Memo to mom-bloggers and editors at parenting sites everywhere:You want fathers blogging. You need to encourage fathers to blog ... about parenting, about work/life balance, about everything you write about. So let's open the gates ...
There was a fuss recently at the parenting site Babble over a series of lists. The first, Top 50 Twitter Moms, inspired some left-out-feeling dad tweeters to start a tongue-in-cheek #occupybabble hashtag. Then Babble came out with a list of the Top 50 Dad Bloggers, and that caused its own fuss, which led to CecilyK at MomCrunch at Babble to write this:
I also find it fairly ironic (and somewhat irritating) that dad bloggers are insisting that they be awarded the same attention, accolades and respect that mom bloggers get -- which, hilariously, is actually very little. You'll forgive my cynicism; I was just reminded that women will make two million dollars LESS in their lifetimes than their male colleagues, so I'm having a lot of trouble with dads feeling left out of much of anything.
A few days later, she did the honorable thing and went an interviewed prominent dad blogger Jason Avant, who put her straight gently:
So much of what we see as men and dads is contradictory. Mothers want to be recognized that mothering is very challenging in this time in history, and so do dads. So when this very committed sector of men wants to be recognized -- the face of fatherhood today -- we're writing about it and sharing about it, and we are trying to address some of the biggest complaints about men and fatherhood generally.
Which led CeciliyK to graciously apologize. Nicely done all around. But for all their candor, Avant and CecilyK danced around the underlying power struggle here, the massive shift we are seeing as the patriarchy crumbles and both moms and dads try to build sustainable families in a post-industrial age.
Mom bloggers need to realize something. Dad bloggers are your allies. These are the guys you should be nurturing, supporting, like sweet little fuzzy chicks tottering around the farm yard. Like Avant says, these are the guys who are creating the new paradigms of fatherhood, the ones in which dads will not dump much of the child care and housework on women.
Yes, men still run the world. Yes, there is a wage gap. But it is more complicated than that (see this story from Atlantic Cities for more). Many, if not most, guys are in some sort of trouble, with either their traditional jobs slipping away or their traditional family role disappearing. You may lack sympathy for this -- the dominant gender finally falling -- but it is confusing and hard for well-meaning, individual men. See Hanna Rosin's End of Men article in the Atlantic. See the slew of new troubled guy sitcoms on TV. See Joan C. Williams in her book or writings on why men and class matter.
As annoying as this may be, women need men for feminism to truly succeed. It is something that Lisa Belkin wrote about just last year, and something people like Gloria Steinhem have been saying for ages:
We know that we can do what men can do, but we still don't know that men can do what women can do. That's absolutely crucial. We can't go on doing two jobs.
And as mom bloggers, you are likely in a good spot. You have real leverage. See this post from Parentlode today -- mom bloggers are more politically aware, socially involved, better educated, than the average woman with children and wealthier than average too.
Believe me, dad-blog-level parenting is not the easy road for a dude. It's much easier to turn into a cubicle slave, play golf all weekend or hide nightly in a man cave.
Here in Sweden, where I live, they included men in the first comprehensive parental leave law way back in 1974. It's been a long slog, but now fathers take almost a quarter of all parental leave days here, with some people projecting that men will reach near 50 percent by the 2020s. And that's for infants and toddlers. It's slow. It's not perfect. But it is progress, and it is happening because men are being welcomed -- or shoved -- into the parenting world.
Of course, in the U.S., since Americans apparently don't do community or safety nets anymore, this kind of change happens more organically and painstakingly, one family at a time. But it is happening, and the ever-so-mild rise of the dad bloggers is one sign of this.
This is why it is so galling for many dad bloggers to see corporate campaigns built on paternal incompetence, to see shows built around the father as boob, and to be marginalized in parenting magazines and websites.
In a post on the site Man of the House in August, Avant waxed poetic about the impact of mom-bloggers:
The fact of the matter is this: women dominate the online creative writing space. They've defined and re-defined blogging in ways that men (especially dads) haven't. I'd argue that one cannot be a successful blogger--in whatever way one chooses to measure that success--without reading and understanding women like Heather Armstrong, Ree Drummond and the myriad of strong Internet writers who happen to be female.
That is special. Mom blogger communities are a digital marvel, a true sign of how the internet can foster connection, not alienation. But maybe now it's time to open the doors. This is not about stealing mom-blog ad revenue or pushing men to become more feminine or parent like moms. It is about reimagining the masculine in a world of innovation, equal relationships and shared parenting. That requires collaboration, and that would be good for everyone.
Follow Nathan Hegedus on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@NathanHegedus