'By all means, cheer on that dad you see struggling to hip-hold a baby while opening the freezer door in the grocery store, but also express that same praise and helpful hand to the mother.'
Editor's note: This article was originally published on November 24, 2021. It has since been updated.
Like most mothers, Chloe Sexton is painfully aware of society's double standards when it comes to parenting. The former news producer turned baker spent 2020 building her Memphis, Tennessee–based bakery business from the ground up—all the while pregnant with her now-six-month-old baby. From purchasing, loading up and transporting hundreds of pounds of butter, sugar, flour, etc. from her local wholesaler to spending hours baking, Sexton has been doing it all herself alongside mothering baby Theodore and his older brother, Mason. While this period has seen her tackle all the challenges of being a business owner mom with a smile on her face, one experience inspired her to call out her husband's "daddy privilege"—the phenomenon when men get praised for just showing up and for doing the very basics of parenting.
In a TikTok video, Sexton shared how her husband got treated like a saint for doing a weekly errand of hers while carrying the baby. "I've got a fun little story about 'daddy privilege.' You all know if you've been following me for a while that I'm a business owner. My husband has a job. I have a business, my husband has a job. Could not make that any clearer, right? Well, my bakery requires that we buy certain wholesale ingredients at this place called Restaurant Depot every week," she says in her TikTok.
"You've seen me do videos of it before where I'm, like, wearing him (Theodore) or was massively pregnant buying 400 pounds of flour and 100 pounds of butter, and that's a weekly thing. The list goes on and on, like—it's a lot," Sexton continues. "So, last week, on the day I usually do it, my husband had the day off and he decided to go do it for me, but he also had the baby that day. When I tell you, the way that this man was treated like a hero—A HERO. Mind you, those same people see me there every single week. I was recognized by one of the cashiers. She's like, 'Hey, do you have a TikTok?' 'Yeah, yeah I do...'"
"I'm strapped up with a baby or seven months pregnant, hauling 100-pound bags at a time of flour in the back of my Subaru. Meanwhile, I'm getting a whole lotta... nothing to see here! Just a woman doing woman things, busting her ass. But my husband, my husband wears the baby and he goes to Restaurant Depot for mommy's business and it's, 'Oh my god, look at you! Oh my god, you work so hard.' He [my husband] said, 'Honestly, it was a little bit embarrassing.' Somebody walked past him and said, 'Oh my god, that's a whole-ass baby!' Yeah, it's his... He's literally not a hero. He's just a father, just a parent, doing the same sh*t I do every week," she concludes in the video.
Speaking to BuzzFeed, Sexton revealed that her husband felt weird about being overly adored for simply helping his wife run the usual errands for her business. "I'm lucky to have a husband/life partner that is a self-proclaimed feminist and outright said, 'Honestly the way they treated me was...embarrassing?' He was in as much shock about how he was treated as I was: TOTALLY NOT SHOCKED. Being married to a man who doesn't need to be taught just how deeply unfair the treatment of men vs. women in parenting roles is can be extremely relieving," she said.
"In my opinion, 'daddy privilege' is that subtle upper hand men side-step into as parents that allows them to gain praise for simply... being a parent. You fed the baby? What a great dad! You held the baby while mommy bathed? So considerate of you! You picked up something for dinner? What would your family do without you?! It's all the little ways mothers do exactly what the world expects of them without a second thought and then watch fathers get praised for simply showing up," said Sexton.
She believes it's way past time that society realized the days of men being the sole family breadwinner are over. "Women carry equal and, in some cases, majority breadwinner weight these days and still are deemed less worthy of parental praise somehow. I am a feminist to my core and will always fight for what is equal and just—today that means giving EVERY parent the same amount of attention. Every parent deserves to know that they are seen and appreciated," Sexton said. "By all means, cheer on that dad you see struggling to hip-hold a baby while opening the freezer door in the grocery store, but also express that same praise and helpful hand to the mother—who might take his place six days a week. Mothers may not need praise, but they sure as hell deserve it."