Let me tell you a little story…
A mother and her child are in a cafe, there is a kids corner in the cafe, and her child is playing with another kid in the play area. The other child’s parent is taking pictures of the kids playing. “Awe, aren’t they cute?!” The parents don’t know each other, but happen to leave the cafe at the same time. The picture taking parent asks the other, “Which way are you going? Maybe we can walk with you.” The other parent has errands to run, so declines the offer, but later that day they see the parent and their child in the park and they wave them over to see if the kids want to play together again.
This sounds like a friendly sort of neighbourhood, doesn’t it? I picture nice yards with white picket fences and the like. Now, let me ask you… when reading that story, did you assume both parents were mothers? Did you at any point find that story creepy or weird? Would you if I said the picture taking parent was a father, not a mother?
There has been this post being shared by people around on Facebook, and it’s got me all riled up. It’s very local, so I’m going to guess that most people haven’t seen it, but basically it is that story with the picture taking parent being a father (with maybe some more description to push you towards the creepy vibe). You should see how many people are ganging up on this father in the comments on this post…
Before we go all witch-hunt on the poor guy, perhaps we should take a step back and make sure that we aren’t discriminating against him for no other reason than he is a man?
Now, I know I was not there, so I don’t know all the particulars and I also know that in matters of safety, if your gut says something is creepy, it is best to go with your gut. And someone might say, “but you aren’t a mother, so you wouldn’t understand”, but as a woman who works in a male dominated field, I feel very strongly that if we expect equality in the work place, we need to display that same equality for men in a more traditionally female role. I want my future husband to be able to go to the park with our potential future kid and not be seen as creepy when he takes a picture of our kid playing with another kid, or asks if another kid wants to come play with our kid. I want him to not feel like “less of a man” if I choose to go back to work, and have him stay at home with the kids…
For all we know, this guy is a great dad who only sees his kid every other weekend, so when he does, he wants to take pictures to help remember that special time. And maybe he’s a really smart but extremely socially awkward computer programmer, so his social graces might be a little different than the average stay-at-home mom that frequents this cafe, but his kid really wants to hang out with another kid and play in the park. Maybe he is new to the neighbourhood and is trying to find a connection to the local community for both him and his kid. What gives us the right to assume the worst and hack him down on a public forum?
If you haven’t watched Emma Watson’s speech to the UN for the “He for She” movement, please do. And then join me in applauding this father for taking the path less traveled, and supporting gender equality in all forms.
So this is me, on my little feminist soap box, telling the world (and those Facebook father-haters) that as a feminist, working for gender equality, we need to be aware, not only of when we are discriminating against women just for being women, but we also need to be aware of when we are discriminating against men simply because they are men.