Casual Sex(ism)

In Uncategorized on November 9, 2009 at 3:19 pm

The boy and I just got back from an appointment at the county health office.  Dylan is part of a cohort that is allowed to get the H1N1 influenza vaccine, so we hurried out the door in search of a shot this morning.  Once the paperwork was filled out (less onerous than usual) a nurse appeared and called us to follow her.

“Oh, you don’t have to work today,” she stated.  This may have seemed like a safe and polite way to start a conversation in her mind (giving her the benefit of the doubt) but to a stay at home father who is working on a history paper on gender ideology and fatherhood this is like lobbing a softly padded pink grenade.

The equivalent in my mind would be to observe this fifty-ish woman and state, “Oh, your husband let you out of the kitchen today.”  How well would that go over?  Ok, so I will admit that I am more sensitive to this kind of casual sexism than others, but I feel that it makes a point that is worth repeating: sexism works both ways.

Once I asserted that I was at work, that my wife was the primary breadwinner and I was the primary caregiver, she came around in a hurry.  The nurse mentioned a television news story she watched recently about involved fathers and how “nice” that is to see.  The error is forgivable, but clearly an error.  To observe my bulging muscles, manly beard, and two year old son and conclude that I am taking a temporary leave of absence from my traditional gender limited vocations is a kind of casual prejudice that props up the corpse of separate spheres gender ideology like a bad Weekend at Bernie’s movie.

Maria Shriver has released a report claiming that the battle of the sexes is over, and that women won.  In the mode that dominates today, women are not working for pin money, they are full economic partners; men are not merely playing with the kids on the weekend, they are parents who share in the joys and drudgery that accompany life with small children.

The fact is that the doctrine of separate spheres (wherein the male dominates the public and the female dominates the private sphere) had a good run over thousands of years that has thankfully come to an end.  We will continue to carry our biological differences as long as we have bodies, but it is our destiny to mute the outdated gender differences that we are dragging behind us like a tin can.

  1. Nice insights Lukas. My only addition would be to say that while I was staying home with our girls many people, including close friends, did not seem to understand what I was doing. While I believe the nurse in your story WAS motivated by casual sexism, I think the women who would ask me “So what do you DO all day?” because I didn’t have an outside job MAY have been motivated by jealousy (that I didn’t have to work and they did?). Maybe a future topic for Daddy Dispatch… Later dude.

  2. Excellent insights, and very well-said Lucky. I’m curious about the paper you mention, and hope I get to read it someday. Also, I’m reading this because, of course, I was prompted to by looking at baby pictures. So congrats again!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: