One of the many unexpected side-effects of parenthood is that you never get to just walk out of the house anymore. Thanks to Junior, you’re weighed down by nappies, snacks, changes of clothes, and toys. Hence the invention of the nappy bag: a straightforward item designed to, well, hold things. All fairly simple and hard to object to.
Unless you see it as some sort of attack on your masculinity, of course, like the creators of Tactical Baby Gear do – a company for “men’s men” with the tag line: “Ditch the girly diaper bag”. Tactical Baby Gear sells $80 (£60) camouflage nappy bags to men, giving them the “tools to handle some serious doodie”.
It’s easy to assume it’s all just a bit of fun – but I think it’s messed up. The entire company is founded on the idea that a man carrying a nappy bag is a bit off.
Scrolling through the company’s Instagram feed – and coming from a country where it’s illegal to carry a gun – there is something really scary about seeing picture after picture of nappy bags with assault rifles casually leaning against them. Surely guns and babies belong as far away from one another as possible? Then there’s this, the most baffling promo for a company ever.
There are some things TBG could be commended for – they’ve spotted a gap in the market and seem really enthusiastic about fatherhood – plus their eagerness for baby carriers makes them, in one respect at least, more enlightened than Piers Morgan with his controversial take on papooses.
[Read More: Dads Are Proving Piers Morgan Wrong On Papooses]
And they offer discounts to members of the armed forces and emergency services, which is at least putting their money where their mouths are. But does enthusiasm about being a father have to be seen in opposition to womanhood? Can’t you love being a dad without worrying it’s somehow making you less masculine, and therefore worth less in the eyes of other men?
One of the brand’s adverts, which features the genuinely spine-chilling sight of a man in a children’s playground wielding an assault rifle, begins with him being asked to look after his child for the day. Why? To make sure nobody accidentally thinks these dads are doing anything as feminine as, like, caring for their kids without being made to by the women in their lives?
Keen to find out what the guys over at Tactical Baby Gear had to say, we sent them Paulie Doyle’s tweet. “Tactical Baby Gear respects any person’s opinion regarding our niche of products,” they responded. “Promoting a ‘malignant conception of masculinity’, as he has stated, could not be further from our company’s mission.
“We believe that providing a product that makes any parent more involved in his or her child’s life is a positive. It is our hope that men be enthusiastically involved in the childrearing process, and we have set out to develop products to foster that attitude. In a market where many products are female-oriented, Tactical Baby Gear hopes to offer men and fathers-to-be a modern, rugged option for a diaper bag.”
If you ask me, the fragile masculinity vibe of the whole thing is just weird – on the one hand portraying yourself as warrior-man, on the other being terrified someone might see you carrying a pink or purple bag around. You’d imagine the kinds of people that play with guns all day would be a bit more robust than that.