The 7-month-old has been given a picture book titled Baby Bunny (Campbell, 2011). In the book, Baby Bunny is being taught by Mummy Bunny how to dig, nibble and jump. Baby Bunny is not identified as girl or boy, but the parental unit is of course female. Duh, when did guys ever care about babies? Or bunnies, except perhaps the Playboy kind? Especially after a published study correlated involved fathers with having smaller balls, maybe dads with bigger egos just won’t give a damn anymore. When it sounds to be such a disincentive being a family man, why should men even learn how to change nappies?
It’s all the more reason that dads should have space in multicultural, gender-neutral picture books to deconstruct the image of the distant/absent father. The blurb’s claim of a “simple, reassuring story” casts women to the role of devoted motherhood. It seems trivial to comment on a picture book when sexism the world over gets women belittled, abused, and raped (in more ways than one). But by erasing fathers from the metanarrative of parenthood, and with unavailing science supporting this idea, the burden of raising kids (probably the hardest task in the world) falls squarely on the woman alone. And then when the family falls short of anything but ideal, the blaming and shaming are solely hers as well to own.
If I have to teach the baby one thing, it’s to demand for equality. Along with, and even if it has, the associated inconveniences.
P.S. If books are edible, could we choke on words?