A few months before I started kindergarten, my parents made the decision that my dad would step up as the primary caregiver for my two siblings and me.
That resulted in him being a stay-at-home dad for a little more than 5 years; he did the laundry, cooked dinner, and made sure that the day-to-day household activities ran smoothly. He bought groceries, changed diapers, washed dishes, and got us dressed in the morning.
In that way, I learned from an early age that parenting isn’t gendered. So why does Amazon think it is?
The Problem with Amazon: Their “Mom” Program
Although Amazon ranks number 4 on the list of most admired companies in the world, there are several areas where they are sorely lacking. Most troubling to me, as a mom, Amazon user, and everyday consumer, is their low ranking in social responsibility: too often, it seems as though Amazon doesn’t care about their workers or their customers. That’s a big problem.
Take, for instance, their Amazon Mom membership program.
The program looks like this: customers receive special discounts and offers from Amazon by signing up for their premium Prime membership at the cost of $99 per year. Once customers have signed up for Prime, they’re eligible to join Amazon Mom, which offers them additional benefits: in addition to the perks of being an Amazon Prime member, Amazon Mom members receive 20% off diapers, 15% off a baby registry completion, and access to various other parent-specific products.
Here’s what Amazon has to say about the program:
“Amazon Mom is a membership program aimed at helping parents and caregivers in the prenatal through toddler years use Amazon to find and save on products their families need. Amazon Mom is open to anyone, whether you’re a mom, dad, grandparent, or caretaker.”
At first glance, this idea sounds great. What frequent Amazon shopper wouldn’t want a few discounts here and there, especially in a growing family where money is tight?
But there’s one sneaky difference between the American Amazon Mom program and the same program in other countries: in every other country where Amazon runs this program, it’s called Amazon Family.
What’s the deal, Amazon? Why are you marketing just to U.S. women with kids? If the program’s open for anyone who’s supporting a family, what’s up with its name? Are U.S. families somehow different from the ones in other countries?
Check out these stats on gender, sexuality and parenting today:
1. Only 46% of today’s households have two heterosexual parents in the home.
This is a stark difference from 50 years ago when over 80% of households contained two heterosexual parents in the home.
2. 32% of households with a working mother and preschool aged (or younger) children have fathers as the primary caregivers.
As the number of households with working mothers rises, so does the need to make sure that fathers are recognized as frequent primary caregivers of their families.
3. 28% of same sex couples are the primary caregivers of their children.
6 million American children have a LGBT parent which shows how diverse the roles of parenting are. Promoting and supporting a program that excludes 28% of its target audience isn’t acceptable.
The Solution: One Small Change Amazon Can Make Right Now
Amazon is well-positioned in its current state to take a stand and change this name—and this could be a great opportunity for Amazon to show other brands that gendered parenting is nonsense.
Instead of having an Amazon Mom program, create an incentive program for all types of parents.
It’s not as though this would be difficult to do. All Amazon would need to do is change the program’s name to Amazon Parent, or Amazon Family. If they’re already calling this same program Amazon Family in other countries, why not make the switch now, for American participants?
For me, I think of my dad: he was the one buying diapers and other “mom”-specific products in our house. So why shouldn’t he, or others like him, be able to sign up for Amazon Mom or a similar program that offers discounts for these items?
All parents, regardless of their gender, should be able to receive available discounts on products for babies and toddlers. Implying that a mom is the only consumer in the household buying these products may discourage other parental roles, whether it be a father, an aunt, or a sibling, from feeling as though they are able to take on their parenting role seriously.
Families today come in many different forms, which is not reflected in a name like Amazon Mom. The roles of fathers, grandparents, and other parental figures can’t be ignored—and women shouldn’t be saturated with language, slogans, and imagery that bind them to a single role in society.
Amazon is a large, global company whose actions can have profound effects on society. Changing the name would be another step towards gender equality, as well as parenting equality, in our society. While Amazon won’t change societal roles by changing this name, their role as the world’s largest online retailer could help increase visibility for modern parenting. Their switching this name would serve as an example to other brands of how families (and customers) today can be better recognized.
Come on, Amazon; this is an easy fix. It’s 2015, and it’s time for a more inclusive family rewards program. You’re already doing it in other countries, so why not in the U.S.?
Becca Tuck is a senior at Kennesaw State University studying Technical Communication. She’s a true crime show enthusiast, podcast junkie, and animal lover, who loves soaking in as much knowledge on linguistic phenomenons as she can. When not at the baseball fields cheering on her two favorite baseball players, you can find her on her website or on Twitter at @beccatuck85.