Deseret Digital Media NewsOK publishes content from Deseret Digital Media, which has a network of websites that includes KSL.com, DeseretNews.com and FamilyShare.com.

Foolish fathers: television stereotypes men, too

A recent article from The Atlantic pointed out one father's disgust with sitcom fathers, but the problem extends to other programming as well.
Chandra Johnson, Deseret News Modified: June 30, 2014 at 2:58 pm •  Published: July 1, 2014

Think gender stereotypes on TV are just for women? Think again, new dad Alexis C. Madrigal pointed out in a recent article for The Atlantic attacking the stereotype of the foolish sitcom father.

"While it may seem harmless to get a few cheap laughs at dads' expense, these characters, and their hilarious incompetence, form the culture backdrop for our society's larger discussion about the roles fathers play in families," Madrigal wrote.

Madrigal was writing about paternity leave in the U.S., but the larger problem is far from new: TV shows and commercials regularly portray the American dad as a dithering, witless fool to be mocked.

Discussion about the problem of gender stereotyping on television and in advertising is often confined to women — Time just recently composed a list of the worst offenders around Superbowl time, and there are many YouTube mash-ups dedicated to showcasing the most sexist ads from bygone eras.

Yet as Madrigal stated in his article, growing concern over the role of dads on TV has given way to new debate. Gender equality writers like Hanna Rosin have postured in the past that "the rules of fatherhood have changed a lot since the Honeymooners days." Still, the modern portrayals aren't ideal, Rosin said at a forum Madrigal attended on fatherhood at the Aspen Ideas Festival.

Continue reading this story on the...