in praise of feminist fathers

I had this great idea to write a post about feminist fathers for Father's Day, but I got hung up on the definition of what a feminist father really is. To me, a feminist dad is not just a guy who teaches his daughter how to play baseball, or encourages her to work hard in school. He's not just the guy who changes diapers and bathes his kids. It's not just about what he does at home.

To me, being a feminist dad is also about the way he behaves in the workplace. A feminist dad is one who goes home at the end of the day and leaves his job behind, at least until after the kids are in bed. He's a dad who knows that it's important for him to say no to the boss about working late, and not just let the working moms in his office set the standard of how parents should behave.

I blogged recently about my own father, and how he took care of us during the summers when I was a kid. I don't know if my dad would really describe himself as a feminist–I would. Not only because he went out of his way to make sure that I believed that I could do whatever I wanted to, but also because he made sure that when my mom was ready to go back into the workforce, that she could do it.

What's your definition of a feminist dad? Are you married to one? Are you one? 

I know I am! Happy Father's Day to all my favorite dads out there in the blogosphere. I hope that you had a great day, with plenty of handprint arts, and gifts made out of popsicle sticks. And Happy Father's Day to landisdad, who is the most wonderful dad I know, and a feminist dad at that.

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June 18, 2006. thoughtful parenting.

11 Comments

  1. chichimama replied:

    What a great post. And no, I am married to a very non-feminist dad. I love him dearly, but he is a Republican throwback in many ways. Work will always come first, probably because he knows I will never let the kids or house fall throw the cracks because I am responsible like that. Also the reason I could never go back to my old career, we couldn’t have two work-driven travelling like crazy parents and keep a semblance of a home life.

  2. MetroDad replied:

    Hmmm, interesting concept, LM. I think my definition of a feminist dad is one who respects all women, mothers, wives, and daughters…and sets an example for his children to admire, respect and emulate. I think a feminist dad is also one who detests phrases such as “that’s mommy’s job” or “wait until your father gets home.” And lastly, I think a feminist dad is one who doesn’t let labels detract him from being the best father he possibly can.

    Thanks for the Father’s Day wishes. All the best to LandisDad as well!

  3. chip replied:

    uh oh, I don’t even teach my son how to play baseball…

    Anyway, I think that how dads relate to their sons is just as important a determinant of whether they are feminists as how they relate to their daughters. I think most importantly we have to teach our sons how to remain human beings in a society that tries to dehumanize men by making them act “like a man”.

    So, guilty as charged, according to your definition (as I’ve blogged)… And thanks for the props, lm, it means a lot to me.

  4. Jennifer replied:

    Elizabeth at Half-Changed World once wrote that a feminist marriage is one in which the mom is not always responsible for arranging child-care. By that definition, I am not in a feminist marriage … so I like your definition better : ) My husband rocks, even if I’m always the one calling for a sitter.

    Happy Father’s Day to Landisdad (one day late)!

    And it’s nice to hear from you again!

  5. Jim replied:

    I’m a feminist dad as far as I treat my daughter’s aspirations no differently than I would treat my son’s dreams, with not a whisper of “but you can’t do that – you’re a GIRL!”.

    Thanks for the Dad’s day wishes… 🙂

  6. CroutonBoy replied:

    I’ve always been confused by what feminism means in general. The way I was raised you treat everyone as equals with dignity and respect, prioritize your family above all else, and acknowledge that we’re all in this crazy life together and the only way to get by is to help each other. I’m not sure if that sheds light on anything, but if that somehow fits the mold then we can call it whatever we want.

    Thanks for the Father’s Day wishes…my best to LandisDad, too!

  7. Kate the Shrew replied:

    I agree with CroutonBoy’s definition…

    Happily, I am married to a feminist dad, who likes his women smart and “uppity”, so I don’t think we’ll have any problems raising Queen B to be one.

  8. Phil replied:

    I’ll second some of the other comments… I tell my daughter the same exact thing that I tell my son: “You can do anything in this world. Be anything you want, do anything you want. Just be happy.”

    30 years ago there were a lot of fathers who had one speech for their sons and one speech for their daughters. My father-in-law encouraged his boys to go to college, while encouraging his daughter to “maybe just get married or go to beauty school.” Thank goodness she didn’t listen to him. Yeah, she got married, but first she went to college and chose an education and a career that was interesting to her.

  9. Andy replied:

    What a great post and some really good definitions of a feminist father. I like to think my husband is a feminist daddy for many reasons. First being that we’ve switched traditional roles and I’m working while he’s being the stay-at-home-dad he always wanted to be. He wanted to quit his job the second I found out I was pregnant but we agreed on part time and then he’s transitioned into being a full time SAHD. I’m still hoping it’s temporary, but we’ll see. Of course there’s more reasons than that, but we’ll just leave it at that for now.

  10. elise replied:

    Although on the outside it appears that my husband and I share a more traditional marriage where I stay home and take care of the kids and he works I would say he is a feminist dad. I hesitate to say that since he doesn’t TRY to be a feminist dad. He just is who he is. A man who puts family first, loves his wife and sees her as an equal and just does it naturally. He doesn’t try to be these things, he just is.

    A few years back when he was at an office party for a guy who was getting married all the guys were joking about how now things wouldn’t be the same and how rough it was to be married and my husband piped up that he LOVED being married and things were absolutely great! I will always remember that and think that is what makes my husband a great man! Its great that he feels that way and its even greater that he didn’t just keep quiet but he said something about it!

  11. Philip replied:

    A feminist dad is a tautology. A true male feminist would not perpetuate male oppression of women by inflicting the oppressive force of child birth on the woman he loved.

    If he did, though, he might make damn sure he takes the predominant role in raising and nurturing them to make up for his mistake

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