Welcome to part 1 of my gender stereotypes series.
Gender stereotypes from the male perspective.
In part one, I’ll be opening with a brief look at the problem of male gender stereotypes from the perspective of the stay-at-home Dad.
Having never been a man’s man, more comfortable in the company of women; and lately a SAHD (stay at home dad), I’ve witnessed a lot gender stereotyping and discrimination from both sexes. Just recently an infamous “feminist” blogger made the accusation that ALL Dad bloggers are predators and can’t be good parents because they’ve never had a child ripped out of them. This comes after another blogging mama and self-published author stated on twitter (and in her blog) that no men are ever victims and male victims of domestic violence ‘must deserve it’ (imagine a man saying that).
It’s got me thinking how in many ways, men are victims of gender stereotypes too. Not in the same ways as women, maybe not even as extreme, but we too are struggling to break free from stereotypical gender roles and it’s women as well as men helping it to stay that way.
Here’s a fact.
Men AND women face discrimination in life that needs to be challenged. It shouldn’t be a gender war. It should be solidarity of moral people against assholes of any gender. Right now, it’s not.
men are trapped in gender stereotypes!
Consider the infamous blogger above (and people like her), they complain that men still aren’t doing their share of home chores and childcare but then complain if they do, by saying they are weird or some kind of ‘predator’ for being a stay at home dad. So which way do you want it? If you’re going to abuse men with sweeping defamatory statements for taking part, you can’t complain when men then don’t want to .
So here then are some of the issues that i’ve come across as a man.
Problems for the stay at home dad.
As a stay at home dad, I’ve spoken to many dad’s who are truly co-parenting. Unfortunately we’ve all experienced the following :
Ostracism in the playground from the mums.
When taking your children to medical appointments.
Being asked for the mother’s opinion, signature or agreement; rather than just speaking to the father. Doesn’t happen the other way around. We’re just as competent you know.
Strangers can sometimes be suspicious:
When you turn up to the park or other childcare settings with your kids in tow. Many Dad’s have been approached with variations of; ‘We’ve noticed you come to this play park a lot, why are you here’? Answer: ‘I’M HERE WITH MY KIDS, JUST LIKE YOU’ !
Periods of depression amongst SAHD’S are higher than amongst SAHM’s.
Probably due to dad’s subconsciously feeling like they are still trapped in the gender stereotype of needing to be the one to be the breadwinner and being ostracised for trying to break the mould and doing what they feel is right for their families.
On the flip side; women feel stressed out.
They can feel the need to achieve EVERYTHING and this affects relationships. It may end up with the woman coming back home and the man going back to work. This can lead to both parents feeling like ‘failures’. The gender roles may then go back to the more traditional; with neither partner being happy about it.
Serious bullying or even gentle ribbing from the guys (and even the women in your lives).
That you are somehow lesser men or less worthwhile for not being a ‘provider’. Being told you the ‘woman’.
- Recently I was in a counselling session when the ‘coordinator’ found out that I was a SAHD. He casually announced that my depression and anxiety was probably due to feeling emasculated. By not being able to be the breadwinner. Thus unconsciously reconfirming the gender stereotype; that my wife being the breadwinner is wrong. Actually I’ve never been happier and my wife is thriving in a job she is extremely good at. Don’t make that assumption.
Many men find that when changing roles, they’ll do things slightly different at home. At first, it can drive the partner who used to be at home mad. They’re used to doing things their way. A partner who is now at home all the time will want to do things slightly different. I’ve had to realise that, as it’s me at home all day I do have a right to try things my way (and it won’t always be the right way) but I need to be mindful of how this can come across to the person now at work. You’re not saying the other person’s way of doing things was wrong, just that we’re different and a fresh pair of eyes can see things differently. It’s not always seen that way though. Likewise, if you’re the one who is no longer the primary stay at home parent, you’ve got to let go a little. It’s not fair. Don’t be a control freak. Their work, their way. At least try to come to an understanding.
All these examples above may seem minor (even go unnoticed). But together with a million other little things, it’s just going to make men feel like they can’t break the mold. And the sad thing is, that in our experience, it’s as much women reinforcing this as men. How are women going to challenge gender roles when any men that want to shake things up are shamed or discouraged out of it?
What gender stereotypes, problems or issues have you come across as a father?
Comments below. Or come and chat at @askyerfather .
Next week I’ll be taking a look at gender pay inequality and paternity leave. See you then.