This issue has always troubled me but has recently come to a head in various forms and compelled me to speak up. I consider myself something of a feminist and certainly an advocate for equality in all its forms. However, when does the obsessive race for equality begin to hinder your cause?
For example, I was recently watching a women's hockey team play in the Olympics when a befuddled announcer stumbled over his words while discussing a penalty play. The penalty was for, as is known in hockey, "too many men on the ice." I felt genuinely sorry for this man who, in trying to simply report the play by play of the game, felt compelled to stop and awkwardly explain himself for several minutes about how this is, in fact, the acceptable term, he did not know how else to say it and he apologized on behalf of himself and the other announcers for not knowing how to address this issue. Now, this poor man was tied up in knots over an innocent comment and the only current term for what he is attempting to describe. To call it anything else would be, technically, inaccurate according to the current rules of the game. Being a woman, and one that happens to love hockey, the only thing about this incident that I found offensive was how much time was wasted discussing this while other plays were being missed.
A similar situation occurred on the flipside of this issue in recent months. Some people may recall an infamous picture posted on "Daddy Doin' Work" by Doyin Richards of a father caring for his children. The picture went viral and was followed up by a piece in "The Good Men Project" written by Mr. Richards where he speaks about how he hopes images like this will become commonplace. I am inclined to agree. Parents are supposed to parent. Don't get me wrong, the pictures were adorable but, he is right, why are we all fussing over a father who does what mothers do every day? If men and women/fathers and mothers want to be equal, why are the expectations (and the rewards) so different?
These issues of sexism are surprisingly cunning and they slip into our daily lives in ways we don't expect. They blindsides us and we never saw them coming! Just then, we are face to face with our own issues about equality. Issues we may not have even known we had. Obvious prejudices are easy to diagnose. The more subtle ones can be tricky.
When, for example, we start putting people on pedestals for what we would hope they would want to do for their families and start walking on eggshells over semantics in everyday language, are we really equal? I hope we can reach a point where these things become non-issues. Ideally, we will all be equal partners and no one will think twice about a dad as a primary caregiver the way that no one cares anymore about issues that used to baffle us even fifty years ago. I see how far we have come, as a society, even in the last few decades and I know we will continue to make progress. It is important to raise awareness about these issues on a deeper level if we hope to continue to make strides in the fight for equality and break down those barriers if we want to move to the next stage and start to really change the world.