Even on the day meant to honor them, dads are the butt of jokes. “Humorous” Father’s Day cards rely on jokes about farting, beer drinking, and butt cracks. Fathers are portrayed as snoring in front of the TV, being less than competent at home repair, and a distant second to mothers in child-rearing. Less malicious, but still terribly stereotypical, other cards focus on golf and fishing as though it would be unheard of for a father to have any other hobbies. You never run into a card that suggests Dad might want to spend the day relaxing with a good book.
I’m not alone in seeing the sexism and inaccuracy of these portrayals of fathers. My dad has grumbled about it for years and rightly so. He was just as involved in our lives as my mom was. He spent a lot of time with his kids, playing and instructing and counseling. And he wasn’t emotionally stunted the way many dads are portrayed in the media. I talk to my dad about serious stuff because I know he’ll listen and care and not be weird. And while I think my dad is exceptional because he’s my dad, I don’t think he’s exceptional when it comes to being a good, invested parent. I know a lot of dads (my brothers, my friends’ husbands, men at church) who are anything but the bumbling, emotionally distant, lazy dads of the media. These are men who change diapers, cook meals, bandage wounds, sing lullabies, play games, give baths, comb hair, read bedtime stories, listen, and encourage. So Happy Father’s Day to all the fantastic fathers I know. May you not receive any cards suggesting that your greatest talent is flatulence.