It’s no secret that I am perhaps the most… peculiar person at my office.
No, not just because I’m the token vegan, or the guy that refuses to use microwaves, or because I go mountain biking during my lunch break.
I’m also the guy that likes to unleash subliminal social experiments among my coworkers.
Last Friday, the new monthly coupon advertisements were delivered to the break room, featuring discounts for local businesses.
One of them is for a lodge-themed restaurant featuring scantily clad young women as the waitresses, who on the ad, all looked so happy to be wearing so little flannel. (Not to mention, the name of the restaurant is a play on words that is definitely not discreet about what part of the female body it is alluding to.)
I remember about a year ago, when word came out that the fairly new “breastaurant” chain was moving to the very Republican part of Nashville my office is located. There were people evidently trying to boycott that from happening.
As for me, the token Libertarian of the office, my stance was that if the free market financially supports a corny, degrading-to-women restaurant like that, then let it be.
Turns out, there are enough customers willing to support the place to keep it alive and well, because, afterall… “The food is really good there!” I am told.
Here’s where I’m going with this story: I am raising you to see women as… women. Not objects. I’m raising you to see them as somebody’s daughters.
Just to subliminally reinforce this concept to my coworkers, I printed out in size 10 font, the phrase “A.K.A. Somebody’s Daughters,” then cut it out and taped it underneath the restaurant’s logo and the picture of the uniformed models used for the ad.
When word finally got around this week who was behind the prank, because after all, everyone in the office saw those coupons laying there on the table all week, some were surprised it was me: A happily married 32 year-old man with a 3 year-old son.
I responded by saying, “What- did you assume it was an ultraconversative feminist?” (Whatever that means.)
Nope, it was a guy, who is raising his son to treat women with respect. I want to raise you as one less willing customer for a restaurant like that… no matter how good the “food” is.
On second thought, maybe I really am an ultraconservative feminist… if male Libertarians are allowed to be them?
P.S. This is one of those letters that is to be reserved for when you’re older. But while I’ve got it on my mind, I wanted to give you this “life advice” today and I’ll just bookmark it for when the time is right for you to hear it. In the mean time, enjoy the simple life of being a 3 year-old, please!
It was a sort of liberating experience a few weeks ago at the Nashville Zoo, to realize A) that in addition to carrying around my son’s diaper bag, sort of like a purse, I was also actuallytoting my wife’s purse and B) I was strangely okay with that.
If you know me in the least little bit, you know how it’s simply my nature to ask deep, random questions both in real life and on Facebook, like “What is the male equivalent of a feminist?”
The first answer I received confirmed my own preconceived answer: “Wouldn’t that be a male chauvinist?” (It was a female who said that.)
The second response I got confirmed my own understanding of what feminism simply is:
“Good feminism: a movement to eliminate gender-based discrimination against females; promote fairness and equality previously not experienced by females in society; and expand the gender roles of females beyond traditionally accepted roles which previously limited their contributions, productivity, and value to society.”
By the way, it was a guy, Mike Zeigler, who gave that answer. He went on to further explain my frustrations with the kind of feminism that annoys me:
“Bad feminism: a movement to revolt against the male gender and usurp their position of dominance to the extent that women achieve complete dominance and precedence over men, thereby emasculating and feminizing men in the process.”
Meanwhile in the land of Twitter, fellow daddy blogger Zach Rosenberg of 8-Bit Dad gave an answer that caught me by surprise. I never thought of this, but I think he’s on to something:
“A feminist. Men, especially fathers, make the best feminists.”
What if the answer to my question is that simple? The male equivalent of a feminist is a man who himself is a feminist.
Look back to that paragraph defining “good feminism.” That’s what I believe in, support, and depend on. How can I not back feminism like that? I’m married to a woman and we have a son together.
If that’s not the kind of movement I am a fan of, then I am simply irrelevant as a modern dad. Therefore, in all seriousness, I consider myself a feminist.
Let’s back up again, though- all the way to the title. Why was it necessary for me to specify “heterosexual” dad?
The main reason is that as a heterosexual man, I can not relate to the social injustices that women, as well as homosexuals, have encountered throughout history.
To make matters worse, I happen to be middle class and white. Clearly, I do not represent a minority in any traditional sense: not for my gender, race, income level, nor sexual orientation.
Quite possibly, I am demographically the most unpitied stereotype in America. So for me to claim to be a feminist, it’s natural to assume I’m joking or making light of the subject; attempting to be ironic for a canned laugh. But I’m not.
It may not count for much, but for the simple fact that corporately sponsored daddy bloggers are extremely rare and I just happen to be one of them, representing the many dedicated dads out there who truly aren’t male chauvinists, maybe I actually do know a thing or two about being part of a minority.
When I think of a feminist, I think of stereotypes like Jessie Spano from Saved By the Bell or the bookstore owners on Portlandia. I don’t really know what else to go on.
To make matters worse, no one can or is willing to define feminism for me. The answers I got when I asked people on Facebook were either A) “there is no one definition” or B) “you should read [so-and-so] book.”
So not only can no one tell me what it is, but I’m still left with stereotypes that no one seems to necessarily defend. I am a dad who simply wants to understand feminism. Why, though?
Because there is no denying the trading of so many traditional gender roles in the world of current American parenting. Like I’ve said before, changing diapers is no big deal at all for me. I can do that. I can learn to do a lot of things, but not all things are natural to my gender. In my book, changing diapers is neutral.
From what I understand, a feminist would say that when we assign gender roles to either parent, we are promoting sexism. Yet I was never able to breast feed. But I was the one able to get our son to sleep through the night by letting him cry it out. A lot of women would have a hard time with that.
I think it’s ridiculous to ignore gender roles. Why not work to the advantages of our natural abilities which our genders have graced us? Sure, some things are neutral; but others aren’t.
Are men and women truly equal?
Can a woman do anything a man can do?
Can a man do anything a woman can do?
My answer is: in theory. But in reality, I think if we are honest with ourselves, we know the real answers.
I celebrate the truth and find no shame in it. Celebrate women. Celebrate men. Celebrate both.
To me, if we can do that, we are truly not being sexists.