An anti-dad bias?

Finally, someone pointed it out: Dads are portrayed as helpless creatures when it comes to the issue of parenting.

In an NPR commentary, novelist and critic Louis Bayard takes the New York Times to task for yesterday’s article on the panic that ensues when a working mother travels for work.

It carried nuggets like this:

Peace of mind for working mothers who have to travel comes in all sorts of forms. While working fathers who go away on business may use some of the same tactics, mothers are often the ones laying out their children’s skating outfits and freezing extra dinners before they leave town.

Ms. Smith, whose Web site is called MomTini Lounge, said children thrive on routine and structure, “so moms who travel try to minimize the disruption at home.” She said she jettisons any unnecessary commitments like play dates to streamline the family schedule as much as possible while she is away.

That’s too much for Bayard:

It’s not the world I live in — the one where every day, competent hands-on fathers (married, partnered, single) navigate their children from point to point without mishap. But then it’s not the world anyone lives in. With more and more women serving as primary wage-earners and more and more men serving as primary caregivers, it’s only logical that the organizing intelligence behind any given household might actually have a Y chromosome.

So how has this news failed to reach the major cultural organs? It’s one thing when Huggies puts out a series of ads showing dads unmanned by the mere prospect of a diaper. It’s pretty much the identical thing — subtler but no less pernicious — when a champion of bourgeois values like the Times beats the same dead horse.

And if anything, the Times article shows how harmful the anti-dad bias can be to women. I was amused at first to see the logistical extremes Weed’s supermoms go to whenever they leave town: ordering drugstore supplies online, canceling play dates in advance, laying out skating outfits and freezing a week’s worth of meals and leaving a list of “all the carpools, sports practices and games, babysitter hours” and anything else their husbands might need.

The comments section of the Times’ article, by the way, reveals a land foreign to the reporter — a land where men and kids can figure out how to survive:

I have to admit that I may roll my eyes and mutter under my breath at some of the things my husband does or doesn’t do, but, geesh, the man can find the grocery store or, if all else fails (and I’m the one more likely to resort to this), a restaurant. Freezer full of frozen (home cooked!) dinners? Come on!

Another commenter notes that her husband is fully capable making dinner and taking care of the kids, and then notes the family’s nanny seems to agree.