Making the headlines

This headline appeared in the Gainesville (Ga.) Times last month, and I suspect it went largely unnoticed across the nation.headline

Except at dadmarketing.

With this newspaper article is a headline which places a sexist stereotype on mom, and one that must surely offend both mom and dad in the process.

Is a mom’s place is in the kitchen?

Is it such that dads can’t cook, or manage to pack a lunch?

Everyone knows that the headline is the text indicating the nature of the article. The newspaper could have been more responsible with its duty and used a clearer, less offensive term, or rewritten it entirely. Who packs the lunch has nothing to do with the story’s main topic (which, by the way, is a good one), that schools are serving healthier meals than ones students bring from home.

Instead, we get a headline rich in stereotype.

We contacted the Times’ Life Editor, J.K. Devine, who kindly offered the following response: “The headline stemmed from an original Associated Press suggestion. It was chosen to show that lunches made at home are no longer healthier than schools. And for the majority of homes, I would say mother’s make the lunches.”

The second sentence really answers the question as to why it was chosen, but why use the mom reference? The third sentence explains that, which is an assumption based on old-fashioned labels society has created over time; it may or may not be true.

A better headline choice might have been: “School serving meals healthier than packed ones.”

All of this reminds me of the oft-used “Mr. Mom” title. Others seem to think it’s fine to typecast a stay-at-home dad as “Mr. Mom.” But no one would dare call a breadwinning, working mom by the title “Mr. Dad.” So why is it still fine to say that only moms make lunches? It’s not.

Finally, let’s not let the Associated Press off the hook. Its “suggestion” is one that categorizes, labels and stereotypes. It’s wrong.

The media plays such a powerful role in shaping our minds and attitudes, and it should know better.

And I always thought it was the media’s job to report the news, not create it.

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