A Feminist Mother’s Perspective On Why Father’s Matter

There is great stuff on the site Good Men Project. I like to hear things from a woman’s perspective. Sometimes it is best for people to hear things from women because they might find it easier to hear.

What she is saying is pretty obvious to me. It is apparently not obvious to two generations of women who have been taught fathers don’t matter.


Why Dads Matter: A Feminist Mom’s Perspective – Anne Theriault


What seems most important to me is that while our son does get different things from my husband and I, those things are equal in terms of how they’re helping him to grow and develop. My husband plays a crucial role in our son’s life, and so he should.

Why, then, does it seem like society thinks so little of fathers?

You only have to turn on the TV to see how the media portrays fathers – they range from totally absent, like Meredith Grey’s father on Grey’s Anatomy, to unfeeling assholes, like John Winchester on Supernatural, to just plain ridiculous, like Homer on The Simpsons or Peter on Family Guy. The fact that we have such low expectations for dads helps explain why people treated my stay-at-home dad friend as if he was some kind of superhero, whereas I felt like just being a mom all day long without managing to keep a sparkling clean apartment or maintain a busy social calendar made me some kind of failure. It also explains why people refer to their husbands as “babysitting” their children, as if looking after their own kid was some kind of job their husbands had been hired to do.

Biology we obviously can’t change, but we, as a society, can continue to make breast pumps cheaper and more accessible to women who want to breastfeed. We can also encourage workplaces to make themselves into pumping-friendly environments, instead of asking women to pump in the washroom or only during their lunch breaks. We can renew the movement to close the gender wage gap, which seems to have lagged in recent years. Most of all, though, we can work to break down traditional gender roles, and get rid of the idea that men have no place staying at home with their children. Because, honestly, I wonder if growing up in a world where only girls are encouraged to take up babysitting as their first after-school job, where men are shunned from events like baby showers and the thought of a dude changing a diaper seems downright hilarious helped contribute to my husband’s discomfort in his early days as a parent. The plain truth was that, as a woman, I had spent far more time around babies and small children than he ever had.

Look, I’m not saying that all men should stay home all the time, or that women, even feminist women, have some kind of obligation to go back to work after having kids. And before you jump in to tell me that some women want to stay at home, and some women like traditional gender roles, trust me when I say that I already know that, and I’m totally fine with it. I don’t want to take anything away from anyone; all that I really want is for people to have choices. I want men to feel like they have an equal opportunity to be a stay at home parent. I want women to feel like they can go back to work, if that’s what they want. Most of all, I don’t want anyone to feel obligated to behave in a certain way just because of what’s between their legs.

So what does all this mean? How does any of this prove that dads matter? I’m not really sure, except that I know that they should, both because they deserve to matter, and because women and children deserve a partner and parent who is engaged and caring. I know that when we live in a society that tells us that fathers are little more than wage-earning buffoons, everyone loses out. Above all, I know that this stereotype is something that we can, and should, change. It won’t happen quickly, and it won’t happen easily but I believe that we, as a society, are up to the challenge.

I also know that my husband is a great dad, and my son and I are lucky to have him.
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