Imagine launching a crowdfunding campaign to ask strangers to pay you an income for parenting.
You can’t? Me either.
Most stay-at-home mothers may lament that their work is unpaid and undervalued, but they wouldn’t for a moment suppose that their plight would motivate people to open their hearts or their wallets.
But US father Adam Dolgin felt a little more entitled than your average stay-at-home parent, recently offering his services to the crowdfunders of the interwebs as a stay-at-home dad and daddy blogger at Fodder4Fathers.com.
For the not-so-small fee of US$50,000, Dolgin would stay at home for a year and gift us all with his wit and wisdom about the experience.
As Dolgin’s page on gofundme.com explains, the aim of the venture is to challenge media images of fathers as “bubbling buffoons” [sic].
He went on: “I’d like to leave the corporate world behind for a year to take on the role of stay-at-home parent with my kids, and prove once and for all that anything moms can do DADS can do equally.
“One year to chronicle my life doing the hardest, most rewarding job in the world and doing it well.”
Not surprisingly, the reaction to Dolgin’s campaign was less than enthusiastic. Commenters on his gofundme.com page ranged from “YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME?!” to “My dad stayed home with me and he managed to do it without debasing himself like a damn fool or acting just like one of those ‘buffoons from the media’ by begging for money or acting like raising his own kid was something so extraordinary and kooky”.
The outrage was understandable enough. While it’s great that a dad wants to stay at home, why does it have to be a competition with mothers? Dolgin’s snarky comment “that anything moms can do DADS can do equally” just turns parenting into a pissing contest.
And given that the term ‘mummy blogger’ is often used condescendingly to devalue women’s opinions, experiences and online writing, it’s a bit rich to expect that a man’s musing about parenthood is so valuable that he should be paid for it – by strangers, no less.
Thirty dollars and lots of angry comments later, Dolgin reduced his funding goal to $10 and changed his story to something a little less embarrassing. He claimed the whole thing had been a “social experiment” and a “dare” from the word go.
The whole ruse, apparently, was part of an ongoing campaign by Dolgin to, as he put it, “point out the ridiculousness of how people react to things online, from circumcision to bed sharing to vaccinations and now this [the crowd-funding campaign].”
He claims he was “interested in people’s reaction to it – their biases, their hypocrisy and well, what gets noticed on the Internet”.
“The biases are clear here,” he stated. “If this was in support of a woman trying to get back in to the workforce and chronicling it would have been met with a lot more kindness.”
I’m doubtful. Kindness is rarely the first emotion extended to mothers on the mummy war battlefield – let alone those who blog about their lives with their children.
As far as social experiments go, “Help me (well, pay me) to be a stay-at-home dad” is pretty lame. Asking people to support an outrageous cause in order to provoke outrage – and then provoking said outrage – is hardly the stuff of which great social experiments are made. I highly doubt that in 50 years social psychologists (or anyone else for that matter) will be talking about ‘Dolgin’s Law of Online Outrage’.
The irony is that Dolgin has ended up looking like the very thing he claimed to be fighting against – the image of the bumbling, clueless father.
Although, viewed from another perspective, and taking Dolgin’s campaign at face value, is it so crazy to want to be paid for the ceaseless, invaluable and skilled work or parenting?
Deliberately or not, Dolgin’s campaign is acknowledgement, in a roundabout kind of way, that parenting is work worthy of payment.
But asking strangers to empty their wallets to help a lone dad fund his stay-at-home lifestyle isn’t really going to cut it. We think it’s time to head back to the drawing board, Dolgin.