Boys don’t cry. – Starry Eyed
Guest Post by wordssetmefreee
When I was a homemaker (when my kids were little), I was in this playgroup of 5 kids and their parents. 4 of them were moms and there was one dad. It was my first time meeting a full time stay-at-home dad. He was completely capable and handled tantrums, diaper leaks, eating disasters, and slushy mud puddles with ease and a great sense of humor. This was about 10 years ago.
Now I meet stay-at-home dads everywhere – in my neighborhood, at work, at my kids’ school, in my support group. Some of them work from home. Some of them run businesses from home. Others take care of their little kids and the house full time.
In the last post, Chaiwallah brought up the point about a man being discriminated for being a homemaker. I do not see this discrimination as something separate (men’s suffering versus women’s suffering in patriarchy) but as connected. The more we encourage gentleness and caring in boys, the more nurturing and helpful they will be at home when they become parents. Dads doing their fair share at home supports moms’ empowerment. If men are free of stereotypes, then women are free to make more choices. If men can choose to stay at home more, then women can choose to be more career focused (in families that prefer to have this division of labor). If both parents choose to work outside the home, then both can share the housework and childcare fairly without attaching gender labels to these duties.
Here’s a sampling of some recent ads about dads. Of course, for every one of these ads, there are a 1000 others that show women in traditional roles. In reality, (if we look at stats worldwide) men have a long way to go in terms of doing their fair share at home. But, look around you. Things are changing, little by little. The fact that businesses want to spend millions of dollars positioning their products around this cultural shift means that the shift is happening. It means we are beginning to lean toward the following notions:
- gentleness, warmth, and caring don’t make a man any less of a human being
- the ability to demonstrate emotions makes a human being stronger, not weaker
- dads are not clueless at home, they can be relied on to do their part at home and keep the family running smoothly, and they can multi-task as well as moms
- housework, cooking, and cleaning are not “inferior” jobs assigned to “less capable” people (read women), they are simply – jobs that need to get done -and every person (man or woman) has to learn to do them.
Swiffer Ad – dads cleaning the house, watching kids jumping in puddles. Dad complains, “no such thing as deep couch sitting” 🙂
Dove Ad –Dads kissing, hugging, playing with their children. Dads helping kids out of stuck shirts, cleaning them after toilet use, ready to help when they’re stuck on a road, when they’re afraid of water, when they have a bad dream, when they’re distressed.
Tide – Child napping with dad.
Cheerios – A funny ad about a capable, confident dad – it’s called “How to dad” 🙂
Extra gum Origami – Dad is there with daughter through all the stages of growing.
Johnson’s – Dads comfortable conveying their love through touch, caring for their babies, being delighted in them.
And here’s a dad who’s better at cleaning than mom – because cleaning is just like any other skill – it isn’t gender specific – some people are great at it, others not so great 🙂 Some people enjoy it, others don’t.
Watching these ads, I am reminded of my childhood. My father would practice volleyball with me to help me win the matches at school. The ball would keep going over the fence and he would quickly scale the fence and get it back in a jiffy. Bonus points for teaching me as well how to scale the fence 🙂 He was also a great cook and could make the best eggplant bhajjis. He would slice them so thinly and dip them in such light batter that they would just melt in the mouth.
Please share if you had fun experiences with your dads at home doing things that break stereotypes. Also, if you have seen other nice dad ads, please share.
Do you agree that things are changing in this regard? Or do you feel they are predominantly the same? What has been your experience with your father/husband/siblings/friends/coworkers? If you’re a guy, please add how you feel about all this. Do you want to change things? Do you want to be a different kind of dad from your own (assuming your own played a traditional father’s role)?
Sharing an email.
Do you think there are some expectations here, from the mother in law? If yes, then are those expectations fair?
What if the mother in law had a career or any other interests, or health issues, and there were no other relatives, …female relatives, who could come and cook for the couple?
Who doesn’t seem to be feeling any guilt in this email? Why is that so?
I frequently visit your blog.I am an avid reader of your blog. Almost all the topics touches a chord some where.
I m writing about a problem to get suggestions and inputs from bloggers here.
I work with a MNC married for one and half year. Now I am carrying three months. Initially all was good and we both were so happy. My Mil came to take care of me.
First few weeks I was not feeling like eating. Then slowly as pregnancy progress I took interest in simple daal subji chawal but served hot. This is difficult for my Mil. She never like to cook. They have maid at home who does most of the cooking cleaning stuff.
I work in shifts so can cook only one time.
Now also due to weakness I found it is exhausting to stand and cook. But the truth is I don’t like her food. Sometimes it is good but most of the time she serve cold afternoon food.
And she won’t cook until you feel hungry.
Now I am feeling hungry too frequently.I need small stuff but in regular three four hr interval.
All these needs are not getting fulfilled.most of the time I eat office canteen food or outside snacks resulting severe gas and acidity.
Now I am cooking little things for my self but get tired soon. In all these my husband feels bad that I don’t like his mama’s food. His side is she could not cook now, still she is trying. So I should not complain. In reality I am not complaining for food. I started cooking but I complain of tiredness.
This could be a minor issue but at this time I feel like I m not getting enough nutritious food.
Otherwise I can eat all types of food. Don’t complain much.
Can anyone give valuable suggestion please.
What does Patriarchy see as the biggest threat to it’s rigid hierarchical gender stereotypes?
Dads who behave like sensitive, loving, responsible, caring parents – who don’t believe their worth as parents begins and ends at providing, controlling, disciplining and ‘protecting’.
Dads like these – who redefine ‘family’ 🙂
IT WAS the phone call that changed Peter Mercurio’s life forever, although he didn’t know it at the time.
[Link shared by M]
…Danny, was on the other end, more frantic than he had ever heard him, explaining that he had just found a baby in a New York City Subway station.
“I found a baby!” Pete recalls Danny shouting, in a piece he wrote for The New York Times. “I called 911, but I don’t think they believed me. No one’s coming. I don’t want to leave the baby alone. Get down here and flag down a police car or something.”
Falling in love with my son
“I decided to join him on the visit but I didn’t want to become attached to the baby — which meant I didn’t want to hold him. I also didn’t want to feel like we had to rescue him from a ‘bad’ home. At the home, Danny held the baby, then held him out for me to take. Reflexively, I put my arms out. The baby was in my arms. I was scared to death and trembling, but it melted my resistance. There was an instant bond.”
On the Subway ride home, Pete told Danny that he was in it with him — they were going to be parents. They named their baby Kevin.
Sharing a comment from A Reader. What do you think?
I have been married to my wife for a year and a half, and we have an infant child. I work while my wife stays home. My problem is she doesn’t like me hanging out with friends.
When I get home she gives me the silent treatment. I barely see my friends anymore — and when I do, they come here. If they stay any longer than 30 minutes, it causes a problem and my wife again won’t talk to me for the rest of the night.
I have tried to compromise, but she feels as though any time I spend away from her and the baby is a no-no. Am I wrong?
Sharing Dr Arun NM’s facebook status:
“Most of our ordinary school/ College campuses are factories for rapists with the level of sexism and restrictions to male-female interactions.
The other day Sunitha Krishnan, the renowned Social activist/rape survivor spoke in my kid’s school about violence against Women, only girls were allowed in the audience! The School authorities did not have the common sense to know that boys needed that talk much more than girls.
All of us, especially Dads, should have a heart to heart talk with their young sons about violence against women-about street sexual harassment , rape, gender equity etc etc.”
Updated to ask: What do you think were the school authorities thinking? Didn’t they think about how the boys would see this? Didn’t this convey to the boys that the responsibility of preventing rapes lay with those who did not commit rapes, and that the boys had nothing to do with prevention of rapes, and so the boys did not need to hear or understand crimes generally committed by men on (generally) women and children?