Paloma Faith – ‘If a man had to do it, [motherhood] they’d drop dead’

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You may have read about Paloma Faith criticising dads in her latest round of interviews. Well, I’m not sure if ‘criticising’ is the right word. You could also chuck in ‘demeaning’ and ‘patronising’, but ‘criticising’ is a decent all-encompassing term that I’ll stick with for now. 

Paloma Faith Criticising Dads
Photo by Joshua Hayes

Promoting a campaign called Girls Get Equal, a worthy programme aimed at achieving the noble aim of gender equality (ironically), the Only Love Can Hurt Like This singer told Sky News, 

“It’s so challenging to be a mother, I think part of that has been underestimated culturally… if a man had to do it they’d drop dead, I swear. It’s bloody exhausting.”

Wow. Where do we start unpacking this? I’ll give it a go. 

Explain ‘to be a Mother’, Paloma Faith

It’s not exactly clear what she means by ‘to be a mother’. If she means giving birth, then fair enough – men are slacking off on that count. But she doesn’t. If she means breast feeding then, once again, very few men are pulling their weight in those stakes and massive respect to any woman who is lucky enough to be able to provide that for their children. Of course, many dads bottle feed their infants, but I think that’s off-topic because, once again, that’s clearly not what she’s referring to. 

Does she mean that the act of raising and nurturing a burgeoning life is ‘bloody exhausting’, then she is spot on. But men already know that because we’ve developed our own version of being a mother. We call it ‘being a father’ and very few of us have dropped dead as a direct result, Oedipus Snr. being an obvious exception.

She’s Not Completely Wrong

Pretty much all of her statement is correct, which makes the bit about dads seem like a real kick in the teeth. 

  • “Being a mother is challenging” – CHECK
  • “Mothers have been underestimated culturally” – CHECK
  • “It’s bloody exhausting” – CHECK
  • “If a man had to do it they’d drop dead” – With all due respect, SOD OFF

It’s making a vastly stupid and ill-informed comment like that which has taken all the headlines and detracted from the message she was trying to put across. It is ridiculous that, at the current rate of change, it will take 118 years to close the gender pay gap (that’s her figure, presented without evidence, but it sounds about right), but in striving for equality, the answer isn’t to try and bring down dads. 

Equality is when we stop pitching motherhood against fatherhood and begin concentrating on ‘parenthood’. It isn’t a competition to find the next Olympic gold medallist in the Parenting events (although I would love to see the 100-metre barefoot-on-Lego sprint). We should accept that parents, whatever their gender, can work tirelessly to provide for their children developmentally, economically and emotionally. 

Why Did She Say That?

I have no idea why Paloma Faith is criticising dads. Maybe she’s had a bad experience with a deadbeat father in some aspect of her life. They do exist, I’m not trying to deny that. I genuinely don’t know anything about her background and experiences, but that’s usually what colours these sorts of ill-informed views.

As humans we continually confuse anecdote with evidence. One main argument put forward by Brexiters was that immigrants take more money out of the country than they contribute, but actual research shows the opposite is true. In 2009, the crime rate in the UK fell, but 84% of people polled were certain it had risen. Just because we think and believe something doesn’t make it true.

I guess if someone has had experience of a lazy or disinterested father (theirs or someone else’s) who did not put in the effort, then that could colour their view.
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That is understandable. However, if you then broadcast that statement without fact-checking, without realising that there is a huge army of hands-on and fully involved dads, it becomes part of the accepted narrative, which is unfair and, frankly, toxic.


Stop Criticising Dads

Paloma Faith criticising dads for not being able to handle the pressures of parenting, which is essentially what she meant, is like advising people to never listen to the political musings of pop stars. Sure, I doubt Liam Gallagher could give you a balanced precis of the ramifications of quantitative easing, but that doesn’t mean that no one who belts out a tune for a living can have an opinion on the way the country runs.
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Faith made some great points about a vital cause, but then she went and spoilt it all by saying something stupid like “if a man had to do it they’d drop dead, I swear.”

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