It occurred to me that my first Progressive Dad post may have come across as playing the victim. To refresh, I said that stereotypes characterizing Dads as “lovable idiots” are obstacles to us being taken seriously as parents. I complained that Dads are often referred to as “babysitters.” I made my view clear that Dads are seen as less legitimate parents than Moms, and that this has to change. That being said …
If Dads are victimized at all, it is by a system we benefit from the most. A system we have the most power over. We are often looked down upon by our peers, ‘feminized’ by a set of ideals that also lift us up. With possible exceptions I may be forgetting, parenting is the one area in which we are not taken seriously, and this is a result of socially set gender roles that see the feminine as lesser than. A good Dad is stripped of his masculinity by other men, derided as “Mr. Mom.” As male, on the other hand, a Dad has a tremendous amount of privilege.
We live in a patriarchal world, that’s just a fact. But Dads, because it is patriarchal, we alone have the largest amount of power over it. I also said in that first post that Dads have come a long way in the last couple of decades. This is by our own efforts. Dads have not progressed through large scale social efforts, but because enough of us have come forward and proudly defied the norms set on us by other men. Many of us have, and continue to show that we are good, loving, empathetic, nurturing parents. We can change the patriarchy because, like it or not, we ARE the patriarchy. Keep doing you, being a great parent and proud of it, and the stigmas around Dadhood will continue to melt away (and as an added bonus, many other socially progressive goals will be achieved by such a change).
I will say, for my part, that I don’t get offended when I’m feminized. I’m Genderqueer, a largely subjective term that for me means my masculinity and femininity are equal parts of my identity. What I do take exception to is that people feminize me intending it as an insult. Watching my son being born was the most profound experience of my life. What my wife’s body did, growing something from a single cell to human baby in 9 months, and then spectacularly giving birth, instilled within me a newfound respect and admiration for the feminine; a life-giving power the likes of which I still don’t fully comprehend. To see that as ‘lesser than’ is disgustingly ignorant.