Call it the "Daddy Wars" - one Los Angeles blogger sparked them Monday when he posted a photo of him and his two daughters on social media that quickly went viral.
The controversy began on Monday when father-of-two Doyin Richards (pronounced Doe-ween), 39, currently taking a leave of absence from his job in learning development to care for his daughters, ages 2 and six months (what he calls "baby bonding"), posted a photo on Facebook and Twitter depicting a typical morning with his family.
He wrote, "One morning last week, [my wife] was running late for work and was worried that she wouldn't be able to get [my daughter's] hair done before I had to take her to school. I told her that she could leave and I'd handle it. She countered by saying that doing her hair requires attention and the baby would get upset if I left her alone while I played the role of stylist. Again, I told her that I'd handle it. On the way out she said, "I'll believe it when I see it." Still, determined, Richards placed his infant into her carrier and "worked my hair magic." He also set up his camera, enabled its 10-second timer, and snapped a photo to prove to his wife that he could handle the job.
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Richards had originally posted the photo back in October with an accompanying blog post titled, "I Have a Dream: That People Will View a Picture Like This and Not Think It's a Big Deal" but in late December, he re-posted it, and soon after, the fatherhood blog The Male Blog Project picked it up.
In a matter of hours, the photo went viral, quickly amassing nearly 5,000 shares, 3,000 comments, and 190,000 likes, along with a slew of mean-spirited comments ("He probably rented those kids. They don't even look like him," and "I would bet anything that you're a deadbeat.")
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And while, to Doyinm, the photo is simply an accurate reflection of his daily life, he understands the scrutiny - to a degree. "The picture stirs emotion for a few reasons," Richards tells Yahoo Shine. "The media doesn't portray fathers as caregivers. We're seen as bumbling fools trying to figure out parenthood or macho men pushing their kids into the NFL. The other issue is that, there's a stereotype that black fathers are deadbeats."
Despite what Richards calls "haters," he sees his role as father no different than that of a mother. He writes on his blog, "Memo to the small pocket of male haters I have: Why don't you put big boy shorts on and get in on the revolution of good fathers? It's not a good look to tear down dads for doing the work your wives wished you were man enough to do on your own. If you don't believe me, just ask your spouses. They'll tell you."
At the same time, he outright rejects any hero worship, writing, "Don't get me wrong here - it's a very cute picture, and it's cool when people say so. However, I start to get a little uncomfortable when people want to start planning parade routes for me because of it. Somewhere there's a dad doing the exact same thing for his daughters. Somewhere there's a dad who put his foot down with his boss and refused to attend an "urgent staff meeting" so he could leave work early to attend his daughter's dance recital. Somewhere there's a single dad successfully getting his three sons ready for school."
According to family and relationship expert Laurie Puhn, author of Fight Less, Love More, Richards' post packs a triple-punch that makes him a target for attention. "This is a handsome man with a good job - that offers paternity leave no less - and he seems happily married," Puhn tells Yahoo Shine. "If he were a stay-at-home father, this might not be so noteworthy but he's taking voluntarily paternity leave. What's more, he obviously enjoys it. Unfortunately, if a woman were doing the same job, no one would talk about it."
Richards agrees. He writes," Until we can get to the point where men and women can complete the same parenting tasks and the reactions are the same, we will have problems. If you want to create a statue for me for taking care of my daughters, create one for the moms who are doing the same damn thing everyday for their kids without receiving a "Thank you" or an "Ooooh" or "Ahhhh." These behaviors should be expected of moms and dads. No exceptions."
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