(Originally published January 15, 2010 at playgroupwithsylviaplath.com)
Apparently, starting a blog these days is really just dipping the big toe in. To really make waves on the web, a friend instructed me, you have to get a domain name. And how does one actually “get a domain name”? – Well, obviously, you do it at godaddy.com, this friend assured me. Yes, I’d seen the ads during the Superbowl, lots women in skinny jeans and even tighter tank tops that say “GoDaddy” on them. Well, of course, they’re selling alphanumeric identification labels on the internet.
Which got me thinking, why does the term “daddy” connote cool, hip, and even sexy, while its partner “mommy” decidedly does not? In addition to GoDaddy, there’s Puff Daddy, sugar daddy, mac daddy, big daddy, daddy-O, daddy cool, Trick Daddy, skydaddy and who’s your daddy? (Which I’m not sure achieves its desired effect when an 8-year-old says it to you in a game of Backgammon.)
And on the other side of the not-so-equally-divided double bed, there’s Mommie Dearest, mommy wars, mommy and me, mommy track, mommybloggers, and of course PHATmommy – for those interested in parenting, homeschooling and technology.
So, why the disparity? To get to the facts, I asked an Ivy League marketing professor who specializes in identity, influence and behavior – I mean, he’d know, right? And he came right out with it, “While mommy is mainly associated with parenthood, daddy is also associated with music such as jazz and ska. Bands like Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and websites like UrbanDaddy all build off the fact that the term is associated with being knowledgeable or hip to things going on in the world.”
Subtext, “mommy” is derived from words like mother, maternal, mama, mammy and mammary gland. The word just oozes… hipness, no? Let’s face it, any term that has to do with breastfeeding should rarely be used in marketing, unless of course you’re selling a breast pump. Ever mention that term around your unmarried brother? I guarantee you a good laugh.
Sure “mommy” rules the playground set and “daddy” is king in the music world. All even. But “daddy” reigns even higher in books, television, and especially the movies (With a particularly high presence in porn. Yeah, so that search is now part of my Google history. Forever.) In sheer numbers alone – and daddy’s all about the numbers – 40 movie or television titles use the term “mommy,” while 212 have found it worth their while to use “daddy” in the title.
And now let’s take a closer look at those titles, shall we? Daddy Knows Best, My Heart Belongs to Daddy, My Daddy The Astronaut, My Wise Daddy, and My Daddy The Crocodile Hunter. Then there’s a rash of titles which would be right at home on the early 80’s afterschool special shelf: Bachelor Daddy, Daddy Puts One Over, For Sale: Daddy, Disappearing Daddy, Since Daddy Was Taken Away, Where’s Daddy, When Daddy Comes Home, and the more troubling, Daddy Left Me Alone With God. Daddy and The Muscle Academy appears to be part of the Finnish gay cinema wave.
As for mommy on the big screen? Mommy Loves Puppy, Mommy Mommy, Your Mommy Kills Animals, My Mom Works at Sears, Mommy Mommy Where’s My Brain, and my personal favorite, made for TV, Because Mommy Works.
To be fair, there is one porn series that gives the nod to mom (now the Google search minders are really confused!) – Mommy XXX: This Soccer Mom Can Handle Big Balls. There’s also a series on cable called Wife, Mom, Bounty Hunter, where you can watch a former female wrestler balance family life with running her own bail bond business in Arizona. Lastly, there’s Mommy’s Bosses that I initially misread as Mommy Bosses, which is frankly probably a more fitting title for the science fiction television episode.
So, in this literal “mommy” vs. “daddy” war (like I said, I tackle the important issues), it was pretty clear who was (can’t resist) coming out on top. I polled a few others, even talking to someone at YouTube – arbiters of everything hip, now and useless. He tried to claim that there was no difference in the two terms. “Mommybloggers are way cool,” his 23-year-old self said. I let the appropriate pause pass for him to get comfortable with his judgment, and then asked, “would you rather date someone who worked at GoDaddy or was a mommyblogger?” There was no need for a pause, “no comment.”