The ‘BBC’ Dad and the Mom Who Could Have Done Better
By now you’ve probably heard about the BBC Skype interview with professor Robert E. Kelly that went viral after his two small children scurried into their father’s office while he was live on air.
In response to Mr. Kelly’s work-life mishap, some folks took it upon themselves to create parodies of the incident. One of those parodies imagines how the same scene would play out if it were a mother being interviewed by BBC rather than a father.
Now I’m all for a good laugh, and the skit was very funny. But it also sold an undeniable message, one of which I and many other Americans are sick and tired of hearing.
Imbued within the satire is the explicit message that women are masters at multitasking, or at handling every aspect of life, while men are so pitiful they can only manage one thing at a time.
Male bashing in the Western world has become so commonplace we don’t even recognize it. We’ve systematically yet ever so carefully demoted our men from respected providers and protectors of the family to superfluous buffoons.
“Name a sitcom from 1970 forward that depicts a strong, responsible, intelligent father figure. Fathers in sitcoms are good-hearted, but they are also depicted as immature, dumb, lazy and incompetent. Do we seriously believe this drumbeat of messages has no impact?” writes New York Times reader Allan Bird.
It has major impact. Today’s sitcoms, and commercials, routinely paint a portrait of the idiot husband whose wife is smarter and more capable than he. This parody of the ‘BBC Dad’ is a consummate example, only it’s worse than a sitcom or commercial because it’s based on a real live dad.
Newsflash: men and women are different.
Their brains are simply wired differently. Men tend to focus on one task for a long period of time, whereas women tend to divide their attention among multiple tasks. Men also compartmentalize information, whereas women think in broader terms and lump a lot of information together.
The mistake, the travesty really, is the implication that a man’s more linear approach to life is somehow inferior than a woman’s more multifaceted nature. Nothing could be further from the truth.
A man’s ability to compartmentalize is not a weakness—it’s a strength. His ability to focus so intently is what allows him to be incredibly patient. It’s what allows him to invent things, which demands a titanic amount of concentration. It’s what allows him to stay calm in a dangerous situation and to not become easily distracted. It’s what allows him to successfully land a plane in the Hudson River after flying into a flock of geese—saving every person on board.
And the blatant disregard for men isn’t the only problem with the skit’s message. The idea that multitasking is something women succeed at every day is a myth.
Women may pride themselves on their multitasking skills, but in reality they’re “switch-tasking,” notes Dave Crenshaw in The Myth of Multitasking. They’re moving back and forth among different tasks, which “cannot overcome the brain’s inability to process two sets of information simultaneously.”
The word multitasking was at first a computer term, writes Crenshaw. “Just like your brain, the computer can’t focus on two or more things at the same time. What the processor is really doing is switching rapidly between one program and the other—giving the illusion that it’s doing it all at the same time.” Thus, multitasking is a myth.
So as “hilarious” as this latest spoof of the ‘BBC Dad’ may be, it’s important to keep in mind that it is pure propaganda. It’s designed to make you laugh, and you will. But do not ignore its undertone, for it is all too obvious: women rock, and men are hopeless.
When will the insidious war on men stop? “Feminism must end its sex war. Women do not gain by weakening men,” writes Camilla Paglia in her new book, Free Women, Free Men.
Indeed they do not—all that does is pull men and women further and further apart. The goal should be to bring us together.
The truth is, men and women are equally blessed with amazing and unique qualities that each bring to the table. Isn’t it time we stopped fussing about who brings what and simply enjoy the feast?