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Friday, June 25, 2010

Comments

Lara aka Adequate Parent

Wonderful piece. My motto is "There might be a mommy war, but there is no draft." Nobody can rope me into wasting my time bickering about other people's lives. And they couldn't get my husband to either.
Sincerely,
The Adequate Parent www.adequateparenting.com

Cameon Phillips

I embrace the overall gist of your argument—there is no cookie cutter solution that works for everyone. We should all feel free to make the choices that suit us and our families.

The problem in for men as we all seek (or don’t) our own level of work life balance is that there are a lot of factors that take that choice away from us, or at the very least, make it extraordinarily difficult.

Want to be an at home dad? It’s really hard to do if you out-earn your wife (as most men still do as we only pay women .75 cents for every dollar men earn.)

Want to take parental leave? I know a father in Alberta who is in a legal battle with his employer to take parental leave.

Want to job share? Is your employer willing to let you do so? I’ve heard from men who say men job sharing is frowned upon even though many women in the same offices do it.

There is a myriad of other forces: the incompetent dad in pop culture, gatekeeping mothers, workplace culture which endorses presenteeism and largely sees dads as one dimensional breadwinners. All these elements work to keep us all in our traditional gender roles.

The fight that looms for men is to be seen as equally competent care giving fathers and not somehow a failure for putting family time ahead of career. We still have a lot of shattering to do when it comes workplace culture and gaining access to the same policies and flexibility that has generally been afforded to women. Women started this battle years ago, and as you point out, we are all beholden to them for fighting to break down traditional gender roles. However, the end of feminism won’t come the day that women are free to choose career or motherhood (or both) without the fear of being judged or discriminated against, it will come when men can do the same. If a woman is going to put career first, a man has to make the transition to house husband and stay at home dad with the same ease. We aren’t there yet.

That’s what men need to fight for—being seen by all of society as equally competent, responsible and loving care givers. We need society to recognize our value as a parent as equally valuable to our kids as is a mother’s love and have that reflected in social and workplace policy. Whether others will take advantage of the changes that come about as a result is moot.

Kel Moore

Women have fought to break down traditional gender roles? Really? Okay, which women? The women who wear 5 inch heels, or the women who read Cosmopolitan magazine? Oh, and could you tell me if any traditional gender roles are still allowed? Like is it okay to be heterosexual? Because that seems to assume that the sexes are different which is what traditional sex roles are all about. So I guess we have to give up being attracted to the opposite sex? Are we still allowed to wear gender based clothing?

"If a woman is going to put her career first, a man has to make the transition to house husband and stay at home dad with the same ease."

WTF! Are you insane? If a woman decides to put her career first, then you're saying a husband has no choice but to stay home. Really? Is that a law? Does the same apply to a woman whose husband decides to put his career first, that his wife has no choice but to stay at home? How did you come up with this bizarre formulation? What if by some bizarre coincidence, they both want careers?

Cameon Phillips

Kel,

I think you entirely missed the point of my response or I wasn't clear enough.

To respond to two points:

When my mom went to college in 1959, she was expected to come out a nurse, secretary or a teacher--everything else was considered "man's work". Her generation fought to be taken seriously as doctors, lawyers, politicians, athletes, and a gazillion other careers. Today a young girl can grow up to be whatever she wants thanks to the women of my mom’s generation and the women who followed. It was called the Women's Lib movement--perhaps you've heard of it.

When I talk about "breaking down traditional gender roles" and “equality” I'm not advocating androgyny. Nor am I talking about eliminating the obvious differences between men and women. What I'm talking about is eliminating the old fashioned role assignment that says "You are a woman; you should be first and foremost a mother. You are a man; you should be first and foremost a breadwinner." During the time I was an at home father, I cringed every time someone said to me, "Oh, giving mom the day off?" or "Babysitting today, are we?" "No," I would say, "I'm not babysitting, I'm being a parent!"

As for your questioning my sanity, perhaps I could have avoided that by being more clear and adding three words: “should be allowed.”

"If a woman is going to put her career first, a man SHOULD BE ALLOWED to make the transition to house husband and stay at home dad with the same ease." I’m not advocating in any way whatsoever that if one parent works, the other has to stay at home.

Right now, it is still harder, for a variety of reasons, for men to be at home dads (if that is what they and their family want to do.) The other point I was trying to make is that we might some day come to a place where society lets a woman be an at home mother or a career woman without passing any sort of judgment on her. However, the attempt to strive for true equality between the sexes won't be complete until a man can also have the same freedom and ease to choose between at home father or working dad.

I hope that helps.

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