As an aside, I have a secret fantasy of gathering a team of men to go to every male-dominated discussion (on specific issues in the law or a certain genre of film or investigative journalism or whatever) and when it’s Q& A time, earnestly ask the male panelists how they balance work and family.
As a not-aside, the harder question is what to do here. I think there are a few solutions, at least for the heteros among us:
First, don’t marry or move in or reproduce with men unless they pull their own weight. Seriously. That might mean you end up alone. That might be a better option.
Second, don’t just let things fall into “natural” patterns. I’ve heard parents give other parents the advice of, “Parenting is hard enough, don’t try to force yourself into particular roles! Just let things work themselves out.” No. Don’t do that. Because letting things work themselves out = mom does most of the work.
Third, dudes, get it together.
Fourth, remember that even our perceptions of how much work we’re doing aren’t always accurate — we see a 70/30 split as being “equal” since it’s more than we’re used to seeing men do. In self-reported studies, men routinely over-estimate the amount of time they spend with their kids and doing housework.
Fifth, if the kid’s father is watching him, that’s not “baby-sitting.” If you wouldn’t go out for a night and leave your baby home alone with your husband, perhaps you’ve married the wrong person. If you wouldn’t go on a business trip for a week and leave your baby home alone with your husband, perhaps you’ve married the wrong person.
Sixth, dudes, get it together. Guilt and shame each other for being shitty dads. Cast judgment on men who don’t help out around the house.
Seventh, men are not useless, nor are they idiots or chimps. They are just as capable of being nurturing and loving and caring and aware as women are, so let’s also give them the chance to demonstrate that. And just don’t accept the ones who pretend to be chimps in order to abdicate responsibility.
Eighth, I don’t really know what else, except all of these discussions are part of the reason why I am extremely hesitant to reproduce.
This list is actually really really convicting. I might actually do a series on it. Having been raised in a patriarchal family, and just in general being a woman and mother in today’s society, I have to say that truly egalitarian parenting is really really hard. And I’m trying, but I’m really not there yet.
And here’s one more: