Thoughts from a SAHD

On how differently he is treated when he’s doing exactly the same job as any full-time mum, and nothing more than women have done forever.

Treating us much the same will be real equality. And it will be much harder than you think, I bet.

That’s a sucker bet, I reckon.

Categories: gender & feminism, relationships

Tags: ,

6 replies

  1. OK, I’m curious now. Does that mean that women will be venerated to the same level that men are when they stay home with their kids, or that men will be looked at as “just a househusband?”
    How would “real equality” work, anyhow?

  2. What a good question, Vicki. I wonder, too, how that would work.
    This reminds me of how amazed I am every time a father is with his children and it’s termed “babysitting.” I just can’t get used to that.
    Marjorie’s last blog post..Give a Mother a Break

  3. Eep! I forgot to include the link to the post! I didn’t mean to be quite that cryptic, sorry.
    Hero, god, saint, fulltime dad…
    (I’ve fixed it in the post now, too.)

  4. “Does that mean that women will be venerated to the same level that men are when they stay home with their kids, or that men will be looked at as “just a househusband?”
    It is a good question, Vicki. If fact it gets to the heart of it.
    What I was writing about is the need less for any absolute, consistent ‘desirable attitude’ towards SAH parenthood in toto, and more the need to eradicate the disparity b/w the way I’m treated as a SAH dad, and the way SAH mothers are treated, by the same people. Often in the same group conversation, even.
    I don’t think feminism can or should be trying to impose any ‘optimum’ fixed attitude towards the SAH domestic worker. I know some SAH parents, men and women, who are actually dull, chip-on-the-shoulder, passive-aggressive bores with the whole parenting deal. Even I find myself wanting them to shut up about their horrible little sprogs and the Great Societal Sacrifice they are making to wrangle them into adulthood. I also know some childless professionals who are quite unapologetically – and quite legitimately – underwhelmed by the kid thing in its entirety, and have neither the desire nor the authentic emotional vocabulary to wax lyrical about any SAH parent, man or woman. I think it’s self-defeating trying to articulate, much less prescribe, any set desired attitude towards ‘parenthood’, including and especially the SAH full-timer.
    What is possible and desirable is to attack the disparity b/w the way the same individuals relate to SAH mothers and fathers. I have no real ‘problem’ with, for example, someone who dismisses me as slightly irrelevant and invisible at my wife’s professional functions, say, because I’m a stay-at-home dad (I mean I do, but it’s not one I’d expect feminism/identity politics to see as its remit). Where the feminist problem lies – still – is in the fact that it only rarely does happen to me, even though it still happens all the time to mothers. That’s the gender inequality in play here, and I think it’s very damaging to the feminist project, too, because, like at least some aspects of the sexual revolution, someone being nice to a SAH dad (but still ghastly to a SAH mum) never-the-less looks ‘feminist’; it misrepresents what is really just another victory for men as a major progressive shift in attitudes. So, for example, most of my mates are ‘right-on’ SNAGgy dues, they think it’s way cool that Jack’s a fulltime dad. That some of them still regard fulltime mothers, including their own wives, as mere domestic add-ons, simply goes on not registering. They don’t quite make the obvious ‘a-ha!’ connection.
    I know I should protest more, or make some bold stand of principle when I’m complimented for doing what’s been a simple no-option imperative for women for millennia…but like I said, you tend to grab at (and milk) any little pat on the back you can get in this biz, don’t you. For shame, Jack!
    Of course it would be nice if SAH mothers were generally treated with more intellectual respect. But if someone (male or female) does just happen to find parenthood (male and female) completely bloody boring, I don’t think we should force them to extend such respect, anyway. If that’s how they feel, there should be no societal pressure on them to not dismiss stay-at-home parents. There should be maximum societal pressure on holding them to their views in a consistent way, whether they’re being bored by a SAH mother or a SAH father.
    Sorry about the comment length, and thanks again for the trackback, tigtog.

  5. Mmm, I remember seeing a story about single dads on Today Tonight (it’s seems the wives hadn’t left but had died). Anyway, these blokes were referred to as “heroes”.

  6. Well, sole parenting is not quite the same thing as being a SAHP with a partner to moan at.
    Widows have always been viewed differently from “single mums”, too. Of course it’s not logical: sole parenting is sole parenting, no matter what path it’s arrived at.
    But yeah, we rarely hear about single mums being heroes.

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