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Author Topic: A silly question about fathers
Hailey
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posted 21 April 2005 08:27 PM      Profile for Hailey     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I feel a bit foolish asking this because it's just silly but it's a puzzle piece for me. I didn't know if someone was blessed with the knowledge and patience to explain it to me. It's a fairly silly question but it's been burning in my mind the last couple of weeks and mostly today.

I grew up with a fairly narrow social and family circle and really wasn't exposed to thinking or ideas outside of that. The last few years my circle has broadened by attending University, working, and marrying someone who had always had a broader social circle.

I honestly have no recollection of hearing anyone refer to my father as "babysitting" us. I am not sure if that's because in the christian community the term isn't used or if I would have perhaps not noticed it because it was less relevant to my life.

In the last couple of weeks I've been in a situation where I've left the boys in the car with my husband for 20 to 30 minutes when I've picked a few groceries up at the store and the cashier - who knows me and knows the babes are in the car with my husband- have commented that I'm I'm lucky that my husband babysits. It's come up a couple of other times too. Anyway, today we went to the gym. I went for a run as part of my weight management and my husband took the boys. He took one of them into the pool with him (the other slept on the side) and then we met for breakfast at the cafe on the main floor. A couple of women came over and commented positively to me and used the term babysitting. I can't say that i really noticed that so much as I just thought it was nice that they went out of their way to comment on my husband's interactions with our sons. My husband - who is far more thick skinned than I'll ever be - was just angered beyond belief that anyone would refer to him as a babysitter or spending time with the boys as babysitting. Rather than let it slide he chose to address that with them. I was surprised because although he is comfortable with confrontation he usually picks his arguments carefully.

Anyway, I'm just curious why would someone refer to a father as babysitting rather than parenting?


From: candyland | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 21 April 2005 08:43 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Because they're sexist idiots?
From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Stephen Gordon
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posted 21 April 2005 08:54 PM      Profile for Stephen Gordon        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Gotta side with your husband there, Hailey, and I'm a calm, laid-back guy as well. If anyone suggested that my involvement with my children is comparable to what the 15-year-old girl around the corner does once a month, I'd jump down their throats.
From: . | Registered: Oct 2003  |  IP: Logged
Papal Bull
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posted 21 April 2005 09:00 PM      Profile for Papal Bull   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'm going with OC and Michelle. My father never babysat me. He was raising me.
From: Vatican's best darned ranch | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
James
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posted 21 April 2005 09:05 PM      Profile for James        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Hailey, as a male parent, (one who was the primary caregiver, but that matters not here), I would have found it difficult to control the anger I'd feel towards anyone calling me a "babysitter".
From: Windsor; ON | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged
ShyViolet
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posted 21 April 2005 09:07 PM      Profile for ShyViolet     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
my stepfather has never babysat me. no, as pb said, he raised me.
From: ~Love is like pi: natural, irrational, and very important~ | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged
Bacchus
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posted 21 April 2005 09:37 PM      Profile for Bacchus     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
My father helped raise me, not babysitted me and instilled virtues in me that I only now realize when people have constantly come up to me and remembered the great things he did when he was alive

They are sexist idiots much like the people that refer to the mothers and simply baby making machines


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Scott Piatkowski
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posted 21 April 2005 10:03 PM      Profile for Scott Piatkowski   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Who would ever thought that I would share a pet peeve with Hailey and Mr. Hailey?

I think we should spread the anger around a little bit though. Why do people think it's so damned unusual for a father to act like a father? Perhaps they haven't witnessed or experienced that enough, which is why they became accustomed to applying the hated babysitter moniker to fathers.

[ 24 April 2005: Message edited by: Scott Piatkowski ]


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chester the prairie shark
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posted 21 April 2005 10:03 PM      Profile for chester the prairie shark     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I log a ton o time with my grils (thanks zoot). for many years i was either a) at work or b) with my kids, period. I never babysat (definition of babysit:giving care to children for a limited, defined period of time after which you aren't primarily responsibe for their needs). for my kids, mom meant "big person who will respond to my immediate needs", it didn't matter who showed up. the grils would sometimes walk right up to me and call me mom. and yet i remember getting pissed off when a work friend refered to "parenting", it just struck me as so "all the books i'm reading are about 'parenting'" and i'm all "meh, whatever". i guess i'm just naturally disaggreable.

but back to haileys point, no matter what you call it, the fact that people feel that a dad taking care of the kids is remarkable is what? disheartnening, discouraging, weird, bewildering? maddening? i'm not sure.


From: Saskatoon | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged
Raos
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posted 21 April 2005 10:05 PM      Profile for Raos     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'd say I'm in agreement with everybody else here. It's simply a sexist comment, that insinuates that a man is only filling in temporarily for the real caregiver, the mother.
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Papal Bull
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posted 21 April 2005 10:10 PM      Profile for Papal Bull   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I think that during most of my childhood I had my dad fill in for "mother".
From: Vatican's best darned ranch | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
nonsuch
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posted 21 April 2005 10:21 PM      Profile for nonsuch     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
What is 'babysitting', anyway? Just being in the house, to make sure nobody steals the babies or to call 911 if anything terrible happens to them? Or is it a more active and interactive role?

I would never think of a parent as babysitting; i would imagine them having an intense, significant and fulfilling relationship with their children. Whether that's true of the parent or not, every minute leaves a lasting impression on the child.


From: coming and going | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Timebandit
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posted 21 April 2005 10:41 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I heard the babysitting comment more when I was younger in reference to dads who were in my father's generation (he'd be in his mid-60s now), and only when kids were very small. But at that time it was less usual for men to be as active a parent as most fathers are now, although I do still hear it from time to time.

I'm lucky to have a partner who is about as actively engaged with our kids as I am -- I still know some dads who are leery of diaper changes and baby care, but he was even better at things like the quick public diaper change than I was at first. I'd be heartily offended (and so would he) to have his time alone with the wild grils classed as "babysitting".

Attitudes are slow to change, though, and there are still men out there who aren't as active with their children as their partners -- the blond guy is one of only 4 dads to volunteer at Ms T's preschool, for instance.

(chester, don't thank me -- I picked up "grils" from 'lance and skdadl! )

[ 21 April 2005: Message edited by: Zoot ]


From: Urban prairie. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
mamitalinda
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posted 21 April 2005 10:48 PM      Profile for mamitalinda   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
okay, I must ask... Why "grils"? Is it some variant of grrrrl, as in Riot Grrrl? Gril, to me, sounds like something one might fry a hamburger on
From: Babblers On Strike! | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
Bookish Agrarian
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posted 21 April 2005 10:57 PM      Profile for Bookish Agrarian   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
As a stay-at-home father, most of the time, there is one sure way to see my 'Scottish' side. i.e. I'll rip your heart out with my blue-painted hands. All you have to do is make a comment about me babysitting our kids. It offends me to no end.
I am a father. I am a proud father. Before I am anything else, husband, farmer, librarian, any term you want- I AM A FATHER!
I do not babysit, I raise my children. I am a part of their life and they are the cornerstone of mine. I do not look after my children in exchange for some benefit other than the joy and frustration they bring to my life.
Ask me about my life and chances are I will tell you about my kids- something funny they've done, why I want to fix the world, why I work around the clock preserving their farm heritage. I AM A FATHER and it is at the root of everything I do.
When I see other children suffering or in pain, I weep, because I fear it could be my own. When I see a child who needs help, I extend my hand. When I think about the kind of policies I want my government to enact, a major area is the kind of community, province, country, world I want for my children, for I AM A FATHER.
My children are not my entire life. But the life I give them and try to help them build shapes my life every day. I am not a babysitter. I AM A FATHER.

From: Home of this year's IPM | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged
Stephen Gordon
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posted 21 April 2005 11:05 PM      Profile for Stephen Gordon        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Great post, Grant R.
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alisea
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posted 21 April 2005 11:06 PM      Profile for alisea     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
*kudos to all the above*

My husband has always seen utterly red about this issue, too, and good for him, and good for all men who refuse to have their caring for their children written off as somehow inferior.

I have never, ever, ever thought of my husband as babysitting our children, and I never will. Pity that there are still so many hidebound blinkered people out there who will never know the joys of parenting without stereotypes.


From: Halifax, Nova Scotia | Registered: Jun 2003  |  IP: Logged
Jacob Two-Two
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posted 21 April 2005 11:14 PM      Profile for Jacob Two-Two     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
okay, I must ask... Why "grils"?

I think it's an attempt to counteract the cutesy associations with the term "girl". It sounds tougher.

A while back, I was leaving work and I ran into this nutty, but very amusing, fellow who talked my ear off about the "true" meanings of words (he carried a very old dictionary around with him and showed me some peculiar definitions from it of very mundane words) , and how popular music contains deep truths that the artists themselves were probably unaware of. He kept breaking into song to illustrate his point.

The only example I can remember now, although he told me whole bunch of them, was the word "girl", which according to him and his dictionary, used to mean a youth of either sex. He then went on to tell me that all the songs in the world using the word "girl" weren't really talking about romance or women, but were imparting profound truths to those masses who were still "young", in the sense of having not matured to enlightenment.

Anyway, it got me to thinking, if he was right, then the use of the word "girl" to describe females indicates that they don't grow up, that they are perpetually in an infant state, until they become "women" by getting married. So the two roles for women were as children and then as property. Not that this is news to anyone, but it shows you how language is not neutral but exists to reinforce these social conventions. I love to see language evolving, because it means society is evolving.

[ 21 April 2005: Message edited by: Jacob Two-Two ]


From: There is but one Gord and Moolah is his profit | Registered: Jan 2002  |  IP: Logged
Hephaestion
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posted 22 April 2005 12:03 AM      Profile for Hephaestion   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Note to Hailey:

Maybe you should get Mr. Hailey to read this thread...?


From: goodbye... :-( | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
remind
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posted 22 April 2005 01:49 AM      Profile for remind     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Calling fathers baby sitters is a concept I have never understood. I had never experienced it until I moved to BC, particularily northern BC.

My SO would get so furious when he stated to someone he was at home with our daughter and not able to committ to something they wanted to do, and they said in repsonse; "oh, how long are you baby sitting for".

Now, he is equally as devoted grandfather, it is about family, and families do not babysit their children.


From: "watching the tide roll away" | Registered: Jun 2004  |  IP: Logged
Hailey
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posted 22 April 2005 01:57 AM      Profile for Hailey     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Gotta side with your husband there, Hailey, and I'm a calm, laid-back guy as well

I would side with him too. I'd have been nicer but ultimately I don't disagree with him. I just find it perplexing.

quote:

Is it rare or common?

quote:
They are sexist idiots much like the people that refer to the mothers and simply baby making machines

Nobody would seriously call me a baby making machine. It seems fairly common to say men are babysitters.

quote:
but back to haileys point, no matter what you call it, the fact that people feel that a dad taking care of the kids is remarkable is what? disheartnening, discouraging, weird, bewildering? maddening? i'm not sure.


It actually made me sad that when it was initially said to me that it didn't really register with me how offensive it could be. Upon further reflection I can better understand.

quote:
I'm lucky to have a partner who is about as actively engaged with our kids as I am -- I still know some dads who are leery of diaper changes and baby care, but he was even better at things like the quick public diaper change than I was at first.

I could not say that.

That's such a sweet post Grant


From: candyland | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
aRoused
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posted 22 April 2005 06:35 AM      Profile for aRoused     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well, I'll buck the trend and say that I didn't see any problem with it.

I understand fully the points everyone else has been making about the difference between babysitting and raising/parenting, but my initial reaction was similar to Hailey's: not a big deal, certainly not something to get enraged about.

I suppose it *is* sexist on reflection, but on a 'don't ascribe to malice what can be assigned to stupidity' level. Maybe I'll change my tune when/if I reproduce..


From: The King's Royal Burgh of Eoforwich | Registered: Dec 2001  |  IP: Logged
James
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posted 22 April 2005 08:48 AM      Profile for James        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Hailey:
Anyway, I'm just curious why would someone refer to a father as babysitting rather than parenting?

I'd say - location, location, location !


From: Windsor; ON | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged
thwap
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posted 22 April 2005 09:50 AM      Profile for thwap        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
As a new 25-yr old father, who looked a little like a troubled drug-addict, I was out grocery shopping with my 1month old strapped to my chest in one of those whaddayercallums, waiting for the bus on a rainy windy night, and 2 teenage girls looked at me and said: "A guy with a kid??" to which I replied; "Yeah."
From: Hamilton | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
aRoused
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posted 22 April 2005 10:13 AM      Profile for aRoused     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
ROTFL. I take it they weren't the success-stories of Grade 9 sex-ed, then?

"Guys can have kids too?"


From: The King's Royal Burgh of Eoforwich | Registered: Dec 2001  |  IP: Logged
Fed
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posted 22 April 2005 10:20 AM      Profile for Fed        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
That's an odd one, for sure. Babysitting implies temporary custodial care. Not the correct term to apply to a father. Not one I've heard here in eastern Ontario... Someone mentioned it is a commonly used expression in northern BC---would they use the same term for mothers with their children?
From: http://babblestrike.lbprojects.com/ | Registered: Apr 2005  |  IP: Logged
audra trower williams
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posted 22 April 2005 11:04 AM      Profile for audra trower williams   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yeah, my husband's sister will often say her husband is "babysitting" their children. It's so irritating, for so many reasons. Not the least of which being how rare an occasion it is, and how the information is often presented as though he is doing her a favour.
From: And I'm a look you in the eye for every bar of the chorus | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
chester the prairie shark
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posted 22 April 2005 11:36 AM      Profile for chester the prairie shark     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
sigh. what a shame that some people (men)choose to miss out on the incredible feeling of connectedness that comes from being an integral part of kids lives:

we're taking the trailer up to waskisieu early in the year, the grils are maybe 3 and 6 and were travelling with my older, retired cousin (uncle dale to the kids). we stop in P.A. for lunch and i'm late to the restaraunt because i check over the trailer. when i walk in the grils each have a balloon tied to their chairs and lydia looks at me and pronounces "great customer service, dad!". funny. later, were just out of p.a and i think i've left something in the restaraunt but my cousin announces that he picked it up: "yay uncle dale!" he's happy, their happy, i'm happy, everybodies happy. simple mundane stuff that you carry with you for a lifetime.


From: Saskatoon | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged
Sharon
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posted 22 April 2005 11:44 AM      Profile for Sharon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
To speak of fathers babysitting their children is not at all uncommon. I have heard it everywhere I've ever lived (except Spain -- I've been told there is no word for "babysitting" in Spanish)and I've heard it for years. And I agree, it's used in the sense of the father doing a favour for the mother.
From: Halifax, Nova Scotia | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
faith
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posted 22 April 2005 01:30 PM      Profile for faith     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I have to agree with Sharon on this. My youngest is now 14 so maybe I'm older than some on this thread and remember when it was very uncommon to see fathers interacting with their kids , particularly babies.
When I had my first, who is now 21, my husband was the only father in the pool for 'waterbabies'.
It was very common to hear fathers themselves talk about having to 'babysit' while 'the wife' was out. I even remember friends of ours where the father would actually call a babysitter when facing time with his children even if he had nothing else to do, as he said "I'm no Mr. Mom".
It is encouraging to hear the love in the words of the fathers on this forum. A trend that brings the father role back into the heart of the family instead of being estranged through a 70 hour work week with an hour commute, is good for everyone.

From: vancouver | Registered: Aug 2003  |  IP: Logged
Américain Égalitaire
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posted 22 April 2005 06:31 PM      Profile for Américain Égalitaire   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Heh, I used to get comments like that too.

Its hard sometimes not to respond to some of the thoughtless remarks but most are not meant to be spiteful or hurtful and you don't want to cause a scene in front of your kids.

But I don't blame the dads for getting their dander up. We are parents too!

If you'll permit a bit of thread drift, on the subject of people saying things like that in public, I am doing a mothers day piece on women who decided to either resume having children or start their families in their 30s or 40s.

One woman, although surprised by the event at 40, happily looked forward to the birth of her son.

Here were a few of the comments she got:

quote:
“People asked me so many strange things: are you having it for yourself or someone else, or are you giving the baby up for adoption? I told them NO, he’s mine!

“I just let it roll off my back. I would have cried 20 years ago but I think its just that people are so curious about older women having babies now.


Amazing the things people will ask.


From: Chardon, Ohio USA | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
Trisha
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posted 23 April 2005 02:23 PM      Profile for Trisha     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Men are traditionally not considered the primary caregivers of children so the term "babysitting" applied to a father is not unusual nor an insult. The situation has changed only in that more men are taking more responsibility but a large majority still do not. I'm aquainted with four couples in their early 30s where the fathers take as little responsibility for the children as possible. One of these will not watch his children for even a short time. Even at a family event, that man expects any woman present to take care of his children. The others will "babysit" when it's necessary.

I give a lot of credit to men who believe and act on the fact that they are equally responsible for their children. I just don't see a lot of it.


From: Thunder Bay, Ontario | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Mandos
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posted 23 April 2005 02:35 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Trisha: They may not be primary caregivers, but they are still directly responsible for their children in the a way that a mere babysitter is not. I think the point is that a babysitter is a transient influence in the life of a child, whereas a nonprimarycaregiver father is often at least economically responsible for the children, even if he doesn't (for whatever reason) spend much time with them.

The insult is found in implying that fathers who are at least working for their families are transient entities, not that fathers aren't often the primary caregiver. A babysitter is a transient entity.

Also there is the disturbing implication that being primary caregiver implies a more necessary relationship with the children, when there are needs that often require taking care of for the good of the children that don't involve direct contact.

[ 23 April 2005: Message edited by: Mandos ]


From: There, there. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 23 April 2005 05:41 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Thank-you for posting that, Trisha. I was getting a little uncomfortable with how self-congratulatory this thread was becoming myself. Statistically, married women still do the lion's share of domestic work, including the raising of the children, something that isn't taken into account by "father's rights" types who think that 50-50 custody arrangements should be the default upon separation.

I hate the term "babysitting" when applied to fathers looking after their children. But the funny thing is, the people I've heard it the most from in my life are fathers themselves. The vast majority of the time I've heard the word used, it's a guy talking about how he has to "babysit" his kids because "the wife" is out doing something or other.

The only time I've heard women use the phrase is when they're married or related to men who think this way about child-rearing. Of course, this is not in any way a scientific sample I'm talking about here. It's just been my experience.


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
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posted 23 April 2005 05:47 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
How interesting.

At last, we seem to have found an issue where men -- as in men, ie the guys -- need to take ownership of the issue.


From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 23 April 2005 05:51 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Oh, I completely agree with that! And I certainly don't want to start a fight here. I think the term "babysitting" when applied to fathers is loathesome. It's nice to see fathers standing up and saying, "We're NOT babysitting. We're parenting." I love the fact that so many men are embracing feminist ideas and principles, and that includes the men in this thread who hate being referred to as "babysitters".

But I just wanted to make sure that the point wasn't lost, that this phenomenon didn't originate as discrimination against men. This whole mindset of the man "babysitting" comes from the oppression of women - the idea that the domestic and child-rearing stuff is "women's work" and that men who do any of it are "helping". That is a patriarchal mindset, one that has been traditionally perpetuated by male power within society. The people I hear using this term are generally sexist men, or women who are going along to get along.

And you're right - this is one feminist issue that started out as one that women had to fight - but at this point, it is now an issue that men need to take (and are taking!) ownership of.

(I know, bad grammar. Tough. )

[ 23 April 2005: Message edited by: Michelle ]


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Scott Piatkowski
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posted 23 April 2005 06:00 PM      Profile for Scott Piatkowski   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Hey, Michelle, I guess you didn't read this part of my post

quote:
I think we should spread the anger around a little bit though. Why do people think it's so damned unusual for a father to act like a father? Perhaps they haven't witnessed or experienced that enough, which is why they became accustomed to applying the hated babysitter moniker to fathers.

From: Kitchener-Waterloo | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 23 April 2005 06:04 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Eek, I meant, yes I did. I thought you wrote, "You missed this part of my post" to which I replied "No I didn't".

Anyhow, what I meant is, I saw it. And I saw a couple of other, similar sentiments expressed. So maybe I shouldn't have used "self-congratulatory" to describe the tone of the thread - re-reading it, I can see that it might be an unfair assessment.

[ 23 April 2005: Message edited by: Michelle ]


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Bookish Agrarian
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posted 23 April 2005 06:06 PM      Profile for Bookish Agrarian   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
As a father who has had this comment directed at me it has only ever come from women and for some reason either older women or younger women, not the large group in between. And men are definately not made to feel welcomed at drop-in centres and the like from many women either.
I must be old fashioned but I always understood feminisim to be about freeing us all from sexism whether we are women or men. Making such broad statements about men is just as role defining as expecting that a woman has to be the one to change the diaper.

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Hailey
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posted 23 April 2005 06:11 PM      Profile for Hailey     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
When I had my first, who is now 21, my husband was the only father in the pool for 'waterbabies'

Sweet

quote:
It was very common to hear fathers themselves talk about having to 'babysit' while 'the wife' was out.

I probably didn't pay much attention before I had my own but so far I've only heard women say it.

quote:
. A trend that brings the father role back into the heart of the family instead of being estranged through a 70 hour work week with an hour commute, is good for everyone.

I agree.

quote:
Statistically, married women still do the lion's share of domestic work, including the raising of the children, something that isn't taken into account by "father's rights" types who think that 50-50 custody arrangements should be the default upon separation.
I hate the term "babysitting" when applied to fathers looking after their children. But the funny thing is, the people I've heard it the most from in my life are fathers themselves. The vast majority of the time I've heard the word used, it's a guy talking about how he has to "babysit" his kids because "the wife" is out doing something or other.


quote:
We're NOT babysitting. We're parenting." I love the fact that so many men are embracing feminist ideas and principles, and that includes the men in this thread who hate being referred to as "babysitters".

quote:
But I just wanted to make sure that the point wasn't lost, that this phenomenon didn't originate as discrimination against men. This whole mindset of the man "babysitting" comes from the oppression of women - the idea that the domestic and child-rearing stuff is "women's work" and that men who do any of it are "helping". That is a patriarchal mindset, one that has been traditionally perpetuated by male power within society

I must say I never framed this issue in my mind as being out the division of labour within the household and whether or not the male parent was sharing in the household management and upbringing of the children. That probably varies within families and women are probably still more responsible than their spouses for domestic work. To each their own.

I had more thought of it along the lines of the importance of an emotional attachment existing between parents and children. If our boys don't grow up feeling a keen awareness that they are a blessing to our lives and having formed a powerful and loving connection to both of us Ryan and I will have failed as parents.

The time that he spends with them isn't about contributing to the alleviation of any duties from me - it's about wanting to have a positive loving nurturing relationship. I wouldn't want him to take the children if he saw it as dividing up some perceived burden. He just thinks they are great, loves them, and wants to spend time with them. It's as uncomplicated as that!


From: candyland | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 23 April 2005 06:25 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Grant I R:
As a father who has had this comment directed at me it has only ever come from women and for some reason either older women or younger women, not the large group in between. And men are definately not made to feel welcomed at drop-in centres and the like from many women either.

I must be old fashioned but I always understood feminisim to be about freeing us all from sexism whether we are women or men. Making such broad statements about men is just as role defining as expecting that a woman has to be the one to change the diaper.


So what you're saying is that the whole idea of men "helping" women or men "babysitting" their kids originated as female bigotry against men?

I think that's bullshit, frankly. Women, feminists, have had a much longer and harder time fighting this stereotype than men have. We started the fight, we fought to make it a mainstream idea, that men should be equally responsible for domestic duties, and we have been fought every inch of the way by domineering, sexist men, and sychophantic women who know on which side their bread is buttered.

And frankly, it is WOMEN who have borne the worst brunt of this stereotype, not men. It sucks that some women didn't accept you at the local drop-in centre, but frankly, Grant, that's a mere drop in the bucket compared to the effect on women of the attitude that domestic work is women's work, and that men are only "helping". If anything, the reason feminists have been fought so strongly against over the years is because many men (no, not all men) when feminism first started to become a real force recognized that women were tired of doing the "double shift", and that men might actually be expected to start contributing.

And furthermore, that they might actually be expected to contribute without getting a hero biscuit every time they change a diaper or take the kids to the park.

I'm sorry if this sounds harsh, but it really gets my back up when a man claims that I am being sexist by "making such broad statements about men" when what I'm actually doing is describing a social phenomena and talking about patriarchy.

I agree that patriarchy is no good for women OR men. I agree that men have also been limited by role definitions set out through our patriarchal system. But the fact is, it has traditionally hurt women a lot more than it has men. The fact is, it has traditionally been women who have taken up the fight first, followed by supportive men. And the fact is, it was and still continues to be a women's issue first and foremost, and while I'm grateful for the support of men who have embraced the idea that they should be shouldering half of the domestic burden in a family (which I clearly wrote above), I also want there to be recognition that the whole "helping" or "babysitting" mindset comes from a place of patriarchy in society, not from bigotry against men.


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Cougyr
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posted 23 April 2005 06:30 PM      Profile for Cougyr     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
As one who spent a lot of time with my kids, including changing diapers, etc., I never cared one whit what other people called it. I just thought it was part of being a dad.

For me, the hard part was that my employers thought that the company should come first and my family second. Some of my bosses were really snotty about that.


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Bookish Agrarian
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posted 23 April 2005 06:38 PM      Profile for Bookish Agrarian   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Michelle, what I read in your post was the underlying assumption that ALL men are looking to slough off their responibilites. If we are ever to make progress, and boy we haven't made much, we need to accept that some men have actually moved away from old attitudes.

My back was up that you seemed to be suggesting those of us who are involved in our children's lives as joint primary caregivers are just posing. I suppose it would be easier just to be sexist, so it wouldn't hurt once in awhile to acknowledge that some men have internalized the feminist perspective instead of making what comes off as snide comments about them.

I of course know that women have been the ones who have been subjugated by patriarchy, but it doesn't hurt to acknowledge that ultimately we are all freed, women and men alike, from feminisim. I am forever grateful for all the women who have fought for all women and the women who today continue to do so. Ultimately their victory will be a victory for everyone.

If I offend you I am sorry, I seem to be in a mood today, that was not my intent.


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Michelle
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posted 23 April 2005 06:39 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
That is an interesting point, Cougyr.

I wonder how prevalent that is in the workplace today, that men are not expected to take time off for sick kids and the like?

I am lucky with my job - it's a really great atmosphere, and men and women are treated with real equality there - no one blinks an eyelash if anyone, male or female, has to stay home with the kids.

I'd be interested in hearing people's experience with that sort of thing, whether men or women. (Because, after all, when men feel pressured by their employers to not take sick time with their kids, then that would mean that their partners would have to use THEIR sick time instead.)

Almost all the whole time I was married with a child, I had a job and my husband did not (he went to school). So that dynamic didn't really present itself with us, because he didn't have an employer to be pressured by, and the only time the little one got really sick (one of those horrifying 9 day stomach flus) was one time while my husband was on summer vacation.


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 23 April 2005 06:40 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Grant I R:
Michelle, what I read in your post was the underlying assumption that ALL men are looking to slough off their responibilites.

Well then, you should have read more carefully.

As for the rest of your post, you have ascribed things to me that I never said and would never dream of saying. I'm sorry that you can't process feminist theory and ideas without making it all about you personally, but really, that's your problem.

quote:
My back was up that you seemed to be suggesting those of us who are involved in our children's lives as joint primary caregivers are just posing.

What utter and complete bullshit. Where did I say that?

quote:
I of course know that women have been the ones who have been subjugated by patriarchy, but it doesn't hurt to acknowledge that ultimately we are all freed, women and men alike, from feminisim.

Um, where were people not acknowledging that? How can you read my post and not see my acknowledgement of that? Christ almighty.

I acknowledged it in several places:

quote:
It's nice to see fathers standing up and saying, "We're NOT babysitting. We're parenting." I love the fact that so many men are embracing feminist ideas and principles, and that includes the men in this thread who hate being referred to as "babysitters".

quote:
And you're right - this is one feminist issue that started out as one that women had to fight - but at this point, it is now an issue that men need to take (and are taking!) ownership of.

You know, I really hate this. I hate it that feminists still have to tiptoe around certain men who just can't bear to hear women talk about patriarchy without begging for a hero biscuit for themselves, and getting all hissy and offended when they feel feminists haven't qualified every fucking thing they say about patriarchal society with, "But Grant, we're SO GRATEFUL that you're in this with us! We're SO GLAD that you're a good father! Congratulations on being such a wonderful specimen!"

And then we get falsely accused of male-bashing and generalizing about all men. Fuck that.

[ 23 April 2005: Message edited by: Michelle ]


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Bookish Agrarian
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posted 23 April 2005 06:47 PM      Profile for Bookish Agrarian   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Why bother, surely I can find better things to do with my time

[ 23 April 2005: Message edited by: Grant I R ]


From: Home of this year's IPM | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 23 April 2005 06:50 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I agree, Grant. I'm sure you can find much better things to do with your time than to look for reasons why you're being so oppressed by feminists talking about patriarchy.
From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Bookish Agrarian
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posted 23 April 2005 06:52 PM      Profile for Bookish Agrarian   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
That was both uncalled for and unfair and I wish I would have left sooner so I didn't see you stoop to it.
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Hailey
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posted 23 April 2005 06:55 PM      Profile for Hailey     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Lets not fight.
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Michelle
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posted 23 April 2005 06:56 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
You're the one who stooped in this thread, Grant. You stooped to the age-old practice of reading a feminist argument and then falsely claiming that the feminist is discriminating against men. Reverse discrimination! Reverse sexism!

Whatever.


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
rasmus
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posted 24 April 2005 12:31 AM      Profile for rasmus   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I've just read through this thread and I totally didn't see what Grant saw in Michelle's posts. On the contrary, Michelle was very careful to qualify her posts so that they wouldn't read as somehow saying "ALL men are X". Michelle's analysis wasn't even denying the reality of what Grant experienced, just saying that the whole discourse around men "babysitting" is rooted in patriarchy where work is gendered and parental roles are gendered and valued differently, not in women's meanness towards men. It's kind of a no-brainer, frankly. Once again, though, hurt feelings of the progressive male (as often with the progressive white person, the progressive non-aboriginal person) demand centre stage, displacing the issue of the fundamental dynamic of oppression, and reinscribing patriarchal valuations of whose feelings count for more, whose feelings should be tended to.
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Hailey
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posted 24 April 2005 01:20 AM      Profile for Hailey     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
As a father who has had this comment directed at me it has only ever come from women and for some reason either older women or younger women, not the large group in between.

Strangely enough that's what I've noticed in a VERY SHORT period of observing.

quote:
And men are definately not made to feel welcomed at drop-in centres and the like from many women either

That surprises me beyond measure.

quote:
And frankly, it is WOMEN who have borne the worst brunt of this stereotype, not men. It sucks that some women didn't accept you at the local drop-in centre, but frankly, Grant, that's a mere drop in the bucket compared to the effect on women of the attitude that domestic work is women's work, and that men are only "helping"

I think that when people behave in a way that makes you feel a distant third party in the live of your child(ren) that it would be a natural human reaction to respond to that with the fullness of all of your emotions. Most people wouldn't step back and evaluate the historical context and try to compare the pain of one group versus another. I'm not saying that it's wrong to do - I'm just saying it's not a reasonable expectation.

It's like asking someone who lost a loved one recently to appreciate that other people have had even more painful journeys. When you are caught up in your own situation and experiencing your own reactions those overshadow any academic historical overview.

quote:
And furthermore, that they might actually be expected to contribute without getting a hero biscuit every time they change a diaper or take the kids to the park

Michelle, I have met men who spend time with their children and throughout that whole time have their eye on the clock. The time they spend with them is very much an organized effort to alleviate some of the "burden" of taking care of them. Some of those men want recognition for every moment that they spend with their children and need some kind of external recognition from others. I would hope that's a minority of individuals just as I hope that the women I meet that complain about their children and the efforts that they put forward in raising them are a minority as well. It grieves me to listen to.

I think children who are passed back and forth between two people who see them as a burden that needs to be shared have a painfully sad existence when compared with those children who are able to be raised in situations where their mothers and fathers see their time with them as a blessing.

The true "heroes biscuit" doesn't come from some stranger at the mall giving you a kind word or your spouse being happy with you for lightning the load. It comes from the reward of having a much more profound father-child relationship than enjoyed by most fathers in previous generations.

quote:
I agree that men have also been limited by role definitions set out through our patriarchal system. But the fact is, it has traditionally hurt women a lot more than it has men.

I can't disagree with that Michelle but when people feel that the value of their own parent-child relationship is not recognized and that it's diminished by how others see it that's a pretty hard thing not to respond to.

quote:
For me, the hard part was that my employers thought that the company should come first and my family second. Some of my bosses were really snotty about that

That's very common.

quote:
I of course know that women have been the ones who have been subjugated by patriarchy, but it doesn't hurt to acknowledge that ultimately we are all freed, women and men alike, from feminisim. I am forever grateful for all the women who have fought for all women and the women who today continue to do so. Ultimately their victory will be a victory for everyone.


I'll focus just on what I agree with. I do think that if there are barriers that exist to both genders being able to have contributing valuable relationships with their children that is a wonderful thing.

quote:
I wonder how prevalent that is in the workplace today, that men are not expected to take time off for sick kids and the like?


Where my husband works there is a definite pre-existing rapport and a definite confidence that everyone will "make it up" in one way or another out of a sense of work ethic if they end up needing to take a day or two off. My understanding is that is very much a minority situation. Most employers in his field would heavily frown upon it.


From: candyland | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
Wilf Day
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posted 24 April 2005 01:34 AM      Profile for Wilf Day     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Michelle:
I wonder how prevalent that is in the workplace today, that men are not expected to take time off for sick kids and the like?

I expect many employers don't want either parent to take time off for sick children.

But as to the original "babysitter" term question, perhaps this is an unduly economic-determinist argument, but I think its origin came down to wage levels. When men are paid more than women (I gather this may be ceasing with employees under 30), they consider "women's work" to be secondary. Men are the "primary wage-earners" and child-care is the women's sphere. Hence, if a man is doing the woman's job, he is not being a parent, but a babysitter.

As women and men grow to earn, on average, equal wages, 50% of male parents will be earning less than the female parents. By economic necessity, half the dads will be the care-givers, except perhaps in families where both parents are able to job share. At this point, men will not longer accept the term "babysitter." But we aren't there yet, I guess.

Okay, this is an over-simplification. Some guys will say child-care is women's work regardless what they each earn. But over time, economics will determine societal change, won't it?

[ 24 April 2005: Message edited by: Wilf Day ]


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James
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posted 24 April 2005 02:52 AM      Profile for James        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
What a sad, sad example this thread has become.
From: Windsor; ON | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged
peppermint
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posted 24 April 2005 06:12 AM      Profile for peppermint     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I wonder if the original situation might not have been a cultural thing?

I've met a lot of men in this corner of the world who expect a hero bickie for "helping their wives". This could mean anything from merely playing with the baby to washind dishes ( oh the indignity!)

Admittedly Korean men are expected to spend insanely long hours at the company, but that's mostly face time. Work hard for five hours and twiddle your thumbs and pretend to work for the rest is the norm here.


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Trisha
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posted 24 April 2005 06:57 AM      Profile for Trisha     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Maybe fathers feeling they are not accepted in play groups and such is due to the fact that such hands-on parenting is still fairly rare, though I'm very glad to see that it is increasing. The teachers at the school my friends children attend are often surprised when a father shows up for anything concerning the children, including interviews. On the other hand, there are a few fathers who do more of the caregiving than the mothers.

The whole thing is still in a transition stage and the role change is going to take some getting used to. I mostly hear the term "babysit" used when a woman has to ask the father of the children to watch them for a while so she can do something. It's used pretty equally by both. The men I referred to in my earlier post are openly more insulted by being expected to watch the children than the term.


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faith
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posted 24 April 2005 04:33 PM      Profile for faith     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
When I read this thread I was gratified to see men being proud of the involvement they have with their children but a little disconcerted with the hostiiity in their responses to the term babysitting. As I said in my post and Michelle eloquently stated in her statement , the term babysitting I had heard from men when with their own children ,and as Michelle pointed out, it originated with patriarchy. I doubt very much if it was stated as an insult, as most women see men involved with their families and want to reward that, their words are out of date but their sentiment ( at least any women I've spoken with & they have been many) is one of encouragement for men.
I get a little amused with men that are outraged over such a small misconception. I wonder what would happen if every time a woman's acitivity with her job , children ,or any work outside or inside the home was trivialized, reacted with as much indignation ?
Perhaps women wouldn't have to put up with their accomplishments or acitivities being belittled , who knows.
I too remembr when my husband went to waterbabies and the like and I stayed home to get some work done - he's the hero - I'm invisible, but supper was on the table when they came home.
Men spending time with their families due to sickness is definitely frowned upon in the work place at least in my experience. My husband , who is a tradesman, worked with a man with a very sick wife- although there were no kids left at home his wife could not take care of herself. This woman's problems were physical and mental and so the man took time off work. The other men on the site sneered, laughed behind his back, resented him even asking for time off and the man was eventually layed off - ' lack of work' was the excuse and it was a lie.

From: vancouver | Registered: Aug 2003  |  IP: Logged
James
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posted 24 April 2005 06:13 PM      Profile for James        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by faith:
I was gratified to see men being proud of the involvement they have with their children but ..[and] .... I get a little amused with men that are outraged over such a small misconception.

Well, you see, faith, therein lies the problem. You characteriz what the real men who answered the initial question put by Hailey as "being proud of the involvement ..." Another poster with no direct experience in the issue puts it as "self-congratulatory". I have repeatedly reread the posts of the many fathers who have reponded here and nowhere do I find a sentiment that sounds in "pride" or in "self congratulation". What I read is parents who are, first and foremost, parents, filling the real and natural role of parents, and who find it very hurtful to be characterized by society as "babysitters.

As an aside, it is interesting to review the comments of all those who contributed from the perspective of being raised in large part by fathers. They aren't saying, "Well, I'm so proud of his exceptional contribution"; no, they are saying "He was my parent, he acted as such, I love him as such".

Then, you trivialize the hurt that the sexist insults these people are reacting to as "small misconception"(s). The most important element of my identity is that of a parent. The most significant contribution I have, or ever will make in my time on this earth is as a parent. If you read the posts of GrantR and others above, you we realize that they feel the same. They bear their heart and soul in saying how hurtful, how denigrating it is to hear their primary identity described as "baby-sitting". Yet some here would "pooh-pooh" those emotions.

This thread was very informative, perhaps even catarctic until about the halfway point. Then it seems, those instincts that think that this community, this board, should be all feminist theory, all the time, in every forum, on every thread saw fit to interject that perspective.

As a result, this discussion, one that was quite re-inforcing for young and prospective fathers has died. We have lost some very progressive babblers. And we are the worse for all of that.

Then, you trivialize the hurt


From: Windsor; ON | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged
James
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posted 24 April 2005 07:30 PM      Profile for James        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
bump: only because those now held responsible should have a chance to respond.
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Hailey
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posted 24 April 2005 08:58 PM      Profile for Hailey     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I am very sad that the whole thread turned into this. I hate quarrelling.

I also didn't predict or realize that it would get tied in with feminist theory and all of the divisiveness that can unfold.

quote:
I've met a lot of men in this corner of the world who expect a hero bickie for "helping their wives". This could mean anything from merely playing with the baby to washind dishes ( oh the indignity!)


Fundamentally I think that the whole idea of a hero bickie is attached to men and women who see children not as a blessing but as a burden to be shared. These are the same people that stand within two feet of their children at the grocery store in the month of august telling everyone who will listen how GLAD they will be when their children are back in school and "out of their hair". I've often wondered how that little person feels standing there being framed as a burden.

My father spent time regularly with us growing up. It was never done it in a begrudging spirit either. My father always made each of us so aware that we blessed his life. I can't imagine how contaminated my self image would be if I was passed around as something inconvenient that needed to be fitted in between other more important obligations.

When we were with either of our parents they always tried to make sure we had time where "the clock stopped". I really do believe that my father is the reason that all of my sisters and myself expected to be treated well within marriage. Of all the relationships I have held in life the most influential and instrumental has been with my father.

I would be saddened if my husband chose to look after any child we had in the spirit of dividing the burden. Feminist theories about historical childcare patterns, an appropriate division of labour, and sharing a perceived burden with your wife are not good reasons to look after children. You should look after your children because it is your heart's desire to have a relationship with them.

quote:
Maybe fathers feeling they are not accepted in play groups and such is due to the fact that such hands-on parenting is still fairly rare, though I'm very glad to see that it is increasing.

One thing I will say is that Grant's post made me re-think how I treat fathers at play activities. I've always ignored them. I'll have to re-think that.

quote:
I doubt very much if it was stated as an insult, as most women see men involved with their families and want to reward that, their words are out of date but their sentiment ( at least any women I've spoken with & they have been many) is one of encouragement for men.
I get a little amused with men that are outraged over such a small misconception

It wasn't intended as an insult when I heard it. It was more a statement of perceived fact. Their intentions were right.

That being said upon further reflection I can understand that it would be hurtful to hear words that you believe undermine your parent-child relationship. That to me isn't a small misconception - it's your kids.

quote:
I wonder what would happen if every time a woman's acitivity with her job , children ,or any work outside or inside the home was trivialized, reacted with as much indignation ?
Perhaps women wouldn't have to put up with their accomplishments or acitivities being belittled , who knows.

I see this with a completely different lens. I don't see this at all about how we view women and their role in the world. I think it's about how we see children and the limited value we place on them. If you ask women who stay at home I think you will find a significant chunk of them will not express that they feel that that role is treated as value.

quote:
other men on the site sneered, laughed behind his back, resented him even asking for time off and the man was eventually layed off - ' lack of work' was the excuse and it was a lie.

I can see that happening

quote:
I have repeatedly reread the posts of the many fathers who have reponded here and nowhere do I find a sentiment that sounds in "pride" or in "self congratulation". What I read is parents who are, first and foremost, parents, filling the real and natural role of parents, and who find it very hurtful to be characterized by society as "babysitters.

I saw the posts as being about pleasure and thankfulness at the opportunity to share a more valuable relationship with a child beyond the role of a provider.

I believe that most people at the end of their life will characterize their most valuable relationships as the ones they share with their children. Who would want their most valuable relationship framed as a babysitter relationship?

quote:
Then, you trivialize the hurt that the sexist insults these people are reacting to as "small misconception"(s). The most important element of my identity is that of a parent. The most significant contribution I have, or ever will make in my time on this earth is as a parent. If you read the posts of GrantR and others above, you we realize that they feel the same. They bear their heart and soul in saying how hurtful, how denigrating it is to hear their primary identity described as "baby-sitting". Yet some here would "pooh-pooh" those emotions.


It was very clear from Grant's words that his enjoyment of being a parent is genuine and sincere. It's obviously a guiding piece in his life. I think he genuinely would be hurt by someone calling him a babysitter.

quote:
As a result, this discussion, one that was quite re-inforcing for young and prospective fathers has died. We have lost some very progressive babblers. And we are the worse for all of that.

Then, you trivialize the hurt


I have to admit my mind is a civ and I don't tend to remember the posting themes and personalities of more than about ten people. That's so sad I know! I tend not to carry issues between threads as a result which I guess is a plus but for the most part I'm pretty dense about retaining that stuff.

Grant's post in this thread though I think would have made me remember him more clearly. He has an admirable affection for his kids.

I am sorry that the thread deteriorated this and I wish I hadn't begun the discussion.


From: candyland | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
Hinterland
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posted 24 April 2005 09:26 PM      Profile for Hinterland        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
I am sorry that the thread deteriorated this and I wish I hadn't begun the discussion.

...*Tsk*. Such regret, when faced with the hardship God tests us with, seems weak. Regrets are quite often an indication of loss of faith, Hailey.

Cheer up. After all, the Rapture's not far away.

[ 24 April 2005: Message edited by: Hinterland ]


From: Québec/Ontario | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
James
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posted 24 April 2005 09:28 PM      Profile for James        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Hailey:
I am sorry that the thread deteriorated this and I wish I hadn't begun the discussion.[/QUOTE}
Hailey, You have absolutely no fault in this. The question you raised was entirely innocoulous, one that any new parent might wonder over, and one that any thinking human being should consider.

Your question prompted many "very real" statements, both from fathers and from babblers raised by fathers. Those are all things that need to be said. They are things that are "humanity positive", and that in no way require a "feminist theory rebuttal". Indeed, anyone whose interest in feminist issues went beyond their desire to preserve a personal soap-box would acknowledge that there is no more positive force than men who embrace equality in child-raising and domestic obligations.

[ 25 April 2005: Message edited by: James ]


From: Windsor; ON | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged
rasmus
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posted 24 April 2005 09:42 PM      Profile for rasmus   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by James:
bump: only because those now held responsible should have a chance to respond.

"Now held responsible" -- by you, I suppose, though you don't mention it. I don't recall when you were appointed Grand Inquisitor.


From: Fortune favours the bold | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
James
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posted 24 April 2005 10:13 PM      Profile for James        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by rasmus raven:

"Now held responsible" -- by you, I suppose, though you don't mention it. I don't recall when you were appointed Grand Inquisitor.


Listen, rasmus (whatever the hell that means); I am who I am, and I'm not afraid to be who I am.

Untill and unless you have similar courage and principle, you have nothing to say to me. Be gone.


From: Windsor; ON | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged
Wilf Day
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posted 24 April 2005 11:12 PM      Profile for Wilf Day     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Michelle:
I also want there to be recognition that the whole "helping" or "babysitting" mindset comes from a place of patriarchy in society, not from bigotry against men.

This seems non-controversial to me. Obviously not all men who find ourselves living in a society still marred by patriarchy are MCPs. I hope all the people on this thread who agree with each other's outlook while questioning each other's phraseology can just take a deep breath.


From: Port Hope, Ontario | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged
James
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posted 24 April 2005 11:17 PM      Profile for James        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Thank you, Wilfred. That needed saying.
From: Windsor; ON | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged
faith
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posted 24 April 2005 11:39 PM      Profile for faith     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I can't believe that my post provoked anger , even Hailey herself in her very first post characterized the women's comments exactly the way I characterized them - as a complimentary form of interest in their family that was filled with approval - it was her husband that chose to take offense.
I simply meant that women put up with this kind of stereotyping of their roles every friggin day.
For men to say things like "jump down their throats", find it "difficult to control their anger", or how about "rip your heart out with my blue painted hands" eeewwwww scary!, get over yourselves. I have been confronted with male stereotyping all of my life, comments on my appearance, assumptions about my work status, even stepping in and assumming an authoratative role with my children in the absence of my husband sometimes to the point of a lecture on discipline. The comments from others don't say anything about you or the role you play in your children's lives, what they do give a picture of is the mindset of the person making the comment. Losing your temper when strangers are making an admittedly awkward attempt at conversation will not correct their misconceptions about you they will just wonder why they ever started talking to the maniac in the first place.

From: vancouver | Registered: Aug 2003  |  IP: Logged
James
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posted 25 April 2005 12:16 AM      Profile for James        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by faith:
I have been confronted with male stereotyping all of my life ...

Guess what, faith. This particular thread isn't about YOU. If you can get over the shock of that, perhaps you'll have something constructive to add.

[ 25 April 2005: Message edited by: James ]


From: Windsor; ON | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 25 April 2005 01:03 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Wilf Day:
This seems non-controversial to me. Obviously not all men who find ourselves living in a society still marred by patriarchy are MCPs. I hope all the people on this thread who agree with each other's outlook while questioning each other's phraseology can just take a deep breath.

What's an MCP?

Otherwise, I agree with you, Wilfred. I didn't think that what I posted was really all that controversial at all, especially considering that I went out of my way to recognize men who are taking on their share of the domestic responsibilities. Which is why I am amazed at the ridiculous responses and accusations I got after posting it. I mean, look at the ridiculous things people have accused me of in this thread, whether directly, or in a cowardly indirect fashion.

I was accused of saying that all men who are involved with their children are posers - where on earth did I say that? I was accused of saying all men are trying to shirk their responsibilities - where did I say that? I was accused of not acknowledging men who are carrying their share of domestic duties, when I most clearly DID acknowledge that.

Then I responded to those unfair accusaionts, and I admit, I wasn't demure and ladylike about it - so sorry about that - it kind of irks me when people write bold-faced lies about me - and then I was accused of wrecking the thread by introducing (oh, horror of horrors, run away everyone, man-hating lesbian feminist bitch alert!) feminist theory.

So basically how it went was like this:

I wrote a post that several people on this thread have admitted was pretty non-controversial - the fact that this whole "babysitting" and "helping" characterization has its roots in patriarchal oppression rather than in bigotry against men.

Then someone comes along and accuses me of saying a whole bunch of crap I didn't say.

Then I defended myself, and told my accuser that to back up his accusations against me. Which my accuser then chose not to do (because he couldn't), choosing instead to flounce, magnamously forgiving me for my nasty, feminist bullying ways on the way out.

And then, the asshole posse rode to the rescue of the poor, put-upon man who was picked on by the big bad feminist, repeating all of the same unsubstantiated, clearly untrue accusations, and furthermore attempting to bully two of the people who defended me against his false accusations.

So thank-you, Wilfred, and rasmus and faith too, for recognizing that what I had originally posted was clearly not man-hating or controversial or even all that terribly deep feminist theory. It makes me feel much better that there are at least some people who don't buy into feminist stereotypes.

[ 25 April 2005: Message edited by: Michelle ]


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
pogge
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posted 25 April 2005 01:23 AM      Profile for pogge   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Michelle:
What's an MCP?

I presumed it stood for Male Chauvinist Pig.


From: Why is this a required field? | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
Wilf Day
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posted 25 April 2005 01:24 AM      Profile for Wilf Day     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Michelle:
What's an MCP?

Now, you've made my day. Thank heavens we are past the era when that cliche was common knowledge.

Male Chauvinist Pig.


From: Port Hope, Ontario | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged
Raos
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posted 25 April 2005 01:28 AM      Profile for Raos     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
I have to admit my mind is a civ and I don't tend to remember the posting themes and personalities of more than about ten people.

[pedantry] I think you meant to say your mind is a sieve. [/pendantry]

I think everybody who's arguing is arguing from very valid points, and a few people are just taking a few things a bit too personally. I think a lot of the fathers who have reacted negatively to comments in this thread are just really hurt, because where they thought that maybe some of the women, who they do understand are very personally aware of what gender stereotyping and sexist condecension can feel like, are not responding with understanding and support that the fathers were expecting. Instead, they're hurt that they received a cold shoulder with what came across as "big deal, we've endured much worse, it's about time you started doing something." And I don't think trying to prove that it could be worse does anybody any good, as there's almost always going to be a group of people who are in a worse situation. And again, I think the fathers were expecting that the feminists here, who belong to a group who has fought for recognition of family duties, and who have fought against the pain and discrimination that can come from words intended innocuously, or even in good faith, would continue to fight for the same ideals, regardless of the gender to which the discrimination is occuring.


From: Sweet home Alaberta | Registered: May 2004  |  IP: Logged
James
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posted 25 April 2005 01:28 AM      Profile for James        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
O.K., folks; I guess in the above several inches of text, Michelle may have exculpated herself. Whatever.

Anyway, the topic was fatherhood, and how it is denigrated.

Carry on.


From: Windsor; ON | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged
Hephaestion
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posted 25 April 2005 06:57 AM      Profile for Hephaestion   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
O.K., folks; I guess in the above several inches of text, Michelle may have exculpated herself.

Whew!!! The guv'ner's pardon has come through, Michelle! Your sentence has been commuted!

Isn't there an intersection somewhere that needs a crossing guard, James?!

Jeeeeee-zuz!

Attention K-Mart Shoppers! Blue Light Special, Aisle Six... Teapots now on Sale, only $4.99. Perfect for all your smaller-sized tempests... Attention K-Mart Shoppers!...


From: goodbye... :-( | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
Anchoress
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posted 25 April 2005 07:11 AM      Profile for Anchoress     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Um don't speak too soon Heph; Michelle may have exculpated herself. Don't throw the pardon party just yet.
From: Vancouver babblers' meetup July 9 @ Cafe Deux Soleil! | Registered: Nov 2003  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 25 April 2005 08:05 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Wilf Day:
Now, you've made my day. Thank heavens we are past the era when that cliche was common knowledge.

Male Chauvinist Pig.


Oh! Of course! Wow, that didn't even occur to me. I'm quite familiar with that phrase itself, just never seen it in acronym form.

It's funny, I was racking my brain trying to figure out different acronyms, and coming up with absolutely nothing.

Heph and Anchoress:


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
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posted 25 April 2005 08:23 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I am tempted to make a small, modest generalization about fathers I have known, about a pattern I have observed among some of the men I have known best. (And already in the back of my mind I can hear an organist playing, "Yield not to temp-taaa-tion ..." )

I emphasize that I am talking about Men I Have Known. A Few Men, of My Personal Acquaintance. So this is not a stereotype, right? And it occurs to me that I know men like this partly because I am me -- that is, grow up with one pattern, and perhaps one then either reproduces that pattern in adult life or attracts others who reproduce the pattern. I can certainly imagine that that dynamic partly explains what I am about to describe.

So let's not take this too personally, brothers and sisters (but especially the brothers).

When I was very young -- like, four? -- long before I could have described this dynamic to you, I had already figured out that my father was simply gooey-mad smitten IN LOVE with his children (which made him such a soft touch). All his children, in more or less the same way. I had also noticed that my mother loved us deeply too, but quite differently. Mother had such a sharp eye, such psychological acuity. She was not a soft touch. She knew exactly who each of us was, exactly how different we were -- she knew what I was thinking waaaay too fast for my comfort sometimes -- she had my number. I always knew that too. Made life interesting.

(I emphasize that I adored both my parents, who were to me immensely admirable individuals, both of them, but interestingly different in their admirability and their strengths -- have I made that point clear?)

All the family groupings that I have known very well, from very close up (purely anecdotal evidence, yes yes yes, I know that) ever since, seem to me to have partaken quite a bit of that pattern. All the fathers I know are gooey smitten IN LOVE with their children, whereas I regularly observe that sharp, critical eye cast by the mamas, sometimes on their children and sometimes on their soft-touch smitten husbands.

Obviously, we can't draw a scientific conclusion from my limited observations, but in my loose, anecdotal way I will at least confess that I have come to expect many men to be extremely emotional about fatherhood, in a way that women (the women I know) are not, exactly, about motherhood.

Sorry, but that's what I keep seeing. Have a nice day, everyone.


From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
aRoused
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posted 25 April 2005 09:38 AM      Profile for aRoused     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
skdadl reminds me of something John Ralston Saul (I know, I know, bear with me for a minute!) wrote about men, women and war. Words to the effect that men tend to romanticize war and bloodshed (and perhaps parenting?) because they don't have to deal with the realities of bleeding profusely on a monthly basis (or, carrying a kid for 9 months then expelling it, with all the attendant discomforts and sacrifices).

Do with it as you will.

On a side note, is it not a little bit hypocritical when a regular poster beats another regular poster down with 'who made you the sheriff?' comments? Some kind of dueling post-counts?


From: The King's Royal Burgh of Eoforwich | Registered: Dec 2001  |  IP: Logged
rasmus
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posted 25 April 2005 10:14 AM      Profile for rasmus   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
On a side note, is it not a little bit hypocritical when a regular poster beats another regular poster down with 'who made you the sheriff?' comments? Some kind of dueling post-counts?

No, it's about saying things like so and so has now been held responsible and must respond, and impatiently bumping the thread up to tell them that, and then declaring without a trace of irony that they may have exculpated themselves... or don't you see the difference between this and what you have said?


From: Fortune favours the bold | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
aRoused
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posted 25 April 2005 11:32 AM      Profile for aRoused     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Nope, I just see site regulars hectoring each other.
From: The King's Royal Burgh of Eoforwich | Registered: Dec 2001  |  IP: Logged
rasmus
malcontent
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posted 25 April 2005 12:03 PM      Profile for rasmus   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Whatever.
From: Fortune favours the bold | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
ronb
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posted 25 April 2005 12:59 PM      Profile for ronb     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The connection between babysitters and patriarchy is a bit tenuous. Nannies and all of that - sounds more like a class thing.
From: gone | Registered: Jan 2002  |  IP: Logged
Melsky
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posted 25 April 2005 01:13 PM      Profile for Melsky   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by ronb:
The connection between babysitters and patriarchy is a bit tenuous. Nannies and all of that - sounds more like a class thing.

I don't think so. People are calling dads babysitters because they are not normally "supposed" to take care of children. Taking care of children is "women's work" in a patriarchial society. So being surprised that the appropriate parent is not watching the child is a result of patriarchy.

Babysitting is far, far from a wealthy person's nanny. I can't see any class issue here at all.


From: Toronto | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
brebis noire
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posted 25 April 2005 01:24 PM      Profile for brebis noire     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
To me, 'babysitting' is just another one of those kooky English words that furriners find amusing and....kooky. It somehow ended up being incorporated into regular usage, and for most people, it's just a word we use to designate what we do when we are looking after (someone else's) kids. (so to me, when used by a dad, it sounds very kooky to me....)Webster's dic, after all, specifies it as a word used when caring for children in the absence of their parents... I'd love to have a linguist's take on the history of this word.

In French, parents use words like "on s'occupe des enfants" "on amuse les enfants" "on surveille les enfants" and "on garde les enfants" - but the last one can have different meanings, including "j'ai la garde des enfants": I have custody of the children. La gardienne (and less frequently, le gardien) is the babysitter. But a dad would never, ever call himself 'le gardien' - even if he doesn't spend that much time with the kids on a regular basis.


From: Quebec | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 25 April 2005 01:33 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I don't know. I don't see referring to a father's care as "babysitting" to be benign at all. It's true that it's a strange word in and of itself, but that's not really the point. The point is, when someone says a father is "babysitting" his own children, they're assuming that caring for children is the mother's job, and that the father is just helping out.

This is why it definitely IS a feminist issue, and always has been. I don't agree that it's a class issue at all. It has nothing to do with class - people from all walks of life have babysitters. I've seen people from low income to high income use the term "babysitting" to refer to fathers caring for their own children. And the assumption being made isn't a class assumption - it's a gender role assumption.


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
brebis noire
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posted 25 April 2005 01:56 PM      Profile for brebis noire     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I didn't say it was benign. I said it was kooky - by that I meant dysfunctional.
From: Quebec | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
Coyote
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posted 25 April 2005 02:32 PM      Profile for Coyote   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Michelle:

This is why it definitely IS a feminist issue, and always has been. I don't agree that it's a class issue at all. It has nothing to do with class - people from all walks of life have babysitters. I've seen people from low income to high income use the term "babysitting" to refer to fathers caring for their own children. And the assumption being made isn't a class assumption - it's a gender role assumption.


Might I suggest that there are elements of both in the issue, insofar as it is a function of the gendered division of labour.

From: O’ for a good life, we just might have to weaken. | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 25 April 2005 04:05 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
You might suggest it, but then I would be forced to disagree.

Seriously, Coyote, this is first and foremost a gender issue, not a class issue. I mean, I know there are a lot of overlaps when it comes to race, class, and gender oppression, and I know that some people believe that class trumps all no matter what, but in this case, it really is a gender issue primarily. When a father is asked if he is "babysitting" or identifies himself as "babysitting", it is a gender issue. It is not a class assumption that is being made when fathering is called "babysitting" - it's a gender assumption. The assumption being that because he's the male parent, he's merely helping or filling in for the female parent, no matter what economic strata they belong to.

[ 25 April 2005: Message edited by: Michelle ]


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Coyote
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posted 25 April 2005 04:55 PM      Profile for Coyote   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Let us agree, Michelle, that this is first and foremost an issue of gender. I will acknowledge that up-front. But, just as I think a gender analysis is fruitful in most (if not all) discussions of class, I do think a class analysis can be helpful in this instance.

Consider: I agree with you that "baby-sitting", as such, knows few class lines in the realm of obtaining those services. However, there is very much a class line in terms of who can perform that role for what class strata. To put it plainly: It is appropriate for a poorer person to care for another person's children; it is all but unheard of for the rich to care for the children of someone in a lower income bracket (outside, of course, from family relations, etc.)

So we come to the issue of "fathering" as "babysitting". As already agreed, the majority of the disdain for such an activity, where said disdain exists, stems from a patriarchal mind-set and the notion of "woman's work" and "men's work". But I would suggest that a part of the discrimination is class-based, in that there is an implicit taking on of an economically subordinate role.

Now, I'll admit I might be stretching a little. I've never really thought about this issue, and I have to say I have never heard anyone describe a father as "babysitting", at least in my memory. I'll ask my parents about it.

As for points of intersection, this may be one coming at pretty odd angles. But I do think there is room to explore and work with there, within the framework of a Feminist critique (which, might I add, is the root of some of the best class analysis).


From: O’ for a good life, we just might have to weaken. | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged
Timebandit
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posted 25 April 2005 05:47 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
But I just wanted to make sure that the point wasn't lost, that this phenomenon didn't originate as discrimination against men. This whole mindset of the man "babysitting" comes from the oppression of women - the idea that the domestic and child-rearing stuff is "women's work" and that men who do any of it are "helping". That is a patriarchal mindset, one that has been traditionally perpetuated by male power within society. The people I hear using this term are generally sexist men, or women who are going along to get along.

Perhaps that isn't the origin of the use of the term "babysitting" in relation to fathers caring for their children, but I have a wee quibble -- possibly much like Grant's exception to some of the comments in the thread.

Yes, it's a patriarchal mindset. But it's a patriarchal mindset held by both men and women. In some ways, most women are more or less colluding with their own oppression in this regard, and a few others.

I'm thinking in these terms, partly, because of a bell hooks quote I used in the final exam for the class I was teaching, regarding colonialism: "Colonization made of us the colonized - participants in daily rituals of power where we, in strict sado-masochistic fashion, find pleasure in ways of being and thinking, ways of looking at the world that reinforce and maintain our positions as the dominated. Any coming to critical consciousness simply heightens the reality of contradictions. We are often silent about how we cope with those contradictions. To focus on them is to expose our complicity, to expose the reality that even the most politically aware among us are often compelled by circumstances we do not control to submit, to collude." (Stylish Nihilism: race, sex and class at the movies)

Maybe it's a stretch to apply this to the patriarchal oppression of women, but I think there are parallels. I know women who complain about the inequity of the division of household labour in their marriages, but when her husband does try to take some of the load, she says its all wrong and takes it out of his hands. We all do it -- we complain about the lack of help and then criticize the effort. We (both women and men, and likely a gross generalization at that) take on roles that we may not be completely comfortable in, but maintain all the same because it is what we know, it is potentially more comfortable than stepping out of it.

In other words, in reference to this topic, find me a woman who complains about how useless her husband is at housework, and I'll bet there's at least a 50/50 chance that she won't let him do it anyway.

I think it is too easy to make men the oppressors and women the victims when the patriarchal system is far more complex than that. Some women participate in patriarchy, and some men suffer from it. Playing the "my oppression is bigger than your oppression" game doesn't solve anything. In fact, it only serves to divide people who are working to the same ends -- equality for both sexes.

[ 25 April 2005: Message edited by: Zoot ]


From: Urban prairie. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
ronb
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2116

posted 25 April 2005 06:17 PM      Profile for ronb     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
But I would suggest that a part of the discrimination is class-based, in that there is an implicit taking on of an economically subordinate role.

Exactly. Patriarchy may define child-rearing as women's work, but it's capitalism that defines it as poor or powerless women's work that wealthy women needn't be burdened with, and that's where the whole idea of babysitters comes from.

Don't misunderstand, I know perfectly well what the older generation's gender expectations about parenting are - I deal with them frequently myself - but I do feel that babysitting - paying someone else to watch your kids - as a concept owes at least as much to class structures as gender.

It doesn't surprise me that there is a backlash to the shifting gender roles in parenting. I have experienced it quite pointedly within my own extended family - the Nana who frowns on dad changing diapers is the same one who is likely to refer to dad taking care of the kids as "babysitting". I take it with much the same grain of salt as I do the comments about "those people coming over here and stealing our healthcare". Outmoded thinking.


From: gone | Registered: Jan 2002  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 478

posted 26 April 2005 08:24 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
I think it is too easy to make men the oppressors and women the victims when the patriarchal system is far more complex than that. Some women participate in patriarchy, and some men suffer from it. Playing the "my oppression is bigger than your oppression" game doesn't solve anything. In fact, it only serves to divide people who are working to the same ends -- equality for both sexes.

Y'see, the feminism I knew never did that. I don't remember ever being simple-minded enough to think that we were making vulgar equations like that: men = oppressors, women = victims.

God: all those conscious-raising sessions in the late sixties, early seventies: much of that was self-criticism, self-analysis, an attempt to do the very thing that your wonderful quotation from hooks talks about: to recognize the complex dynamics of patriarchy, which are much more subtle than a blame-game.

The portrayal of second-wave feminism as a blame-game is, in fact, part of the co-opting of feminism since the early eighties, which has itself been a complex process of both commercializing/sentimentalizing women's "new" roles and, to a degree, trashing more political versions of feminism -- the beginnings of the backlash.

In other words, the patriarchy strikes again.

[ 26 April 2005: Message edited by: skdadl ]


From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
brebis noire
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 7136

posted 26 April 2005 09:20 AM      Profile for brebis noire     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I know many men with very patriarchal views and I really don't believe any of them would say they were babysitting when looking after their own children. For one thing, they have a very strong notion of ownership of their kids and babysitting would severely undermine that sentimental and proprietal belief.

I personally think that if men say or accept that they are babysitting (their own kids) it's an indication that there's an emotional disconnect going on, whether they realize it or not. I'm not sure just how that's related to patriarchy; I'd venture that it has more to do with emotional detachment or a desire to be uninvolved. Maybe that is tacitly encouraged by some type of consumerist patriarchy, but somebody would have to convince me of that.

[ 26 April 2005: Message edited by: brebis noire ]


From: Quebec | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
Bookish Agrarian
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 7538

posted 26 April 2005 11:26 AM      Profile for Bookish Agrarian   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
After receiving an email about some of the above comments about me I initially figured I would just ignore it. However, upon reflection, it wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who I am and the unfounded implication that I am anti-feminist, sexist or whatever it actually is shouldn’t be allowed to stand unchallenged as these issues are very important to me, so this is for posterity and it might be best for everyone to just ignore.
I tried to deal with this in a decent, private way without involving anyone else to try and be fair. However, I was sent such a vitriolic response I feel I must publicly defend my ‘reputation’ before I get back to my real life instead of spending so much time here

Firstly to be clear, I am forever grateful for the women who have fought for feminist causes. I am a direct beneficiary of that fight because as a result of their effort and struggle I too am able to be who and what I want to be, an open and caring father who is the major primary care-giver for our children. I owe a large debt for that and I do my best to repay and I try to acknowledge it as often as I can, because I think it’s important. At one point in my life I struck some kind of jackpot and have had the great good fortune and unbelievable luck to spend my life since with a strong feminist who takes no guff from anyone. I have been interacting with feminists since birth, whether they called themselves that or not. So accusing me of reacting to ‘feminist bullying’, not my term, is as laughable as it is delusional. What I won’t do is engage with people who confuse belligerence with strength, whether I agree with their general views or not.

In response to the comment about men being the ones to make such ‘babysitting” comments I said:

quote:
As a father who has had this comment directed at me it has only ever come from women and for some reason either older women or younger women, not the large group in between. And men are definately not made to feel welcomed at drop-in centres and the like from many women either.
I must be old fashioned but I always understood feminisim to be about freeing us all from sexism whether we are women or men. Making such broad statements about men is just as role defining as expecting that a woman has to be the one to change the diaper.

What I got was a very angry response that had nothing to do with what I posted. I was referring to the women in the Drop-In Centres who I have heard complaining about men, but who give men who show up the cold shoulder, not any Babblers. I have experienced this for a decade, so it’s not like I just noticed it last Tuesday at 3 pm. And although things have changed some, it’s still there and it is rooted in sexism and what is a proper place for women and men because I’ve seen it happen to every man who shows up. Maybe ‘statements’ wasn’t the right word, but as you can see I can barely spell, let alone write well. Despite the fact I was talking about something completely different what came back was:

quote:
So what you're saying is that the whole idea of men "helping" women or men "babysitting" their kids originated as female bigotry against men?
I think that's bullshit, frankly. Women, feminists, have had a much longer and harder time fighting this stereotype than men have. We started the fight, we fought to make it a mainstream idea, that men should be equally responsible for domestic duties, and we have been fought every inch of the way by domineering, sexist men, and sychophantic women who know on which side their bread is buttered

I was both taken aback and angered by this attack on me that included a bit about hero biscuits so when I responded I chose to respond to the snide ‘self-congratulatory’ comment I had intended to ignore. Was it wrong to respond to this comment as it really annoyed me, undoubtedly, but despite my best attempts I have not yet managed to become a saint. I am unsure how else to take such a comment like ‘self-congratulating’ in the context it was given as anything else but snide. I spoke from my heart about why I take offense from the term babysitting. Diminishing what someone says about a core thing to them as ‘self-congratulatory’ is both rude and suggestive of a dismissive attitude. The problem was that the switch from one comment to another left open room for interpretation I hadn’t thought of.
Anyway I said:

quote:
what I read in your post was the underlying assumption that ALL men are looking to slough off their responibilites. If we are ever to make progress, and boy we haven't made much, we need to accept that some men have actually moved away from old attitudes.
My back was up that you seemed to be suggesting those of us who are involved in our children's lives as joint primary caregivers are just posing.

Was it right to do so, probably not, but self-congratulatory sure comes off as meaning to demean what had been said by others. Later in the post, still not having any idea what set off the blast, because I couldn’t see how it was connected to what I wrote but obviously something was not right I said in a very genuine way.
quote:
If I offend you I am sorry, I seem to be in a mood today, that was not my intent.

There was then a response made that initially was only a couple of lines- it has since been substantially edited, but with no indication of what was added. I started to respond to the original, but came to the conclusion that I should be using my time more wisely. I’ve been coming to the conclusion anyway that with all the things going on in my three dimensional world I was spending waaaay too much time on Babble. This was just the thing that made me ask, why are you arguing about this- you must have something more useful to do that has real world benefit. The comment was about what I should be doing, nothing more.
I’ve been accused of not responding to the long post and flouncing, I’ve also been accused privately of being a coward. Thing is, how do you respond to something that is added later and you don’t see. It’s disingenuous and unfair to make such a comment. I’ve also been accused of making statements about someone when they jumped to conclusions with no real basis to do so, or without asking a question, just assuming the worse and letting go with a full blast. And then making more snide comments about my genuine response when saying so long, followed with comments about my reactions that have no basis in reality. I’m sorry if I was brought up to understand that you don’t always have to respond like an asshole just because others have. I make no apology for it. The fact that my initial comments had absolutely nothing to do with the person in anyway, other than to express my experiences in relation to being a male primary care giver makes the reaction they got pretty strange.
So for the record nowhere did I ever accuse anyone of being a male-basher. I’ve never done it once in my life, the closest I’ve ever came was when my partner once hit me between the legs playing hockey. That was more like male-member bashing though. I did not make up ‘utter bullshit’. I challenged someone for making such dismissive comments about people who are trying their best to make change real, not just theory. I will continue to challenge people who’s sexism cause problems as well as those who’s cynicism does.
I am sorry about the length and the tone, I did warn you at the begining though, but if I’m going to be spoken about unfairly and untruthfully, and it left for the world to see- twisting who and what I am so completely I must respond. However, I really do have too much other stuff to do and Babble is so addictive it’s time to quit cold-turkey. Thank you to everyone for standing up for what you think is right, it is becoming ever more important in this world.


From: Home of this year's IPM | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged
brebis noire
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 7136

posted 26 April 2005 11:42 AM      Profile for brebis noire     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Grant, I think posting that was the right thing to do. I understand the disconnect between the 'thinking' - which is what we do digitally on babble - and doing, which is what you need to do every day on the farm. Haying season is just around the bend, there's machinery to repair, fields to prepare, pasture fences to make sturdy, animals to tag, etcetcetc. The list goes on, and that's just when things are going well.

So when you're busy doing these necessary and vital things, you might not be doing a lot of "thinking" (in the sense that you are making your thoughts clear for others to read and learn from...) That's where I can see you've found babble to be useful and might prove to be in the future.

Anyways, I understand the need for you to go cold turkey at this point....and maybe I should have put this into a different thread.

And maybe the rest of us can take comfort in the fact that you'll be back one day? Or just lurking?


From: Quebec | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
Hephaestion
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 4795

posted 26 April 2005 11:49 AM      Profile for Hephaestion   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
...I’ve also been accused privately of being a coward.

THIS kind of thing pisses me off!


From: goodbye... :-( | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
Timebandit
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 1448

posted 26 April 2005 12:26 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by skdadl:

Y'see, the feminism I knew never did that. I don't remember ever being simple-minded enough to think that we were making vulgar equations like that: men = oppressors, women = victims.

God: all those conscious-raising sessions in the late sixties, early seventies: much of that was self-criticism, self-analysis, an attempt to do the very thing that your wonderful quotation from hooks talks about: to recognize the complex dynamics of patriarchy, which are much more subtle than a blame-game.

The portrayal of second-wave feminism as a blame-game is, in fact, part of the co-opting of feminism since the early eighties, which has itself been a complex process of both commercializing/sentimentalizing women's "new" roles and, to a degree, trashing more political versions of feminism -- the beginnings of the backlash.

In other words, the patriarchy strikes again.

[ 26 April 2005: Message edited by: skdadl ]


The real question, skdadl, is not what it was in the 1960s and early 1970s, rather what it is right now, what is happening in this thread.

I wasn't there for the consciousness-raising. I was in diapers and then in elementary school. I didn't come to feminism at all until the mid-80s. And there are aspects of feminism that gave me the willies then and continue to give me the willies to this day. Maybe that's when the blame-game started, I wouldn't know. But the role of woman as victim was paramount then, and we're apparently still clinging to oppression as a defining marker.

I see men who genuinely want and are working for positive change in roles involving parenting posting to this thread, and they can't do that without being reminded that, while some things might be tough for them, it's nothing compared to what women have had to put up with. Well, is that the point? So what? It's a bleeding non-sequitur. This isn't even in the feminist forum.

How does slapping supportive males upside the head further our cause? I'll give you a hint -- It doesn't.

There's also the assumption that all women want roles in parenting and household to change. Personally and anecdotally, I've seen some clear examples of the opposite, women who resist men's attempts to take on household and parenting tasks and then complain about how men don't do anything, or don't do anything right. Heck, I've caught myself doing it, and had to learn to stop. It's not easy. But the fact is we do participate in perpetuating role inequities, sometimes in small ways and sometimes in larger ways. My quibble was not whether Second Wave feminism saw women as victim and man as oppressor (although when I did learn about feminism, that was precisely the paradigm I was presented with, and continue to be presented with by many an academic feminist, consciousness-raising of 30 years ago or no), and that is what I see being perpetuated in this thread.

It's not constructive. It's also damned depressing.


From: Urban prairie. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 478

posted 26 April 2005 12:46 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I do not believe that I have slapped anyone upside the head, as you put it.
From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Timebandit
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 1448

posted 26 April 2005 12:51 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I didn't say that you did, skdadl, that's definitely not your style -- sorry if it sounded like that was my meaning. I was talking about other posters, who most certainly have. Grant, at any rate, certainly seems to feel slapped, and I don't blame him.

[ 26 April 2005: Message edited by: Zoot ]


From: Urban prairie. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 478

posted 26 April 2005 12:55 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
This is hard. There is a repeated slippage, and it happens between people who normally get along.

I would start a new thread about it if I could figure out how to put it. But I can't.

I see both sides. That is known as the suicide position.


From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
faith
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 4348

posted 26 April 2005 12:58 PM      Profile for faith     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I think that what has gone before us , in the history of our humanity, is all important in the here and now.
Society takes generations to change significantly , and attitudes are handed down from parent to child being altered slowly in the transition from past to present. Pointing out the difficulties women have had with perceptions of their gender forced upon them, confining them into strict gender roles is simply recognizing a fact of patriarchy and all the accompanying colonial attitudes that shaped and to some extent still shape our society.
The point ,IMO, was to point out that men taking on a traditional female role are experiencing a taste of that labelling or classification of their experience that women have been dealing with for centuries. It does not mean that women are suffering more but perhaps they have suffered longer, and know how to deal with the steretypical cliches in every day language that try to pigeonhole our experience. Women dealing with this kind of thing in my experience learn to look past the words and try to find the intent behind them. Men being outraged to the point of expressing violent language directed at a couple of middle aged women expressing interest in them and their families strikes me as being self centred and childish.
I was accused earlier in the thread of responding as if the thread was all about me , and that is exactly what I read in the male outrage that was inappropriate IMO.

From: vancouver | Registered: Aug 2003  |  IP: Logged
Sharon
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 4090

posted 26 April 2005 01:03 PM      Profile for Sharon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The portrayal of women as victims was never feminist but was a right-wing ploy to undermine the struggles and success of the women who were working for change. It's used to this day by people like Margaret Wente as a way of heaping scorn on the feminist movement -- and as a way of implying that she could make it in a man's world, with or without feminism. No victim she!

Wendy Luttrell wrote a book in 1984 in which she says, "The portrayal of women as helpless victims is ultimately a 'patriarchal' representation. In explaining the perpetuation of male dominance, all feminists are naturally concerned to avoid blaming the victim and one way of doing this is to emphasize the relative power of men over women. To over-emphasize this power, however, not only distorts reality, but also depreciates the power that women have succeeded in winning and minimizes the chances of further resistance."

This is how I have always seen it.


From: Halifax, Nova Scotia | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
v michel
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 7879

posted 26 April 2005 01:08 PM      Profile for v michel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by ronb:

Exactly. Patriarchy may define child-rearing as women's work, but it's capitalism that defines it as poor or powerless women's work that wealthy women needn't be burdened with, and that's where the whole idea of babysitters comes from.


Whoa, I have a problem with this. To me, this implies that using a babysitter is something spoiled rich women do to shirk their responsibilities. Maybe I am reading too much into this (entirely possible with the amount of coffee I've ingested!).

This is my problem with framing the babysitter-debate in class terms. Needing a respite from care-giving is normal and natural and cuts across class lines. Yes, having the cash for a sitter implies some disposable income. But feeling the need for a sitter occasionally is legitimate and valid for everyone: rich and poor, men and women, caregivers of children and of adults. It happens in all families. Sometimes the care is paid, sometimes unpaid, sometimes valued highly, sometimes seen as a burden, sometimes forced on others or done out of desperation... you get the point.

The common characteristic is that childrearing is usually thought of as women's work, and the babysitter is usually thought of as someone relieving a woman of some of that work. Hence equating fathering with "babysitting."

[ 26 April 2005: Message edited by: vmichel ]


From: a protected valley in the middle of nothing | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged

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