‘I think it’s important to see the non-inclusive language that is all around us’
Are moms the only ones who go to the grocery store with small children? This is a question a man’s tweet is making us ask this week. Of course, the answer is “no.” It’s 2017, and men do the shopping, too. So it may be time for a little update to those grocery store parking lot signs that give preferred parking to mothers and their children.
Canadian father Justin Simard was at his local supermarket on Monday when he pulled into a parking spot reserved for parents. The only problem was the sign reads “Expecting Mothers” and “Mothers with Small Children.” Simard snapped a picture of himself and his 9-month-old son in front of the sign and posted it to Twitter saying, “Crap, am I allowed to park here? #notababysitter #dadissues.” He tagged the grocery store, Sobeys in Stratford, Prince Edward Island, in the post.
At first, Simard didn’t think much of the sign. He told HuffPost that he originally thought,”Oh good, a place to park that isn’t too far from the door while I’m with my son.” An encounter with a fellow shopper made him pause. “When I went to get out of my car, the person in the spot next to me gave me a dirty look, which quickly vanished when I took my son out of his car seat,” the dad explained. “Then the wording of the sign bothered me. What about single fathers? What about same sex couples? It occurred to me that the sign could be more inclusive.”
Obviously, the sign is outdated and only needs a simple fix: replace mothers with parents. It seems like a no brainer, but several brands have had to recently rename their various parent focused projects because they all screamed Mommy before. For example, the Amazon Mom program switched to Amazon Family two years ago and Today Moms was revamped as Today Parents in 2014. And it looks like Sobeys is well on its way to more inclusive programs as well. The store tweeted back to Simard saying, “You are definitely entitled to that parking spot, Justin! Which location was this so we can update the signage? #SuperDad.” They even sent a follow-up tweet that read: “And thank you for letting us know! #selfiesFTW We’ll see you both in store :)”
While not every brand gets it right 100% of the time, it is nice to see one handle legitimate criticism well. “I was blown away. The reply was almost immediate, and had exactly the tone I hope to find on social media ― that is to say, I felt like a human being, being answered by a human being who could see my point of view,” Simard shared. The grocery store also told HuffPost that it is considering updating its signage. “All expectant mothers and parents of small children are welcome to park in the expectant parents parking spots in all our Sobeys stores,” a company rep said. “We will continue to look at this in the future and thank the customer for bringing it to our attention.”
Simard’s pretty happy with the outcome but hopes to see more companies and people work to be more inclusive. “My hope is that the sign was simply an echo of a thoughtless sexism that insists that raising children is ‘women’s work,’ and that people will realize that raising children is ‘parent’s work,’” the dad said. “Blatant sexism is easy to denounce, but I think it’s important to see the non-inclusive language that is all around us, recognize it, and replace it.”