Regular readers – and I’m lead to believe that there are some – will know that our family has recently grown to four with the addition of our now three month old son, and that I do have some sympathy with breastfeeding mums. But I also have a bit of a battle as a father in a world where I have been the primary carer for our oldest, but where mothers remain the dominant demographic accommodated for in kiddicare and kiddilit.
I chose to ignore this fact most of the time, and pretend for the most part that fathers have an equal status in bringing up their kids. This is, of course, utter nonsense, but no one dare speak it. And far be it for me to point fingers, but this is a problem of fathers as much as it is mothers, and society as a whole, but I ain’t seeing any change in the status quo at the moment.
The most recent slap in the face for me about this inequality was a jaunt to Daunt Books on Tuesday of this week. Daunt’s is a beautiful place and a fine bookshop – do stop off at Marylebone High Street; it is wonderful – but, towards the back of the store they have a ‘mother and baby’ section of books. I was sorely tempted to ask where the father and baby section was, but a closer look at the books stuffed into a couple of crammed shelving units revealed that, actually, not many of these books are aimed at men. Not only is the branding, the colouring and the fonts used on these books clearly more feminine – pastel colours, curly lettering – but many of the titles reference mothering and mothers and seem to channel into an idea that somehow women are less capable of rearing children than they actually are. Look hard, and there may be a couple of dad’s books, which might appeal to the father who is recently divorced and forced to entertain their estranged offspring once a fortnight, or books appealing to the publishers idea that men will take a spectators view of the nine month pregnancy before forgetting all about raising them and going back to work.
As a chap who has taken time away from work to spend the majority of the week with his kids, I find this a bit galling. As a writer seeking to write a male perspective into women’s magazines, and finding that there isn’t much of an interest in this on the part of women’s magazines (please, someone, tell me different…), I feel disheartened. Women seem to want it both ways; the successful career and independent income with the loving family and secure household (combined with swishing hair and firm skin), and a role for bringing up the kids. For men, perhaps we’re too wrapped up in being employed and earning enough to fund this dream (as well as cars, football and the panacea of a firm stomach) that we don’t turn our attention to how we might take a greater role in both the work and the home life.
But I really don’t see how the rather blinkered view of both sexes might be broken if the world of one sex can’t be a greater part of the world of the other sex. Poop.