers. Hundreds of thousands of households in Australia will see more pictures of hands-on Dads rejecting gender-stereotypes.
It’s a society-changing message and an attitude that’s roaring forward and it’s only a matter of time –with this kind of representation – before the brands and advertisers get the message as well
*If you know of any other Dads who blog who don’t appear on THIS LIST please leave me a comment or email firstname.lastname@example.org