Thursday, November 03, 2005

Women's Space - a Rant

What I want to talk about is more subtle than the existence of physical women-only spaces like New Lady Fitness. But we can talk about that too, if you'd like.

What I'd like to talk about right now is frustratingly difficult to explain. I've noticed that if women address other women, or do things that help other women specifically, some men cry foul. They want to always be included, explicitly as well as implicitly.

Sometimes a politically correct push for inclusiveness has humorous effect, as with Parenting Magazine. The inclusive title is belied by its subtitle (What really matters to moms) and advertising ("Parenting, with a guaranteed circulation of 2,150,000 and a readership of nearly 11 million, is the nation’s leading magazine for moms."). In the end, it looks like the magazine is suggesting that "parenting" is equivalent to "mothering". "Fathering" certainly implies something else. And that really should be offensive to men.

More often, a PC push for inclusiveness is frustrating and serves mainly to silence women and distance us from one another.

If a mom writes an essay about mothers, there will always be men complaining that fathers are not specifically addressed in the piece. It's of no import that the author has not done anything to discourage a father from publishing his own work.

Rather than setting out to help create collaborative pieces, or to imitate the success of a mothers publication for fathers, too many men find it easy to attack women for not including them in the first place.

I don't understand why these men feel that it's women's job to make them feel comfortable and welcome everywhere at all times. I guess that second X chromosome makes us perpetual hostesses, offering special attention.

Because we can't ever say, "Hey, sister mamas, I wanna talk to you." We have to say, "Hey, other parents, let's chat." Always.

But what about the Promise Keepers? The Fathers' Rights movement?

Well, maybe those are wrong too.

But it's so much easier to attack the ladies.

It's all about the Power, people. And I tell you, it's not mothers who have all the power in this world. Not even most of it. Seriously, do we need to look at the poverty rates of mothers versus, oh, any other demographic?


indiana said...

the problem as you think could arse from the fact that all men or fathers are born to their mothers!!

men probaly are pampered more by their mothers than their fathers!!

probably it's ingrained in our brains ,that women are meant to pamper us!!

mind you this is irrespective of the fact that women are more liberated in terms of a professional life,or independence and what not,than before.These things dont matter, when it comes to pampering a guy !!1 ha ha ha..

hope you have a sense of humour!!


Mustang Sally said...

Great points, though if you reverse the pronouns in this comment "I don't understand why these men feel that it's women's job to make them feel comfortable and welcome everywhere at all times." and put it in a sexual harassment context, it sounds like a cartoon balloon for men who like to complain about having to be all PC all the time:

"I don't understand why these women feel that it's men's job to make them feel comfortable and welcome everywhere at all times."

Which makes me wonder if dads might not have a point. I know Curt gets rather offended at the assumption by publishers that only moms are the intended audience of all things "parental".

We say we want them to be 50/50 partners, but then go ahead and assume they won't be. It's kind of self-defeating don't you think?

ccw said...

Some very good points. I have often wondered about this too because men are not eager to have women join them in "manly" pursuits or gatherings, but many complain about being excluded from female gatherings, etc.

The Father's Rights movement on the surface seems like a good idea until you read about it and realize they are not for men doing their part of parenting, but rather trying to get back at the women who have screwed them somehow.

Sarahlynn said...

CCW - very true. That's why I didn't link to a Fathers' Rights site or even Wikipedia (which was way too glowing, IMO).

Mustang Sally, that's a false comparison. Women have had to work for our rights: for the right to vote, to work, to use birth control. Some men want us to do this work for them with regard to being seen as equal partners in parenting.

You know who's to blame for men not being seen as competent parents? Hint: it's not all women's fault. Men need to be taking responsibility for their own children, buying magazines, reading books, going to playgroups or classes, being the primary point of communication for schools and daycares, not making fun of other men who "help out" at home, all the things that moms have traditionally been responsible for. It's not women's job to tell them to do so, or to roll out the red carpet and send them an engraved invitation.

If fathers want to be treated like parents, then fathers need to take responsibility. And part of that is accepting that sometimes it's OK for fathers to want to talk to other fathers, just as sometimes it's OK for mothers to want to talk to other mothers. We face a lot of the same issues, but not all the same issues.

Finally, you're distorting the point with the sexual harassment comment. I never suggested that women should create an environment that's hostile or threatening to men. Only that men should be willing to be *partners* in the process, doing their share of the work, trying to make what they want out of what they've got rather than trying to take away from what women have.

Blaming women for the way men are seen as parents is like blaming girls' volleyball rather than boys' football when the wrestling team's funding gets cut.

Dick Masterson said...


Women don't even know what "half the work" means. They've been goldbricking since the beginning of time.


Mustang Sally said...

What's the old saying about "he who shall not be named?" apparently to speak of the men's right trolls is to invite them.

Let me be clear - I agree that as more men step up and take equal responsibility they'll be perceived as better parents. I should probably have used a broader example than sexual harassment as my comparison. What I meant to draw a parallel to is the broader issue of gender roles, in general. And your argument for not needing to roll out the red carpet for men echoed what I've heard from men about women in traditionally manly careers. FOr years we've been telling men that no, it is NOT enough to refrain from outright hostility/harassment. They DO need to explicitly welcome women (and other minorities) into their traditional "realms" and roll out the red carpet.

It's very difficult to explain to the simple minds of the trolls (who care only about themselves, here and now, and do not understand the subtle logic of millenia of ingrained societal oppression, etc. etc.) why then, women are not similarly obligated to roll out the red carpet to their very small, traditional role of primary parent.

Just pointing out where you're giving them logical ammo, that's all. Not saying that ammo is justified or accurate, but a bomb doesn't need to be accurate to do a lot of damage.

Sarahlynn said...

First, to clarify, I wrote this in response to a very specific incident. On another blog, a mother of a child with special needs posted a letter/essay from a mother of child with special needs to other mothers of children with special needs. It was a sympathetic, "we are a sorority" type of piece.

A father of a child with special needs jumped on the author, talking about how "exclusive" and "elitist" she was being by addressing her essay only to mothers without mentioning fathers.

My point is that fathers can certainly be involved parents without actively taking away mothers' support systems.

It's not appropriate to imply that what's appropriate in the workplace is the way we must govern our every thought, word, and action.

One huge difference between historically manly careers and women's traditional role as primary parent is power. After all, Father Knows Best, even in the home. Where have moms traditionally gone for help or advice from the experts? Men: pediatricians, child psychologists, clergy, Wait Until Your Father Gets Home, etc.

It's like the way historically most wives have been the primary cooks, but most highly paid professional chefs have been men.

On a global scale, men aren't disenfranchised at home the way women have historically been in the workplace.

We still have a long way to go. But it turns out that there are enough jobs in the workforce for women (after all, how could a man support his family on a woman's salary?) and there's enough parenting work to go around too.