Over the last two months, I've written more than 20,000 words (!) about male primary caregivers in popular culture. I hope I've illustrated that while the rise in non-stereotypical portrayals of men is in some ways a step forward, it's also often just another means by which the mainstream media reinforces gender norms — often at women's expense.
When I started this series, I thought the increase in narratives about single and stay-at-home fathers reflected a genuine sociological phenomenon, because more men than women lost jobs in the recession and became stay-at-home dads as a result. However, I soon discovered that while the number of men who take care of their kids full-time has doubled over the last 12 years, it's still just 176,000 people, or 0.8% of the population, according to Philip N. Cohen's interrogation of the stats. (This rises when dads who work part-time are included, but only to 2.8%.) Plus, men are returning to work more quickly than women, making this much-discussed "trend" little more than a blip. What's more, as Bryce Calvert pointed out in her Forbes column, it was only ever a partial victory considering that being a stay-at-home parent wasn't a choice for many of these men, just as it isn't a choice for many women.
Myself and many women like me, who've grown up privileged, educated, single, childless, career-oriented, and feminist, have also figured that we'd get around to having kids eventually. Unlike generations of women who came before us, we have the option of delaying the babymaking process until we've taken care of other business we might want to accomplish, like advancing our careers and finding people with whom to have and possibly raise said babies. Many men are considering those factors too, putting off fatherhood as a result. It is a good thing that we have those options. But what happens when a whole bunch of people decide to have kids later in life? According to the latest issue of the New Republic, delaying parenthood might have further-reaching consequences than we realize.
I'm devoting this entire week to gender-nonconforming kids and the parents who raise them. Later I'll follow up with parent and Bilerico blogger Paige Schilt, who will share her perspective on parenting during the genderpocalypse.
But first, here's last year in parenting, an overview:
A recent article in TIME magazine reveals a study that says kids are not getting outside enough. It is the girls who are neglected the most—they're 16% less likely than boys to be taken outdoors. Really?
In this post and my next one, I'm taking a look at a selection of four parents' guides on autism and Asperger syndrome, to see how sex, sexuality, and gender are addressed. This is not a book review, but an overview of how these topics are presented in literature intended for parents of adolescents. Do these texts contribute to the erasure of autistic sexuality? What do the books have to say about gender?
You might be thinking about the price of diapers, health insurance, or preschool programs when trying to work out a rough answer. But don't forget the $230 silver ballet shoes that your five year old will grow out of in a few months, or the $56 baby blanket, or the $500 bassinet.
My goal in writing this series was to delve into the intersections of feminism, parenting and pop culture, and I did my best to tackle as many topics as possible in my eight weeks here. (Although of course, I'm still left staring at a laundry list of things I wanted to write about...isn't that always the case?)
The problem is that while a lot of music (I'm thinking mostly of pop and hip hop here) that's geared towards teens and adults also appeals to kids, it's not actually appropriate for them. So what's a mama (or papa) to do when they want to rock out, but not expose their kids to music and musicians they're just not old enough for? Thankfully, besides the classics, there has been a lot of kickass kids music coming out lately. Perhaps a lot of musicians have become parents themselves and realized the lack of quality kids' music? Regardless of the reason, there are now many options to choose from beyond "The Wheels on the Bus."
We're (not so) slowly creating a new social contract where oversharing has become de rigueur. Blame it on the popularity of reality TV or the easy access the Internet provides—either way, we're currently at a place where a video of a mom intentionally terrifying her young son while he belts out Britney Spears has over 10 million hits on YouTube.