In a recent article against a condom spec commercial, Marc Peters took to PolicyMic to lament the portrayal of fatherhood as occasionally inglorious and burdensome. The ad shows unruly children making life quite difficult for their fathers who are engaging in routine activities. Of course, kids make things difficult for mothers as well, but this is an ad for (male) condoms, most of which are purchased by men.
As anyone who’s familiar with children knows, the following scenes are hardly out of the ordinary. And after showing several exasperated fathers, the ad concludes with the warning, "Protect Yourself."
Unfortunately, in this commercial Peters sees an offensive social commentary that simply isn’t there.
For some reason he thinks the ad "paints a dystopian view of the future." In fact, there is nothing to indicate that any of this is occurring in the future, or is part of some all-encompassing dystopia. Rather, the commercial simply highlights the perils of not using protection for those who are ill-prepared for, or unwelcoming of, fatherhood. The ad's message is straightforward enough: if you're not ready to have moments like these, then you should take the steps necessary to prevent it.
But Peters doesn't see it that way. Instead, he reads all sorts of nefarious motives behind the ad, calling it "especially insulting to the 176,000 men who have left work to raise their children, and to the countless working fathers who spend their evenings changing diapers, wiping noses, and cooking meals."
Further delving into the nonexistent pro-patriarchy subtext, Peters says, "We take a giant leap backward when we, as a society, continue to present fathers as absent or full of regret, and moms as children's only caregivers."
That would be a fair criticism for some commercials, but in this case the critique is misplaced. If anything, the ad implies that it is expected that fathers are — and should be — involved in their children's lives. Hence the warning for the unready: protect yourself.
At the end of the day, this ad is designed to sell condoms by showing ill-prepared would-be fathers that parenthood carries significant responsibilities, and reminds them that kids can be a pain in the ass.