Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

08 March 2008

Happy International Women's Day!

And to celebrate, I shall blog about boys & men.

This is a phenomenal time to be a feminist, it really is. So much of what we have fought for in the last 150 years is finally blooming. No matter which candidate you stand behind, you have to stop and smile at how feminism has made it happen. The Council on Contemporary Families released a briefing paper a few days ago with an update on how men are faring in relation to their daily chores. While we are not at parity, they are doing a larger share than ever before (althou, I might suspect that when families were on farms, things were pretty 50/50). Thank you feminism. Hidden in the chore pieces is this tidbit:

The most dramatic increase in men's contributions has been to child care. Between 1965 and 2003, men tripled the amount of time they spent in child care (Bianchi, Robinson and Milkie 2005; Fisher et al 2006). Fathers in two-parent households now spend more time with co-resident children than at any time since large-scale longitudinally comparable data were collected (Coltrane 2004; Pleck and Masciadrelli 2003). In this period, women also increased their time spent in childcare and interaction with children, doubling it over the period from 1965 to 2003. This mutual increase in child care appears to be related to higher standards for both mothers and fathers about spending time with children.

So there ya go...stop feeling guilty about the time you spend with your kids because on average us moms and them dads are spending more time with the kids then before (again, that farm family probably spent way too much time together!). Thank you feminism.

Sometimes it is really hard to show people how feminism is not just about women. Yes, its basic premise is to bring parity. equity, equality, whatever word you want to use between the sexes. But what it really is doing and why the ultra-conservatives are in a tizzy is that feminism is breaking down gender roles. Yes, boys can still be boys and girls can still be girly. But those boxes are no longer sealed shut. I think we all know a girl out there who jumps in mud puddles with her pretty dress on, of course with stylish rain boots on her feet. I know moms who are very protective of their sensitive sons. Oh, they rumble with the best of them, but still have a very public and soft heart. I worry about them too. Will feminism help unseal boys' gender role boxes before they get called sissies or even worse, learn to suppress that gentle part of their soul?

A lot has been written on how Hillary Clinton is running like a man. Being tough on national defense and not showing much emotion. That is how the second wave of feminists/women of the 60s grew up. That was their personal defense mechanism. Compare that to Barack Obama who is the epitome of what us gals have been wanting in a man. Strong yet sensitive. We know he can kick some ass if needed, but can still curl up with us to watch a chick flick and not roll his eyes. Marie Wilson notes this:

I hope Obama's rise is accompanied by a new movement on the part of male leaders to ameliorate their leadership -- and that we can learn, as a nation, to truly accept women leading alongside them.

If Barack is our candidate for the White House and gosh darn it, he better win, I do hope that one of the things he ushers in is a new model for masculinity. Here's hoping that we won't see photo ops of him hunting, chopping down trees, at a Monster Truck show, or anything else stereotypically manly if its not something that he already likes to do. Here's hoping that the partnership that is his marriage brings this nation further along in household egalitarianism that the Clinton marriage started 15 years before them (of course without any intern situations).

No matter who wins, Barack or Hillary, if they win the White House, we all win. Feminism wins.

Technorati tags: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, feminism, gemder roles, Marie Wilson, masculinity, Council on Contemporary Families


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