Fed-Up Dads Push Back Against Amazon Mom Service
We don’t need another viewing of Three Men and a Baby to know that men and women are equally capable of feeding an infant, changing diapers, or getting a toddler dressed—which is what makes the branding of Amazon Mom, the retail behemoth’s child-centric savings program, so confusing. Fed-up dads and their supporters have pushed back against the name since the program’s launch in 2010, but the recent death of a prominent dad blogger has reinvigorated the effort to get Amazon to adopt a more inclusive name: Amazon Family.
“We’re picking up the campaign in Oren’s honor and seeing it through,” says Portland, Oregon, stay-at-home father Chris Routly. He documents the ups and downs of raising his two young sons at his blog Daddy Doctrines. Over the past few years Routly and Oren Miller, a dad who created the popular blog Blogger and a Father, had both written about and collaborated with other parenting bloggers to get Amazon to change its mom-centric branding of the program. Miller’s death on Saturday from lung cancer at 42 reinvigorated Routly and a slew of other moms and dads to call out Amazon’s gender stereotyping.
“I think they called it ‘Amazon Mom’ initially because they didn’t think it through,” says Routly. According to the About Amazon Mom Web page, “Amazon Mom is open to anyone, whether you’re a mom, dad, grandparent, or caretaker.”
Back in 2013, Miller wrote a post in which he skewered Amazon Mom’s promotional emails to him, which were addressed “Dear Mom.” He noted that Amazon didn’t even need to come up with a new name, because across the pond in the U.K., where the discount program began, it is called Amazon Family. Ultimately, wrote Miller, the problem isn’t just about a name. “It’s about a company that looks at the U.S., then looks at England, and then decides that over there, parent equals mom or dad, while here, well, we’re not ready for that yet.”
The program has since expanded to other countries, where Amazon also calls it Amazon Family. Despite that, the company hasn’t indicated plans to switch to a more inclusive name in the United States.
“I’m guessing the company has numbers which indicated that women should still be their primary marketing target, which is understandable,” says Routly. But he doubts “moms would quit the program if it’s not called Amazon Mom anymore.” And the name could be seen as offensive too, because it implies that women are the ones who should be in charge of taking care of the kids.
The dad-blogger community frequently calls out negative representations of fathers in the media—Routly helped spearhead a backlash against Huggies over its 2012 “Have Dad Put Huggies to the Test” diaper advertisement. But while the Amazon Mom name is “definitely leaving out dads,” Routly says the branding is also detrimental to mothers.
“It’s a backhanded compliment,” he says. The name Amazon Mom “discriminates against women [because] it says that they’re the ones that really need to be caring for the kids. That it’s really their job.” Given that families are much more diverse, the name “is just as much an insult to moms as it is to dads—or to single parents or to gay couples,” Routly says.
Supporters of the campaign are tweeting using the hashtag #AmazonFamilyUS and posting on Amazon’s Facebook page. Routly and other advocates are also encouraging people to sign a Change.org petition that asks Amazon to change the program’s name to Amazon Family. “But how much that petition will matter to Amazon is up to Amazon,” he says.
So far, says Routly, there’s been no response from the company. “They’ve gone radio silent,” he says. “I’m hoping that that’s an indication that there are positive conversations going on behind the scenes and that they’ll be coming out with a statement that says they’re going to change the name.”