Unconscious Gender Biases at Home

Patient Zero; Patience Zero

Uh oh. That moment every parent dreads. Your child has just woken from their slumber and their head’s/body’s are a bit warmer than normal. So you do that thing where you take your child’s temperature eight or nine times and each time the thermometer confirms what you don’t want confirmed.

Yes, your child is sick.

The kind of sick where it’s irresponsible of you to send said child off to daycare because the likelihood they pass the zombie virus to another child is high.

And then the next realization hits… Someone has to stay home. F-bomb.

Unconscious Gender Bias at Home

When Fever and The Germs confront our household with this less-than-appealing predicament, there’s a 51% chance that the person missing work and staying home is me: I’m also including days where I need to leave work early to pick TRex up for various appointments, etc. in this percentage as well.

On any normal day, or at least what anyone would construe as a normal day, I wouldn’t have minded. Move some meetings around; plan on staying up late; it’s fine. However, work has been particularly busy/stressful lately, and these schedule changes are happening, or at least seem to be happening, more frequently. Little shifts add up: a few hours here, a few hours there, it all equals to me feeling as if I’m taking an inordinate amount of time away from my work. Especially when compared to my friends who also happen to be fathers…

Selfishly [stupidly?] I vocalized my displeasure to Mothersaurus. Not smart.

In putting into practice my First Amendment, I made her feel as if she wasn’t doing enough as a mother [not the case]. Logistically, I just happen to have the more flexible job, so me arranging for time away makes more sense: not to mention she has to save her days for her upcoming maternity leave [her place of employment is what any modern person would consider backwards]. After apologizing for being an asshole, I came to the conclusion that perhaps this frustration I’m feeling is the small price we pay for social progress – at least in our own household.

So naturally this whole scenario got me thinking: as a partnership/household that doesn’t divide chores/duties along gender lines [although I do always end up having to lift things], why did I naturally assume none of my other dad-friends never have to call out from work sick. I didn’t think parent-friends, I thought dad-friends. Hmm… Like title of the post says – unconscious gender inequality.

I Just Want Everyone to be Equally Miserable

I’ve been reflecting on this whole ordeal over the past week and I’ve come to the following conclusion: On one hand, I genuinely enjoy seeing TRex when the sun is still out so I can show him how to play tee-ball, or go for a quick walk down the hill [he doesn’t walk back up the hill – argh]. On the other hand, I want to get ahead in my career, and I don’t find it particularly fair that another ‘dad’ in the workforce [workforce as defined by the current Department of Labor] never has to take time off because his partner does everything child related. Is there a dad glass-ceiling? Is this ceiling a perception? Or is it reality? Who knows… I think I just want everyone to be equally miserable.

Single Mother on Welfare, Tell Me How You Did it

Two big takeaways from this past month of ill repute:

  1. I have a newfound respect for any parent [traditionally moms] who get ahead in their career AND do everything at home.Fathersaurus Note: Just to be super clear here – I’m not saying I do everything on my own and in no way mean/want to insinuate that idea.
  2. My daughter arrives in a few months and it’s important to me (us) that she and TRex are raised in a gender neutral household; the world is tough enough without them having to feel forced into behaving a certain way. If TRex wants to like pink and purple [he does] then he can proudly like pink and purple; if unnamed baby-girl wants to I don’t know… do something that’s traditionally masculine then she can do whatever that thing is. However, in order to make these lessons more impactful, I’ll need to accept the fact that no matter what we do in our abode, the outside world still has its biases and I can’t let that affect my thinking. Easier said than done, but not impossible.

– tam

13 Replies to “Unconscious Gender Biases at Home”

  1. Interesting perspective. I work from home now but when I worked outside the home I was the one who took time off whenever our daughter was sick (I’m the mom). It happened so often my work was struggling and it was a contributor to my decision to work from home. We made the decision because I made less money and had more flexibility. But gender was probably part of it too.

  2. Great article. I love seeing a male perspective/ponderance on this type of issue. I have a lot of female and gender queer feminist friends who write about these issues but don’t get to see a lot of male perspectives, even though gender inequality does affect men as well! Because you seem like an intelligent guy who appreciates thoughtful discourse I’ll just end with this considering: You wondered about a male equivalent to the “glass ceiling.” I think I get what you mean, but really, there isn’t one. In terms of the history of oppression, men don’t have one, at least not due to being male. There are a lot of privileges that being born with a penis come with, and one of them is that your career labor will be inherently valued, by society as a whole, over women’s. Which means also over your wife’s! Next time you have to stay home while she works, perhaps consider it a form of support. Your household sounds wonderful; the outside world can be less than wonderful for women, especially women pursuing careers. This way of valuing your wife’s job is a wonderful show of support that she can hold in her heart when battling all that sexism out there!

  3. So true! My hubby usually gets stuck staying home with our son when he’s sick but only because he has like a bagillion sick days and I have 4, yes four, LOL. But I like that you think pink and blue toys are for everyone. I just bought my son a tea pot and he loves it!

    1. Do you know if he ever ‘resents’ being the one to stay home? Also – only four sick days!? That’s insane. You must be a paragon of health.

  4. I agree it is nice to hear a dad’s point of view, and I love that you want to raise your children in a gender neutral household! My mom has always done all the yard work and my father has always done the laundry, and I never knew that wasn’t the norm until I was much older!

    1. I try to raise him gender free as much as I possibly can.

      Admittedly, it’s still something I struggle with – the other day my sister-in-law put a helmet on my son that was pink [not an issue] with flowers all over it [the issue]. I don’t know why, but flowers was the line I couldn’t cross. Go figure.

  5. I loved reading about this different perspective from the dad’s point of view. Sick days are rough on everyone, but I feel like more often than not one person suffers from the brunt of the work (or lack thereof).

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