Year of the DadWritten by Ellie Hutchinson
Happy Year of the Dad! In case you missed the memo, this year in Scotland weâ€™re celebrating dads. However, a big barrier in celebrating dads is the fact thatÂ weâ€™re led to believe that straight men cannot be held responsible for babies.Â We see this across the board, be it economically, culturally, or in our own relationships.
Despite all the political chat over the years, we still have crappy paternity arrangements, men donâ€™t tend to work part time or flexibly, and many of them donâ€™t do caring on their own unless their partner is having a real treat, like doing the food shop, or going to the loo on her own. [#mumlife]
Culturally, weâ€™re full to the brim with lol films about useless hetero dads, because as we all know, men are hopeless fools when it comes to looking after people. Big spoiler:Â mums also have absolutelyÂ no clue about what weâ€™re doing, we just are expected to know ‘instinctively’. Meanwhile, dads get a free pass to be clumsy and fail, andÂ put nappies on backwards, but also be hilarious and just a big kid themselves because men! amirite? GAH.
Iâ€™m one half of a co-parenting team with my lovely partner, who also happens to be a great dad. Because he works some weekends, he was able to swing it so he got one day a week off to parent our daughter. On his own. Watch out baby, youâ€™re in for some serious hijinks and bad outfits!
In all seriousness,Â he does a great job, because just like me he loves his daughter. I do not for one minute believe that identifying as one particular gender makes you inherently better at parenting. But I do believe that structural sexism makes the useless dad myth a reality.
When we â€“ and I mean societyÂ â€“Â tell dads that their role is minimal, when we donâ€™t question how the workplace is structured to enable more men to work part time, when we donâ€™t hold absent fathers to account for caring and paying, when we blame single parents (mums mainly) for anything and everything, we enable this culture of useless dads and grateful mums.
Iâ€™m not going to throw a big party for my partner for taking care of his daughter, because hello, that is what parents do. It actually kind of annoys me that Iâ€™m supposed to feel lucky that he ‘looks after’ our daughter so I can leave the house to do more than go to work. I am lucky to have my partner, but not because he co-parents, co-cooks and co-cleans. This should be a given. Iâ€™m lucky because heâ€™s awesome, and funny and kind.
This year of the dad, letâ€™s go big and work towards a revolution. Iâ€™m talking a structural overhaul. Iâ€™m talking an end to the idea that men babysit their own kids.
We need proper paternity pay, work place equality, cultural changes around work/life balance. We also need better films about dads that donâ€™t involve dead mums or redundancy (the only two reasons men seem to care for their kids in pop culture). You guys need to stop saying youâ€™re babysitting, and stop saying youâ€™re useless. You are not- you are just a parent winging it, just like us mums.
Parenting isnâ€™t all tantrums and nappies;Â itâ€™s beautiful, and rewarding and fun (you get to sing songs and paint)! You guys are missing out on all this wonder if you choose not to be active in your childrenâ€™s lives. Your children need you, andÂ equality needs you too. Letâ€™s use the Year of the Dad to kill off the useless dad myth and start co-parenting!
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Ellie Hutchinson is a freelance feminist who also works in housing. She has supported folk at rape crisis centres, organised marches, hosted pro-feminist discos and compered pub quizzes all in the name of gender equality. She has trained people in everything from feminism, to online technology, to positive aspirations. She launched the first campaign in the UK to challenge the sharing of non-consensual images (otherwise known as revenge porn), founded Hollaback! Edinburgh and co-founded Edinburgh Feminist Network. She lives in Edinburgh with her daughter, her partner and her cat.Â Likes: family, friends, 90’s dance routines, mix tapes and the work of Channing Tatum. Dislikes: SEXISM. Tweet her @EllieHutch_