Doyin Richards explains why Ashton Kutcher’s complaint about a lack of changing stations in men’s restrooms is a big deal
I like progress.
The perception of modern dads in America is evolving to show less of the apathetic, bumbling, emotionally-unavailable Neanderthal, and more of the loving, nurturing man who puts his family first.
Progress is being made in many places in regard to fatherhood, but there is one pesky area that still gets under my skin: the lack of changing stations in men’s restrooms. Every dad who takes the role of fatherhood seriously experienced that “Oh no” moment when he walked into a public restroom needing to change his melting down baby/toddler only to find nothing in sight to help him. No changing station in the men’s room, no family restroom, nada. It’s a complete joke.
This isn’t just a “dad issue.” It’s a parenting and equality issue. Dads are tired of channeling their inner MacGyver to diffuse diaper bombs in public. Moms are are tired of being on call to change their kids whenever they’re outside of the house. We have to do better.
But in the interest of clarity, I think it’s important to identify the enemy here.
- Businesses with no changing stations in either restroom (and no family restrooms): Unless it’s a restaurant with high chairs and/or a kid’s menu, I have no problem with them. Not every place needs to be kid-friendly.
- Businesses with no changing stations in their men’s restrooms, but have family restrooms instead: We’re good.
- Businesses with no changing stations in their men’s restrooms and no family restrooms – but have changing stations in adjacent women’s restrooms: Yeah, now we have problems.
I’m fighting the good fight for change (with mixed results). Other parents, activists, and bloggers are fighting the fight as well. Some people believe that I started the movement to have more changing tables in men’s restrooms (spoiler alert: I didn’t). Depending on the Internet circles you happen to run in, at least 15-20 people claim to have started this important cause. Whatever. The great Captain Kangaroo could be brought back from the dead to claim he started the movement for all I care. It doesn’t matter. Results rule the day, everyday.
That brings me to Mr. Kutcher. He’s a new dad with a lot of power, money, and influence – and guess what? The struggle is real for him, too. Once he voiced his frustrations on social media about the lack of changing stations in men’s restrooms, the Internet exploded and the conversation took on a life of its own. He has more followers than, well, pretty much anyone – so I wouldn’t be surprised if 99% of people in America think he is the one who started the movement for potty parity. I’m more than okay with that. Again, it doesn’t matter who started it. The guy can get results. Only a handful of people can turn the world upside-down with a seemingly innocuous tweet or Facebook post. I sure as hell can’t do that and neither can you.
Some are upset that this issue is getting such widespread attention because a celebrity is talking about it. That just completely misses the point. Why not focus on the good his influence can bring to the problem instead? The results he could achieve in a week would take a typical blogger or activist years to accomplish. That’s life, man. Stars get star treatment. There’s nothing new about that. However, the question that remains unanswered is will he use his power for the greater good of parents all over America?
So Ashton, in case you’re reading this – here’s my message to you:
I know I have no place in telling you how to run your empire – but if you really want to make a difference in the fatherhood game, I urge you to use your influence to build momentum in that arena. Keep talking about these issues, get your celebrity dad friends involved, get on nationwide talk shows, create clever hashtags to make your point, etc. If you did any of the aforementioned consistently, businesses would add changing stations in their men’s restrooms faster than you could change a blowout diaper, trust me. When you talk, people listen.
Again, I don’t know you personally – but I know this: no matter how much money you have in your bank account or how many social media followers you have, the thing that really matters to you is how you’re doing your job as a daddy to your baby girl. That’s the one thing that puts you on an equal playing field with every other good dad reading this. Sometimes society puts up annoying barriers to demotivate men who embrace fatherhood, and many of us feel powerless to knock them down. A bunch of tiny hammers doesn’t have the impact of one big-ass wrecking ball. You sir, are that proverbial big-ass wrecking ball and I’m asking you to do some (positive) damage.
Yes, we can #BeTheChange, but your assistance would make it happen much sooner.
I like progress.
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