Why doesn’t Brittany want our sympathy as fathers?

Why doesn’t Brittany want our sympathy as fathers?

If you are struggling with appreciating this point of view, you are not alone.

It is tempting and ‘well intended’ for men to react to what is being discussed by Brittany Higgins and Grace Tame, with genuine sympathy. Sympathy that may come from our experience of having daughters, sisters, partners, friends, mothers, grandmothers, or granddaughters.

However, the urge to want to protect the women in our lives may actually be contributing to the problem much more than we think.

Firstly by presuming that the women in our lives require protection and placing ourselves as protectors, we unconsciously place women in an inferior role to ourselves and reinforce the patriarchal system in which men hold authority and power (over women).

This is benevolent sexism. 

Benevolent sexism is seen in ‘chivalrous’ or ‘fatherly’ behaviours.

Yes, help your fellow humans. But if you are only opening doors for women and not others, or if you instruct your daughters to behave a certain way which you don’t also expect from your sons, then there may be some benevolent sexism that you are not yet aware of. 

Benevolent sexism also makes us more susceptible to hostile sexism. And we probably are more familiar with those examples.

But hostile sexism often arises from benevolent sexism.

When a woman acts out of place, refuses to conform, or doesn’t respect our patriarchal authority, hostile sexism rears its ugly head.

It’s how a lot of domestic and sexual violence is initiated.

See the problem?

It should not be about ensuring the women in our lives have built a house of bricks to protect themselves against the big bad wolves that are out there. 

By doing so, essentially what we are saying to the wolves is “harass someone else”, “abuse someone else”, “rape someone else”. ‘Go visit the house of sticks or straw’.

Instead, we need to turn our attention to our sons, brothers, partners, friends, fathers, grandfathers and grandsons.

We need to ensure that the ‘wolves’ are not allowed to freely roam the corridors of our schools, our workplaces, our streets, our parliament.

We need to educate each other, be uncomfortable with each other, and confront each other.

When a wolf emerges, women will feel safe only when they know that an army of fellow humans will be there to help them, and not side with the wolf.

The wolves are there in plain sight. Some dressed as sheep.

Start with confronting the wolf in the mirror. Because he is there.

When you find him, send me a message and I can help with what to do next.

Working Parents and societal change

Working Parents and societal change

This week has been a week of transitions in my household, as it probably has been for many working parents.

Our eldest son started back at school, and our younger son is back at daycare.

PLUS, coincidently, my wife has returned to her practice this week, after taking parental leave.

For me, it’s involved juggling around my schedule and availability to assume the primary carer’s role for our youngest – 9-month-old, Lizzie.

Looking after a baby by yourself is tough, and the third time around doesn’t make it much easier.

Even tougher is trying to run a business between naps, pickups, and playtime. I didn’t have this added pressure with the other two, as I took leave from my employers instead (self-funded through annual leave and leave without pay).

📣 So here’s a shout-out to all the people that are doing this currently – and somehow making it work.

📣 And a special shout out to the dads doing this.

Third time around for me, it is definitely encouraging to see the progress that had been made – just in the last 5 years – to normalise dads being the primary carer, and to normalise dads juggling work and caring responsibilities throughout the week.

This time around, I haven’t encountered the “change table is located in the women’s bathroom” issue (although, I think this is still the case in some public toilets).

This time around, the unhelpful comments are much less frequent. No one has commented about me “playing mum” or “minding the baby” or how great it is that I’m giving my wife a break. But there are still some comments – the most recent was from a lady that praised my “Mother’s rock” when observing me settling my daughter.

This time around there are also a couple more dads at the park (still not that many though). But the biggest change is that the mothers seem less cliquey, more willing to talk to me, and more willing to include me as an equal in their parenting conversations.

It is progress in the right direction – which makes this transition much easier this time around, despite the added pressure.

The last couple of times I’ve done this, I said a massive thanks to my employer and my team for supporting me through this time. This time I am my employer, and I don’t have much of a team.

So instead I want to thank Australian society for the progress that has been made. Progress which is supporting me through this time. 🙏