Being a new father myself, I imagined myself in the same scenario—working fifty or sixty hours a week to make ends meet, then coming home to do home repairs, yard work, and so on. I realized that such a scenario wouldn’t actually leave much time for me to spend with my child. But then it hit me, that’s exactly the point, I’m not supposed to be doing that—that’s the woman’s job.
In America right now, and especially during this political season, there are two images being portrayed as to what our society should look like; what it really means to be an “American.” Many are suggesting that we need to go back to the “good old days.” What does that really mean? At least in the context of the family, when some speak of “traditional family values,” what they mean is the dad working and the mom staying at home with the kids. Leave it to Beaver is the model of the true American family, the ways things should be.
Well, I decided I don’t want to be that kind of man. I want to be a part of my child’s rearing; I want to help change her diapers, feed her during the night, and take her on walks. If I’m working fifty hours a week, working in the yard, and doing repairs around the house I can’t do as much as that as I want. So I’m left with a choice, abandon the traditional image of what being a father looks like in society or miss out on bonding opportunities with my daughter. Sure, many traditionalists are going to question my status as a good man because I don’t do all the things they expect me to do (work, work, work), but so be it.
You may be wondering what this has to do with feminism—everything! It was/is the feminists who continually challenge the status quo, the ways things “used to be,” the good old days. It’s feminists who point out that a patriarchal society only works for the men. It’s the feminists who say it’s ok for me to be the father I want to be. Think about that, I as a man am actually reaping the reward from the hard work of thousands of women over the years who have sought the end of a patriarchal society of “traditional family values.”
More so, I have the assurance that I can encourage my daughter as she grows up to do whatever she sets her mind to—no need to worry that only certain careers open to her or that she’ll automatically be considered lower than a man is intellect and capability. Yes, there still is far too much gender discrimination, but I’m thankful for how far we’ve come.
So, thanks to all the feminists and others who struggle to change the status quo! I fully support you and am with you as we continue to work to bring equality and opportunity to all people.