According to the radical conservative Christian right in the US feminism and gay rights are contributing to fatherlessness and will make talk of Father’s Day into hate speech.
This is totally ridiculous. These people are making stuff up in an attempt to hold on to a mythological past in which fathers paid the bills and mothers maintained spotless homes while cooking elaborate dinners and the children were seen and not heard.
There is no single definition of family and no single right way to be a parent. These are the people who have made a concerted effort to make feminism into a dirty word and convince the world that women who stand up for themselves and demand equal treatment are man-haters with hairy legs. Many of these conservatives who are trying to hold on to the world of Mad Men are women-haters who have hairy legs.
Feminism is about equality for women and since the people women are equal to are men, it is also about equality for men. Equality doesn’t work if one half of the population is more equal that the other half.
Feminism is about pushing back against these constructs that tell us that women should wear dresses and look after kids while men work 80 hours a week and acknowledge the kids on the weekends by asking them to be quiet.
Feminism is about recognizing that not all families are comprised of a married mother and father and 2.5 kids. This is of course what really irritates the people trying to hold on to this idea of family bliss.
As a feminist with hairy legs I support the goals of feminism because they lead to me being a more involved dad. If we are to achieve equality for men and women we must achieve it in all areas of life, especially when it comes to parenting. Feminism does not contribute to fatherlessness. It contributes to fatherfullness (back off that is a totally legit word) by requiring fathers to step up and be equal partners in parenting. If I am changing diapers, helping with homework, doing a puzzle with my kids, etc. it means that my partner can be doing other things that are not necessarily tied to children. She can pursue her own goals distinct from motherhood.
Engaged fathers set examples for their sons and daughters to emulate. If I show my daughters what an engaged father and equal parenting looks like by example then hopefully they will seek out partners who will be equally supportive of them and not expect them to live a June Cleaver life.
Feminism encourages women to escape from that stereotype by giving fathers space to learn and grow and break out of our own socially-defined stereotypes and be good fathers.
Likewise the Conservative fear of queer parents is totally unfounded. “Many studies have demonstrated that children’s well-being is affected much more by their relationships with their parents, their parents’ sense of competence and security, and the presence of social and economic support for the family than by the gender or the sexual orientation of their parents.”
The gay rights movement – coincidentally also about equality and breaking down stereotypes – has not hindered fatherhood in any way. In fact it has enabled men and women to become parents who might not otherwise have had that opportunity because of outdated laws restricting their ability to become parents. Of course there are still many places in the United States and throughout the world where these barriers still exist, although they are coming down.
Parenting is about stepping up. Feminism and the LBGTQ movement are about empowerment. The success of these movements depends on people stepping up. Parents need to step up for themselves, their partners and most importantly their kids. Feminism and the LBGTQ empower parents in all sorts of families to break out of stereotypes and be better parents for their kids and better supports for their fellow parents.
Feminism empowers me to step up and claim my role as a hairy-legged, engaged parent and by doing so, free my partner to pursue her passions and space as an equal.
[bctt tweet="Feminism empowers me to be a better father."]