Yesterday I had an argument with a man who felt that feminists were disrespecting him as a father. I gained a few insights from it that I thought I would share with you.
1. If you find yourself compelled to write a sentence that starts, “The problem with feminists is …” – Consider writing a different sentence. Or go for a walk or something. Make a sandwich. This is especially true if you are a man, but it’s probably good advice for everyone.
2. If you find yourself writing a sentence that includes, “I’m not some overprivileged guy, I …” – Consider writing a different sentence. As a general rule, as soon as you start denying your privilege, you’re definitely writing from a point of privilege.
3. Most importantly – Men: When you feel that your role as an active caring father is diminished or disrespected or ignored or undervalued or not-supported, the problem is patriarchy, not feminism.
Patriarchy imposes extremely limited models of accepted masculine behavior on us. Patriarchy demands that men be masters of the house (with their angels in the house). Patriarchy creates”playa” culture (with no slut-shaming to be seen for men). Patriarchy demands that a man be a disciplinarian, a coach, a commander, a dad who teaches carpentry, mechanics, and other manly skills to his (male) children.
Transgressing those boundaries comes with costs and sometimes pushback.
In the patriarchal system, there is no room for the father who operates as a partner or even as a primary caregiver. This is why men need to fight patriarchy if we want to create a more
inclusive model of masculinity. If active fathers want respect, fight patriarchy, not feminism.
I find it annoying when someone assumes my wife does all the caregiving; or, when I talk about making dinner, changing diapers, cleaning the house, organizing childcare, they react as if I were some strange mythical beast. I find certain policies inequitable (maternity leave – more on this at a later date). The costs and pushback are real and annoying.
But they pale in comparison to the pervasive, systematic, and often violent forces pushing to keep women locked within the patriarchal system. So let’s not over-react here guys.