Macho, Macho Dad: Do You Wanna Be A Macho Dad?

by Jason Toon

So, I tried to make this point humorously in the writeup for today's Jam Packed Diaper Backpack, but I think it bears thinking about in a little more detail. Before feminism (and the need for two paychecks for most families to stay afloat), not a whole lot was expected of men in the parenting department. To vastly oversimplify, Mom handled meals and clothes and diapers and homework and most of the discipline; Dad brought home the paycheck, threw the ball around, and dropped the hammer on particularly egregious misbehavior ("wait 'til your father gets home"). Childcare was woman's work. And nobody expected to sell diaper bags to men.

Now that Dads are supposed to at least try to shoulder half of the parenting load, we'll see more products like the Jam Packed Diaper Backpack. It's rugged enough to take camping. It's almost military in its profusion of pockets and straps and panels. And while it comes in pink, it also comes in hunter's orange and Henry Ford black. It's clearly aimed at people who are more interested in efficiency and durability than in cuteness.

Of course, those people could just as easily be women. Maybe it's the product of the general trend in consumer marketing to present every product as a marvel of structural engineering. It's certainly not the first product to fetishize its rather mundane materials (polyester) with impressive-sounding acronymic names (600D / PU ripstop). Maybe it's actually an acknowledgement that mothers, too, expect to be more active and rugged these days.

But I can't help feeling like at least some of the Jam Packed Diaper Backpack's appeal lies in making parenting seem a little less feminine and a lot more virile. You could say the same about those Jeep strollers (we have the side-by-side double-stroller ourselves). Have you seen any other examples of this sort of thing, or am I totally missing the point?