The New York Times is apologizing for a silly article posted this weekend about how fathers in one New Jersey suburb coped with the hardships of child rearing while their wives attended the Women’s March on Saturday. The article, “How Vital Are Women? This Town Found Out as They Left to March,” read more like a satire piece from The Onion and was swiftly and harshly mocked on social media.
By Monday morning, the Times was walking it back. Metro editor Wendell Jamiseon tweeted “okay we blew it on this one. mea culpa” and told the Huffington Post the piece “was a bad idea from the get-go. It was conceived with the best intentions, but it fell flat. And I regret it.”
The article laid out painful details about how affluent dads in Montclair, New Jersey had to manage their children’s hectic social schedules while the town’s oppressed mommies donned their Canada Goose parkas and Aquatalia boots to march against President Donald Trump (median family income in Montclair: $127,000).
The gals filled up on chai tea lattes before boarding buses for our nation’s capital or driving their Range Rovers to the NYC protest, leaving behind a town marred with empty yoga studios, deserted Whole Foods stores, and clueless, inept men struggling to put hair in ponytails—damn, these baby Uggs are hard to get on!—while counting down to cocktail hour. Since 84 percent of the town’s residents voted for Hillary Clinton, that meant: “Routines were radically altered, and many fathers tried to meet weekend demands alone for a change. By participating in the marches and highlighting the importance of women’s rights, the women also demonstrated, in towns like Montclair, their importance just by their absence.”
Childcare: The ‘Cornerstone of Equal Rights’
According to the logic of the reporter, freelancer Filip Bondy, these empowered women left their mark by disappearing into Manhattan for a few hours and forcing their husbands to do the lacrosse team carpool. Madonna would be so proud! (Bondy also apologized on Twitter, saying “Mea culpa. I treated child care lightly, and it is the cornerstone of equal rights.”) Here’s a better nut graph: “Their nonexistence at home that day also reflected the nonexistent inequality the moms were marching against.”
One dad actually had the guts to say as much: “I did have to laugh at the irony of my wife marching for equality in New York while I was missing the game and cleaning out the refrigerator,” said sport writer Steve Politi, quickly making himself the most unpopular husband in Montclair.
The piece also touched on how Montclair parents are proudly instilling in their children a “distrust” of our new president: “‘In our house, we call him the Stinker,’ Mr. (Scott) Keddy said of the president. ‘We’ve explained to the girls what the significance of the march is. I haven’t quite expanded yet on the notion of impeachment.’” Don’t worry, Scott, maybe you can work that into a bedtime story next time mommy goes to Bunco.
We’re So Equal With Our Idiot Men
The problem with the article is not, as the reporter suggested, a misfire on child care and equal rights. The problem is that, like so many portrayals of fathers in modern culture, it caricatured them, mocking their general uselessness and fecklessness. It also overestimates the tedious yet not-brain-surgery tasks we moms have to perform daily (I’ve been doing it for more than 16 years, so spare me the hyperbolic lectures about how tough it is for affluent stay-at-home moms to manage children; we’re the lucky ones), and painted these presumably smart men as dumdums who can’t tie a pair of shoes.
But instead of defending men as dutiful fathers perfectly capable of handling a few miniature human beings for eight hours, many women were angry and offended that the article wasn’t about them and their courageous protesting. Some even heaped on more ridicule, suggesting the men should get participation trophies for tasking kids on a Saturday. “Shoutout to the brave men of Montclair who valiantly parented their own kids this weekend. You’re the real heroes,” tweeted Andi Zeisler, editor of Bitch Media.
Sadly, even though the Times article was intended to be cheeky and complimentary of moms, it actually reflected much of the tone of the Women’s March. It was as much anti-men as it was pro-women. Sign after sign showed general contempt for men, with women proclaiming their “power” over them, that weak men are afraid of strong women, that men can’t be trusted or believed. Some women brought their sons and made them carry signs saying “boys will be boys,” with the last word crossed out and replaced with “good humans.”
Pollster Frank Luntz, who was covering the march, was verbally assaulted by a woman protestor. He tweeted out a warning for people to avoid one hotel: “Marriott Marquis lobby is full of drunk, angry protestors harassing paying customers. If you’re still in DC, avoid this area.” He emotionally told Fox News the next day how a woman confronted him, called him a “facist m-ther f—ker,” and threw confetti in his face twice. “These protests are out of control, the language is out of control, there are 8, 9, 10 year-olds watching this thing, reading these horrible words from these signs…I never thought this would be America.”
Yup, here’s your new America. Privileged women who are still angry their candidate lost protest an imaginary world of inequality and oppression while the country’s major newspaper mocks their husbands who presumably play some important role in making their comfortable lives possible. I sure hope the country doesn’t run out of Xanax any time soon.