What are some common forms of sexism that men face ?
Seth Uttley, Writer, bibliophile, autodidact
Updated Aug 3, 2019
I’m a stay at home dad. It was a practical decision that my wife and I made together. I was a musician who started working toward writing and held odd jobs to pay the bills, she got a degree on IT and has a job with benefits. So her income was more stable and I’m, generally, the more patient and intellectual one in the relationship. I’m an emotionally supportive person and it doesn’t exhaust me in the same way it does her to deal with highly emotional children all day. So it all seemed logical and pragmatic to us.
My children both have mild developmental delays so we got them into therapy programs early to mitigate any long term disadvantages that may be caused by these delays. Even though I’m listed as the person to call for my children’s appointment changes, or anything else of that sort, almost everyone calls my wife first. She has to act as a middle man on a regular basis and no matter how often she tells them to make sure I’m the primary number on the account, and to call me, they call her. Mothers usually try to sit as far from me as possible in the waiting rooms at therapy. I often go out to the truck and listen to NPR because they’ll talk to each other but I feel like my presence is making them uncomfortable.
I get asked by women if I’m babysitting on a regular basis. Men tell my wife I’m a deadbeat and try to convince her to leave me for a “real man” who’ll take care of her (of course they almost always mean themselves). I get weird looks at the grocery store on a pretty constant basis. Women will stop and talk to my kids and wave at them but if I do the same many mothers will shield their children from me.
It’s really hard to find groups for stay at home parents when you’re a man, at least in Houston it is. Many groups are all women and they don’t really talk to me while my kids play. I sit silently while my children play with theirs. I did find a group that was more inclusive and it was apparently shocking for them to find out that I’m not just some stereotype incarnate.
I was at a birthday party for a 4 year old a few weeks ago (my oldest son is 4 as well) and a child fell down and got hurt. His mom wasn’t around but we’d been talking earlier and her son kept asking me questions so I knew he responded well to me. Since his mom wasn’t around and none of the other parents were responding I went and scooped the kid up and carried him toward the house where I knew his mom to be. She thanked me for soaking myself (it was a pool party) for her son but all the other parents responded with shock and consternation that I wasn’t his father. The conversation stayed on the subject of my comforting someone else’s kid for a good five minutes, to my great discomfort. I’ve seen women do the same thing at many playgroups and parties so I was baffled, it just seemed like the right thing to do to me and no one else was doing anything at all.
So, I’m not a babysitter, I’m a dad and I love my children just as much as any mom. I’m not a deadbeat, I spend more time with kids than any other father I know and I feed, teach, and clothe them the same as a mother would. My four year old has been reading since he was about 2 1/2, can count to 100, knows basic addition and subtraction, knows his colors and shapes (including rhombi, parallelograms and dodecahedrons); I don’t say this to brag (there’s no guarantee that being ahead now will mean anything later so bragging would be pointless) but to point out that I’m doing my best to prepare them for the world the same as any mother would. I work at it 24/7 the same as mothers have since time immemorial and it’s harder than any paying gig I’ve ever had. The safety of children is more important to me than your comfort with my gender or gender role. I am not less of a parent because I’m a man and I don’t understand how we can bitch about dads that aren’t there for their kids on the one hand and then negatively judge the dads who are there for their kids just because their family didn’t follow traditional gender roles.
Edit: Thank you, everyone, for your positive responses. It really is encouraging and it’s difficult for me to express how much I appreciate the verbal support, words do matter. I went to bed last night with less than 20 upvotes and woke up with about 400, I did not expect that. I’ve never really talked about this stuff (even my wife was only aware of a few of these examples) and it’s nice to feel like I can.