Heterosexism & Misandry from a Gay Dad’s Perspective

Here I am, waiting for my car to be repaired; I figured that a good use of my time would be to fire off a blog… so here it is!  Ohh, be warned though: it’s another rant-y one, so if you’re in the mood for an uplifting online experience, go google kittens or something.

If, however, you’re willing to humour me while I relate to you a couple little things that irk me, then please read on!

To start off with, let’s define a few terms, just so we’re all on the same page:

Heterosexism: Discrimination or prejudice against gays and lesbians based on the presumption that everyone in the world is heterosexual.  Example: asking a gay man what his wife does for a living.

Misandry: disdain or hatred for men.  Most of you have likely heard of misogyny; this is the male version.  Example: almost ANY baby book you can find… I’ll elaborate later.

Ever since becoming fathers, hubby and I have been literally bombarded with heterosexist comments and misandrist marketing, making it quite clear that – despite living in one of the most accepting nations on the planet when it comes to same-sex relationships – we still don’t quite fit in properly.   In case you are wondering what exactly I’m talking about, have a look at this short list of typical heterosexist comments that people make when meeting either him or me out in public with our kids:

Heterosexist Comments

1.  “Where’s is his mommy?” (bending over and squeezing son’s cheek)

2.  “Awwww – are you giving mommy a break?” (to me, in patronizing tone)

3.  “Dad’s turn to do some shopping, eh?” <nudge, nudge>

4.  “Out with daddy today for a change, are you?” (to my son)

5.  “Oh – you’ve got the day off from work?” (assuming that my ‘wife’ is – of course – raising the kids)

          or, when they find out that I’m  a stay-at-home-Dad:

6.  “Didn’t your wife take maternity leave?” (slightly worried, covertly checking over my son for obvious signs of neglect)

6.  “So what does your wife do?”

7.  “Oh – so your wife wears the pants in the family!” (chuckle, chuckle)

Gay dads have a couple of options when faced with this.  When I first began to get those comments, I just chuckled them off, as if I were amused by people’s playful prodding.  Later on though, it began to get a bit tedious, and I would – on occasion – gently explain that my son didn’t have a ‘mommy’, and that his other daddy was at home, or at work, or in another store.  Nowadays, I find comments like that downright infuriating, and my replies have begun to take on a more aggressive tone: I usual ‘educate’ the offending party on what heterosexism means, and how it makes me feel.  Sometimes, they take my lesson in good humour.  Sometimes they don’t.

It doesn’t stop there, though (woe is me!).  I’ve found that marketing for and around anything “baby” is insidiously and ubiquitously misandrist (disdainful of men’s role).  In a world where there were no gay dads, and all straight dads are big, burly and leave all the mothering to their women, nobody would bat an eyelash at this stuff.  However, gay dads are here to stay, and ALL DADS today have an obligation to be off their asses and co-parenting with their partners in equal proportions.  We no longer live in the 1950’s, boys. 

(If you’re a straight dad and you’re sitting on your ass, letting your woman raise the kids, get off your ass right now and start co-parenting in equal proportion to your partner)

Ahem.  Anywho – I was talking about insidious, misandrist marketing.  Here are some examples of misandry that you might have noticed, but not noticed:

Misandrist Marketing

1.  Parking spots for expectant and new mothers – yes, the ‘expectant’ part is for mothers alone, but there are new dads out there too who would really appreciate the odd conveniently-located parking spot on occasion!

2.  Virtually 100% of literature dealing with newborn babies.

      -the covers of these items either have babies on them, or babies AND doting mothers.  Find me a generic baby book that has a baby and her daddy on the cover, and I will give you… well, I probably won’t give you anything, but I will send that book’s publisher a personal letter of thanks and appreciation.

       -the inside of these books often treat “daddies” as inconvenient necessities for new mothers.  These ‘daddy’ creatures (we’re told) need to be given very specific make-work tasks, as well as provide for every comfort that a mother may need, while she coddles and cuddles and does all the important bonding stuff with the new baby.  I got about 30 pages into one of these books (back when hubby and I were first adopting son #1) when I hurled it into the trash can, so sick was I of the male-bashing that permeated the pages.  I was wholly revolted by the degree of lecturing to men about how to overcome our baser urges and animal instincts, such that I completely missed any valuable information that may have been in there.  Eventually, we came across a book that seemed to indicate that ‘daddy’ could contribute in a meaningful manner, and was even capable of holding a child while not forgetting that it was not a football.

3.  “Moms & Tots” – a category of activities that can be enjoyed by… babies and their mothers.  Only.  Think play groups, think baby swimming time, think little tyke skating hours – you name it.  There is a ‘Moms & Tot’s skating hour that we have been taking our eldest son to for a few years, which costs $1.  They leave a box outside the rink, cutely labelled “Kids – free; Mom’s – $1”.  Since my son is a kid and I’m not a mom, I have yet to pay even once.  And no, I don’t feel the slightest bit guilty.  Ironically, that particular kids skate is attended almost exclusively by dads and grandparents – I expect that the arena doesn’t depend on the income from this skate, else they would have been out of business ages ago.

4.  Slogans by companies peddling baby-related products – look up any website selling baby products and tell me what pics you see.  Yep, babies.  And?  Mommies.  You have to search pretty thoroughly to find a generic website picture with just a dad and his baby (sure, there’ll be the odd ‘daddy-can-help-too!’ section; however, I’m not helping to raise my kids, I AM raising them, so to hell with those areas).  Some of the slogans or tags  I’ve come across (without identifying the guilty parties) include:

  • we’re here for You, Mom!
  • Mommy Tools
  • All About Mom
  • Moms and their babies
  • Mommy answers
  • Calling all Mothers
  • You’re Doing Ok, Mom!
  • Maternal Instincts

ugh.

Ok, so about now, you straight readers are wondering: why is he making such a big deal about this stuff?  Well, the deal is that there is a more inclusive way of going about your daily business, whether as a pedestrian or a business owner.  Yes, 90% of males you’ll meet out there are at least nominally straight, so asking about their wives won’t be discriminatory.  However, asking about somebody’s spouse or partner includes EVERYBODY (uhm… well everybody that has a spouse or partner, I guess… sorry single parents!).  And yes, pictures of cutsie babies and MILF’s undeniably help to sell products.  Well, cosmetics companies learned about 35 years ago that marketing solely to white women was starting to hurt their bottom line.  Wisely, most of them (the ones that are still in business) diversified their products and started advertising to ALL women.  Perhaps it’s about time baby product companies featured some eye-catching DILF’s on – say – half their product labels; pictures of cute dads would still appeal to all the straight women out there, as well as all us gay dads!  Lesbians could buy the products with traditional labels, of course 😉

Anyways – some food for thought next time you see a Dad out with his kid. 🙂

Got some heterosexist / misandrist experiences to tell?  Leave them below and share the pain!