Wired magazine June 2012

Wired Magazine’s Father’s Day Cover Flap Is Really Over No Major Faux Pas

Wired magazine June 2012 coverSome are quick to call foul over Wired’s nod to Dad for Father’s Day, though it’s about time he got his due. But any controversy here runs much deeper than this cover.

Poor Dad. Can the guy ever catch a break? If he’s not being typecast as an avid griller/golfer in Father’s Day gift guides, he’s getting another tie. So when Wired magazine tried to help him break out of that mold by celebrating its GeekDad concept on its June 2012 cover, it drew backlash from moms (and some dads).

GeekDad is Wired’s blog which focuses on puzzles, science experiments, building projects and techie stuff for kids and their dads, and this year—as a rare acknowledgement to Father’s Day—the editors placed it on the cover.

The special event companion to the cover is “GeekDad Day”—an admonition to celebrate dad in a way that doesn’t include grills or clubs or ties—through activities that help encourage a love of science and technology (even from-scratch baking) that, as an added bonus, make Dad look really cool.

But what about moms? Though they had their day last month, they took Wired to task for alienating women. And it runs deeper than the implication that women lack the tech savvy to be cool like dad; it’s also the way the magazine has portrayed women on its covers before—the infamous breasts cover, not to mention others featuring models and movie stars oozing with sexuality.

Dads of the world can counter that they’ve been treated as an afterthought for years in parenting magazines (any of them), save for a Father’s Day feature or mention around this time of year.

For publishers on both sides of the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately-in-print argument, it comes down to the almighty dollar. Moms read parenting magazines, dads don’t. And even though Wired is a general-interest magazine, guess who, based on its biggest customer base, reads it more often? Dear old Dad.

Despite recent commercials depicting dads as a little lacking in the diaper-changing department—which caused a healthy dose of controversy as well—plenty of dads are involved in their kids’ lives and plenty of dads care about parenting techniques, healthy eating and nurturing their little ones in their formative years. A Google search yields millions of blog results, by the way.

In the same vein, there are plenty of women—and moms—who love to geek out on the latest technology, science experiments and do-it-yourself building projects. To some extent, Wired has realized this with its introduction of its complementary GeekMom blog site.

It’s hard to knock Wired for acknowledging Dad in big bold letters on the cover of its June issue because, let’s face it, on what other magazine will he get his due for Father’s Day? The fear from moms and dads alike—and maybe men and women in general—that it perpetuates traditional gender roles that are more stereotypical than anything these days is understandable.

Fundamental changes in coverage and shifts in attitudes are needed, and they will come with time. But it’s not like Wired touted dads over moms for no reason. Is it too much to give Dad a break, at least in June? What do you think?