Last week I was away in California for an old friend’s wedding, and a trip up and down the Pacific coast that reunited me with friends I have not seen in some time; since the revolution began in Egypt or since she moved across the country when we were 10 year-old best friends. Although I am planning a wedding of my own, all the talk of marriage and new engagements can be a bit grotesque to me. I was pleasantly surprised, however, when my childhood friend shared her engagement photos with me, a shot of her hulking wildfire-fighter fiance piggybacked onto her back, frolicking through a field. She said simply, “No need to be hetero-normative.”
NPR has been running a Men In America series that is chock-full of interesting articles, from shifting images of masculinity in pop-culture, to sports injuries, and workplace differences. One article features an interview with Stephanie Coontz, author of Marriage: A History, discussing the changing nature of relationships between men and women, and the interesting concept of the “masculine mystique”:
COONTZ: In some ways, men are still being tyrannized by the masculine mystique – the flipside of the feminine mystique that women rebelled against in the ’60s and ’70s, which says if you don’t act manly enough, we’re going to bully you. We’re going to discriminate against you. There’s been a total reversal in who reports the most work-family conflict. Back in the ’70s, women reported much higher levels of work-family conflict than men did. Today, men report higher levels of work-family conflict than women do. Employers are not willing to accommodate men very much. They get teased. They get harassed. They get denied promotions. But the good news is that men really want to spend more time with their families. They’re asking for family-friendly work policies, for leaves, for flexibility. And so this is no longer a woman’s issue. This is a men’s and women’s issue.
Another article discusses fathers’ growing desires for paternity leave, and the struggle and shame that some workplaces are causing for these men. A final piece on the topic, by Jennifer Ludden, highlights the growing community of blogging dads, breaking some of the stereotypes of being a stay at home father, and revealing the not-so-subtle role that marketing plays in this trend:
One of the first things [Brent Almond, blogger of Designer Daddy] wrote about was the baby wipes he bought at Target, called Mom to Mom. “I’m like, ‘Are we not allowed to use these?’ ” he says, laughing. “Did dads not ever use wipes?”
It has always appeared to me that the role of caretaker being consistently and solely placed on women is at the root of so much of the gender inequality in the world. Can a movement (by fathers) for fathers to become equal participants in child rearing alter gender relations on a larger scale?
–Caterina Gironda, Southern Editor
Feature image is from Jezebel article, “Dudes Can Be Good Stay-At-Home Dads, Really.” Another fun read on the topic.