What’s wrong with the motherhood ad?

If you spend any time at all on social networks, you’ve probably run across this ad in which a fake job was advertised to see who would show up to do it.

You can probably see it coming. The job is parenthood. Did I say parenthood? Sorry. Motherhood. And, of course, it’s an ad for an outfit that sells greeting cards.

What’s wrong with the video?

“The video makes it sound like being a dad consists of an occasional game of catch and an awkward sex talk in comparison,” Time.com’s Charlotte Alter writes.

It also renews the debate of whether motherhood is a job.

The “World’s Toughest Job” ad is a token of appreciation, which is nice, but you’d think those 8 million views could have gone toward something that could actually help moms in a tangible way, like the Paycheck Fairness Act or more affordable childcare or workplace flexibility. But even if Cardstore.com wants to stay in the neutral warm-and-fuzzy area popular with greeting card companies, they could have at least expanded it to include the 189,000 stay-at-home dads who were their kids’ primary caregivers in 2012, or celebrated the millions of other dads who do just as much for their kids as moms do.

Not to mention that the whole idea of motherhood as a “job” is a touchy subject. That was a major weapon in the Mommy Wars, when stay-at-home mothers argued that their “jobs” were much more important than any workplace career, which was a backhanded jab at women who chose to work in an office. Since a recent Pew Study shows that the number of stay-at-home moms has increased to 29% after decades of decline (although mostly among women who can’t find jobs,) we might be seeing a resurgence of this idea.

It’s an insult to both men and women, Salon wrote this week.

Yeah, thanks for the props, but I have to say, I haven’t rolled my eyes this hard since Dove’s latest “Ladies are so gullible they think a patch can give them self-esteem!” bit. Let me break it to you gently, everybody. I don’t have the “World’s Toughest Job.” Aside from the fact that I harbor no illusions that what I do in raising my children is more difficult than, say, defusing IEDs or putting out oil fires or finding cures for cancer or being a sweatshop factory worker, I also don’t consider motherhood my job. I have a career, one that’s satisfying and challenging and for which I get paid. But being a mother isn’t a job any more than being a spouse or a daughter or a friend or, let’s not fail to mention here, a father is. Oh, it’s work, make no mistake, physically and emotionally demanding work. Work that many of us chose and love. But it isn’t a job and it sure as hell isn’t on a higher moral plane than many other forms of work.

Yet the “world’s greatest/hardest” routine is a common heart-tugging trope. During the 2012 Olympics, P&G ran a similarly themed campaign, though at least it tried the somewhat more upbeat message that “The hardest job in the world is the best job in the world.” But wrapped up in this seemingly tear-jerking message of appreciation are a lot of thoroughly messed-up ideas. Saying that motherhood is the “world’s toughest job” asserts that what mothers do is basically thankless and that they “kinda give life up” to do it. But wait! It’s also the most important and wonderful thing a woman can do. It’s terrible! It’s “inhumane”! But also noble!

And Erica Palan at the Philadelphia Magazine writes today that the martyrdom of motherhood must end.

But that doesn’t take away from the myriad other selfless and noble decisions human beings — specifically female human beings — make every single day that have nothing to do with parenthood. By positioning mothers as greater than the rest of the population, American Greetings is only underscoring the already divisive culture of moms versus everyone else. And at the end of the day, that’s just not something to celebrate with a greeting card.

Related: Soul Pancake released this one today.

And Bud Light has countered…

  • NEster

    It’s just timing. Mother’s Day is coming up. Only people that aren’t moms think it’s the world’s toughest job. This is designed to touch young adults w no kids.

  • Ed Kohler

    Assuming the job seekers in the ad were real job seekers, I hope they were well compensated for the time they spent being duped on camera.

  • Al

    No way in hell I ‘gave up my life’ when I had my daughter. What sort of expectations would I be setting for her by showing her that motherhood equals modern-day martyrdom?

  • kevinfromminneapolis

    Oh, I’m sorry an advertisement about this topic offended you. Let me console your wounded sense of the importance of your own feelings. Can I get you anything?