It’s bothered me for a while now that The New York Times, my go-to source for print news, calls its parenting blog The Motherlode. The site isn’t aimed only at mothers.
The metaphor is obvious the term mother lode literally refers to a vein of precious minerals or ore, and The New York Times‘ parenting blog is certainly flush with great content about kids and parents and the challenge to balance professional and personal goals. Its tagline, “Adventures in Parenting,” is apt — the blog posts relate to and discus issues that pertain to moms and dads alike, and include pieces from both genders.
As I write this, of the 13 posts on the blog’s front page (not counting 2 plugs for content that appears elsewhere on The New York Times site), 11 are by women and 2 by men. One dad writes about his child’s addiction, and another about his experience as a dad blogger at the Mom 2.0 Summit. Clicking on the “older entries” link reveals a page of 12 posts, 1 of which is by a man. So, while men are by far in the minority on the site, their voices are included, their perspectives shared and given equal validity to women’s points-of-view. What’s more, dad blogs are included on the Motherlode’s blogroll, called “Motherlode Must Reads”. (As is Babble.)
So why doesn’t The New York Times change the blog’s name to a gender neutral term?
I know it would mean losing the metaphor, which would be sad. But while I don’t read The Wall Street Journal, I do like the title of their parenting blog much better: The Juggle. Both the blog’s title and its tagline, “WSJ.com on choices and tradeoffs people make as they juggle work and family,” relate to parenting in general and not maternity or paternity specifically.
Slate’s The Double X Factor blog, which refers to the two X’s of women’s chromosomes, and bares the tagline “What women really think,” also features men authors, but the focus stays on women’s issues and the role of women in culture, the workplace, and the family. There, the name fits the content.
My problem with The Motherlode is that its content is truly gender-neutral, while its title is not. And just as I wrote (as have many) about advertisers’ responsibility in depicting dads more realistically, so too do media outlets have a responsibility to include dads in the parenting conversation and do so in a welcoming manner.
Engaged, active dads, not to mention stay-at-home dads like myself, face enough prejudice from traditional male sexists who see them as feminine for contributing to house chores and childcare. This negatively can drip into internal pressures because these dads are choosing different roles than the ones that their fathers played, or that they see portrayed by men in the culture at large. At least, that’s been the case in my experience, and with many of the awesome dads I know. It takes a strong sense of self, and a positive self-image, to fight cultural stereotypes. Visiting a site called The Motherlode perpetuates these issues by equating parenting with motherhood.
Aren’t there better metaphors out there for a wealth of information? The Parent Trove? Family Lore? I don’t know. I only know that as an engaged and active dad, and an avid reader, I don’t like The Motherlode. Or, I like reading it, I just don’t like what it’s called!