by Natasha Chiam
I have made an observation of my life these past few months as I creep closer and closer to the "official" beginning of middle age. It seems my level of righteous indignation at the injustices of this world is increasing at a rate proportional to the amount that I am sweating at night. Which is to say — a whole damn lot.
One particular injustice or societal trend I keep seeing over and over is something I call the fetishization of men who assume roles of caregiver/feminist/allies (I don't know if there is a phrase for this phenomenon, so I kind of made one up). Or, alternatively: #givingmenallthecookies.
This is why women can't have nice things in this world. And by nice things, I obviously mean economic, political, and societal equality.
You know what I am talking about. You see the one man wearing a baby in a baby carrier at the playground or the mall, something women do all the damn time (while also doing many other things I would add), and he gets fawned over like he might actually be the ONLY man on the planet at that very moment.
Or how about the man who got invited to the White House to talk about parental leave because he was denied leave from his employer when his child was born? A few years ago, I sat in a giant conference room full of American mothers, all of whom had ZERO leave when they had children, as they unironically applauded this man like he was some kind of parental-leave messiah. As one of the few Canadian women in the room (I actually had a full 52 weeks of parental leave — TWICE!!), I was very confused by this.
Why is it that thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of women can fight for something for decades, but the minute it affects a man, and he has something to say about it, it becomes front page news and is White House invitation-worthy? Why are the feels of this one new father so much more important than those of the countless mothers who have come before him and have been fighting, seemingly unseen and unheard, for maternity leave in the USA?
The most recent example of #givingmenallthecookies that had me all hot and bothered was at a recent blogging and social media awards presentation. The list of nominees was impressive. New faces and established bloggers alike, and included many women changing the world through their words, businesses, and online presence. These awards are an opportunity to acknowledge the hard work of many in making these spaces for themselves and others, and at THIS conference, which is primarily targeted at women in the parent blogging community, we celebrate our own. Or so I thought.
For the second year in a row, at least 1/3 of the awards went to men. Men who make up less than 10 percent of the attendees at this particular conference (and likely less than 10 percent of parent bloggers). The winners of these awards, much like those at big awards shows like the Oscars, are chosen by votes from members of the New Media Council (i.e., past and present Mom 2.0 and Dad 2.0 conference attendees) — members of the "Academy." There were four to five women in each category and one man. With known "strategic" voting by eligible male voters, this inevitably stacks the cards in the one male nominee's favor, and makes a win for one of the female nominees near impossible. Or maybe everyone is voting for the lone male?
Perhaps, for many women, seeing these "Daddy-bloggers" doing their thing, and putting a fatherly spin on writing/podcasting/Instagramming their lives, is a refreshing change from the norm of all us regular "Mommy-blogger" types.
It's like seeing those pictures of Paul McCartney with Baby Stella all snuggled up in his T-shirt. We see a man "doing it right" and assume that he should get a prize for doing what is basically the bare minimum of the job he signed on for, or being a shining example of what we think all men should be doing.
I don't know about you, but in this TIME and THIS world, in a space that was created by women for women, to celebrate and acknowledge their achievements, my default will always be to choose and honor a woman. And I won't apologize for that, no matter how many folks may say I am being a "reverse" sexist by not giving men equal footing in this space. NOPE. Sorry dudes. You've gotten more than your share of all the damn cookies for far too long.
I mean sure, I'll drool all over pictures of Cam Gigandet wearing his daughter in a sling — I am pre-menopausal, NOT DEAD! But he still isn't getting my vote for best babywearing EVAH!
I have come to the realization in my old-ish age, and as a feminist, that we have to make smarter choices in order to see the changes we want for ourselves and our fellow sisters. The way I see it, in a world where all things are created equal (which by the way doesn't exist and likely won't in my lifetime), 99.9 percent of the time I will choose the best woman for the award, job, promotion, and ALL THE DAMN COOKIES!
Now someone pass me a hand-held fan, it's getting hot in here!
Natasha Chiam is a writer and serial school field trip tribute/volunteer. She lives in Canada, live tweets the details of her impending foray into menopause and has finally figured out that there is a freedom that comes with age and the giving of no more f***s!