I wish the magazine Parenting would just go the full shot and rename itself Mothering; it’s never too late to be honest.
It’s a magazine by women, about women, and for women, with only a few obligatory Man Ghettos, a page or two on which fathers rear their dense and uncomprehending heads. I won’t bore you with comparative page counts or (follow the money!) an analysis of the advertising: more tampons than pickup trucks (and the latter at least can be gender neutral).
Recent advice on their website makes no bones about their attitude toward fathers.
In a Q&A on “Play Date Etiquette,” we get the following quandary and response:
The Sitch: You’ve accepted a sleepover invite for your daughter, not realizing that only her pal’s divorced dad will be home. You’re not okay with it. What to do?
The Solution: “Call and say ‘I’m sorry, and this is about me and not you, but I just don’t feel comfortable with a man supervising an overnighter,’ ” says Paone. Offer to host the girls at your place instead, if you can, or ask to turn the sleepover into a “late-over,” where your daughter stays only till bedtime. In the future, always ask who’ll be on duty before you say yes to a sleepover.
Let’s play substitution and see how this holds up. How about:
“I’m sorry—me, not you—we’re not comfortable having our daughter supervised by Jews/Blacks/Asians/Latinos.”
No, no, no, no—I understand! This is different. The issue is functionalist. It’s not personal, we just know that men are inept with kids.
So how about. . .
“I’m sorry, but we’re going to have to withdraw from the carpool. It wasn’t clear going in that women were permitted to drive the cars. I’m not judging, you understand. It’s just that these are fairly complicated machines and when women get all dithery, I just feel that’s too much of a danger to my daughter.”
So. . . yeah. As a former stay at home dad (the acronym is SAHD; ‘nuff said), as an equally sharing parent with a sixteen-year-old daughter, I’m thin-skinned and persnickety.
But who is really hurt by this? M-O-T-H-E-R-S.
It’s actually not much of a victory if women want to argue that only they can care for kids.
Because then. . . only they can care for kids. If they want to have families, their only option is to see how much of a working life they can shoehorn in around doing all the parenting.
Dads can just come home, put their feet up and have a beer.
What’s going on here is an oddly self-lacerating territorial scuffle.
In the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, when women were fighting their way into professional schools, workplaces, and other formerly male-dominated bastions, they were gaining ground.
Gaining feels good.
Yielding. . . that’s more complicated.
But if women want a truly level playing field in the professional sphere, they have to yield some ground in the domestic sphere.
It’s unfair to berate men and say “we can’t trust you with kids, because you’re not part of the parenting circle,” while at the same time saying, “we can’t let you into the parenting circle, because we can’t trust you with kids.”
Know what I’m saying?