Earlier this week, Amazon made an important, but not entirely unexpected, change: The company renamed its parental subscription program, Amazon Mom, Amazon Family. (Didn’t hear about it? It’s OK; the company went about making the switch as unceremoniously and silently as possible.)
The change comes about after months of heavy campaigning by dads and — yes — even moms everywhere, and more than two years after Oren Miller, stay-at-home-dad and dad blogger, brought attention to a change.org petition which asked Amazon to give their American program the same name its international counterparts had. (Yup, that’s right: Amazon Family isn’t new; it has existed in every other country Amazon does business for years.) While the petition garnered close to 14,000 signatures, it wasn’t until Miller’s passing earlier this year that the campaign truly kicked into high gear. And while Amazon has not officially acknowledged the change was brought about by the petition (or pressure) they have stated “the new name matches the company’s practice in other countries…we are transitioning Amazon Mom to Amazon Family because the name better reflects the program[‘s]” family-oriented focus.
Heck yeah! Can a I get a whoop-whoop? Maybe….no?
OK, here’s the thing: some will argue this change is stupid and pointless. Mom? Family? Who cares?! We arguing semantics, for Christ sake. Aren’t there are more pressing matters in the world? (And, yes, there are.) But this change is about more than words; it is about sending a message. It is about changing the perception of “parenthood” in our society. It is about shattering the sexist stereotypes many of us still hold — whether we realize it or not — and it is about breaking down gender barriers in a small but imperative way.
Because words are powerful. As George Orwell once said, “if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought,” and according to Chris Routly, President of the National At-Home Dad Network, that is precisely why this change was necessary. “Keeping the name ‘mom’ was sending out a pretty loud message what Amazon thought about family and gender roles,” Routly said. “We saw it as an opportunity for them to send a strong message about what modern families look like. That’s why it was important.”
And this change isn’t just beneficial to dads, parents, and caretakers, but to all American men and women. You see, by leaving the programs title “Amazon Mom,” Amazon was indirectly reinforcing gender expectations…for all. They were reinforcing the belief that women are the ones caring for kids: they are the ones shopping and searching sales, “staying at home” and “toning up” (not my words, Amazon’s) while men are the ones working. They are the ones playing with their kids but not the ones changing — or buying — their diapers.
So kudos, Amazon. This may be a small change — in the grand scheme of things, and in the great gender discussion — but your efforts make one big and bold statement.