#WomenWednesday Who Loves Children More Than Women?

How many posts have you seen recently that went something like this:

“Well, women don’t really want to be in higher management positions. Men are happy to work more hours, but women feel more tied to being home with the children. Jobs that prevent themselves from doing that are not desirable.”

Now, a lot of women take issue with these kinds of posts not because women find children yucky but rather because there are actually a lot of women who do want to go for that big and elusive job. There are women who are willing to and who desire to work those 20-hour days.

However, something else gets lost in this story, and it’s becoming an increasingly glaring omission. See, the thing is, a lot of men would much rather stay at home with the kids than put everything they have into their careers. A lot of men are trying to shift their priorities that way, in fact. But if there are obstacles in the way of women climbing up the corporate ladder, there are equally out-dated and pretty ridiculous obstacles in the way of men who want to place home and family as higher priorities than a big paycheck.

It’s a no-win situation for everyone

The fact is that making broad generalizations about who loves their babies more hurts women and men in equal parts. If a woman wants to really excel in her career and resorts to sending her children to daycare, she is uncaring, or a cold woman who doesn’t care about her kids. By the same token, I think a lot of stay-at-home dads are viewed as unmotivated. On the other hand, men who do fit the image of working more than being at home are, like the working moms, viewed as distant and maybe cold when it comes to their kids.

Why do we do this to each other?

Oh, and by the way, not everyone wants kids

There is another aspect to this complicated business too. There are some women and some men who simply do not want families. They may not even want to get married. They may not even want to have pets. They want to fly solo with no worries and no compromises. Does that make them uncaring or unloving? I know plenty of people in this category and they are some of the kindest, best people I know, so my vote is for saying no. But is that not how society views these folks?

A new place for conversation to begin

In order to begin the conversations that will lead us to a more equal and fair place for men AND women, we must begin to understand that not everyone is driven by the same desires and motivations and that that is perfectly okay. In fact, that’s what makes the world so interesting. Some women want to stay at home with their kids once they reach that point in their lives. Some men want to do the same. Some women want to become extremely successful in their jobs more than they want families. Some men want to do the same.

To nurture a sense of equality, we must begin to treat people as individuals. We cannot make broad statements like, “Well, women aren’t paid as much cuz they love children more.” We can’t make broad statements like, “Well, men would rather work than stay at home with the kids.” And most importantly, we must begin to refrain from judging others whose desires and drives do not match our own.

Right?

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/efleming/1882086947/ via Creative Commons

11 comments
Josepf
Josepf

The weight of cultural expectations is both tremendous and insidious. Insidious because we are born into them like fish into water and cultural "norms" are simply what we do... Tremendous because it takes amazing energy and courage to go against what "seems" right (normal).

Moreover, we discriminate constantly. It's both an inbred survival trait (eat these blue berries, not those pink mushrooms) and a learned skill (Sesame Street's one of these things is not like another). So the first big step is @margiclayman 's "we must begin to understand that not everyone is driven by the same desires and motivations and that that is perfectly okay". Bold statement Margie, bold statement. Puts you over there (Sesame Street) in that Radical camp eating fruit loops and listening to Wind Chimes. :) (joke, [purely joking for effect))

Great conversation starter. Am looking forward to seeing how this series unfolds...

susangiurleo
susangiurleo like.author.displayName 1 Like

ONe of the reasons I left the "work for someone else" working world was because I couldn't find a place that would flex time enough so I could work full time AND be present for my young child. So I do my own thing now and I *gasp* can do BOTH!! On the days I work late, my husband takes up parenting our son (which we define as 'parenting' and not "helping mom out").

Often I think we buy into these stereotypes in our personal life as well because the culture of "moms at home/dads at work" is so ingrained. It often doesn't occur to us that we can work and be good/involved parents, so we force ourselves into artificial choices.

Which could bring on another rant (which I will spare you) about the trend to expect ourselves to be with our babies 24/7 and never allow them to have a babysitter or, heaven forbid, go to daycare. My son went to daycare a fwe days a week, goes to afterschool program and does summer camp while I work and we're both better for it.

dogwalkblog
dogwalkblog like.author.displayName 1 Like

I have all sorts of opinions on this, but just two I want to share. I see a lot of women refer to their stay-at-home partner as a "manny" or muse on social media channels that they want a manny, i.e., male nanny. It find the term incredibly offensive and derogatory. The other issue that chaps my bottom is the use of DH (Darling Husband) in social media channels. I understand characters are at a premium (140 or fewer) but DH is a back-handed, passive aggressive term. Even if you don't mean it to be, it is. Sometimes it is women who are perpetuating the stereotype of a "unmotivated" man more than any other group.

margieclayman
margieclayman moderator

@dogwalkblog I remember when I first started encounter the DH acronym online. Dear Husband or Darling Husband. Something about it rubbed me the wrong way as well but I never could quite put my finger on why. Maybe it's a hint of passive-aggressive like you say. Or maybe I just found it kinda gross :)

That's what I wanted to get at though. If you look at a lot of the commercials running these days, men are portrayed as inept (still) while women are portrayed as home magicians (still). Aren't we past that?

NicoleFende
NicoleFende

@margieclayman@dogwalkblog I always thought it meant Dear Husband, and while I don't use it never realized how it might be taken. I do say Hubby - is that offensive too? I don't mean it to be. He works hard, is very supportive of my entrepreneurial business, and is a great Dad.

Are we at risk of being oversensitive? Or is it (as Josepf says above) an insidious thing we need to guard against.

And for the record while I have a whole zoo at my house (kid, cats and a dog) I absolutely realize that is not for everyone, nor should it be.

dogwalkblog
dogwalkblog

@NicoleFende@margieclayman Hubby or hubs is fine.. it shows a cuddly layer of endearment that most men secretly like but would never admit in public :-) Conversely, though, wifey or the wife is NEVER wise to say.. ever... except to tell men to never say it.

I don't think we are being oversensitive. I think we are just all trying to find a common level of respect for each other while also trying to find the right words to describe what we mean specifically. Language is such a slippery thing and always has that huge bag of culture attached to it. Who knows, in 50 years, hubs might be the most offensive thing you can call anyone. But for now, it makes us kinda gooey inside.

NicoleFende
NicoleFende

@margieclayman@dogwalkblog Just realized it may not be clear, and can't seem to edit past comments. My husband works full time outside the home. My daughter goes to *gasp* daycare. String me up now.

SocialMediaDDS
SocialMediaDDS

@dogwalkblog I definitely agree with your concerns in principle. Those are terms that make me very uncomfortable as well. But, I think @margieclayman has correctly shared that instead of pointing out the disrespect and broad brush generalizations that society perpetuates (even encourages), it is time to take a new tack. It's time to create a new culture perhaps. A culture of acceptance and tolerance such that there will be no mannys or DH's or equally offensive labels given to women. We are all in this together so why can't we just support the lifestyles and life choices that each of us makes without all of the messy labels and judgments.

I loved this #WomenWednesday post @margieclayman Thank you!

Claudia

margieclayman
margieclayman moderator

@SocialMediaDDS@dogwalkblog Exactly right. I don't think it's appropriate to paint any group of people in one tiny way. That's how we create racial profiling and other things that I think we all can agree are not productive or useful. Peoples is peoples, according to the muppets.

douglaserice
douglaserice

Personally, I don't think anyone really likes babies. Let's face it. They're gross. I think we just ooh-and-ah over them and wax poetic about how cute they are to endure birthing/raising them. Too harsh?