So I didn't really think that there would be no like-minded fathers and mothers in the world, esp in New York City, but this article was heartening regardless. Drielsma presents cogently the point I have been trying to make about semantics and fatherhood sans the vulgarity and misanthropy. And I would have to say I agree with him completely and I am now much more wary of taking the kid out to parent & child functions lest we be outcasts trying to insert our penises where they don't belong. (See with the vulgarity). Now I have yet to get the baby sitting line but I was asked in Whole Foods if the kid in the stroller in front of me was mine before being give bad and unsolicited parenting advice. I think a resounding "fuck you" will be my rejoinded when the time comes.
Given that I agree with the article, why is it that I bring it up here in my own fancy forum? The comments, the reception, the reactions of the unwashed masses. Now the reason I don't regularly follow Lisa Belkin's blog is not her writing, or her content, but rather the infuriating nature of the reader comments. Gina follows it though and passed this one along.
The commentary on this post was, for the most part, better than the norm. The majority of the comments professed either agreement with the need for equal parenting and for language to reflect that or agreement with equal parenting and the absurd notion that language doesn't matter. There were only a few old school misogynists that still felt that men should never stoop to caring for a kid and a few new school misandrynists that want to keep parenting a girls only club. The misogynists barely deserve mention because their opinions have largerly been dismissed as outliers for a while now. The misandrynists are another matter. Aparently it remains acceptable for women to insult men for not parenting (good fathering measured in how much a man "helps out" in this women's realm, and especially by counting diapers changed) and then emasculating them when they do. Like a hypocritical Annie Oakley: "Anything you can do I can do better, but there ain't no way you're raising the kid." The door swings both ways. The biological necessity of women raising children passed away with the advent of bottle-feeding (whether formula or pumped breast milk). And with that women entered into the workplace freed from the burdens of biological imperatives. Excellent. Now men are returning to the home freed from the burdens of social expectation.
And then there was the issue of language. If you think words don't matter try telling a gay couple that there is no difference between a marriage, a civil union, and a registered domestic partnership. Language matters. Language reinforces culture. If you call a father a "babysitter" or a "Mr. Mom" it is going to paint him into a secondary role, make him a second class parent. Similarly if a female executive is always a "female executive" before she is an "executive" she will never be able to rise to the level of her male peers. Just as female executives are not members of a subordinate class of executive, fathers are not of a subordinant class of parent. In fact, this whole thing is making me start to rethink my dislike of the term "partner" because the positive connotations are really starting to outweigh the hassle of the ensuing confusion.
And so to close with a thought to compliment Drielsma closing line: is Dr. Jacobson a man or a woman?
I could go into more depth and there is a whole tangent about the language of education that this topic has spurred but I will save that for later. Stay tuned for a guest post from the kid's mother and her whole take.
P.S. : A father who doesn't change his kid's diapers is a bad father. Period. Unless he has no hands.