Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Pernicious little assumptions

Week 16 - 166 days left

I can't remember where I read it, but it was some kind of thing for new fathers.  It was probably one chapter of a much larger book written for women.  More on that some other time.  Anyway...

Roughly what it said:  once a baby is born, a man is capable of doing everything for it except actual breast-feeding.  The idea was that getting up in the night, dealing with nappies, feeding and getting the baby to sleep is just as much the father's role as it is the mother's.

Thankfully, the place where I read it was well-written enough not to perpetuate the ideologies which usually come with this sort of advice.  Examples from the NHS Pregnancy Book:
Now is the time to start sharing the housework, if you don't already do so. (p.49)
Beware of that comma in the middle, it marks the edge of a gaping chasm between the two halves of the sentence.  Imagine the difference in meaning without it.

Also from the same page:
carrying heavy shopping can put a lot of strain on her back, so try to do the shopping yourself or together.  (p.49)
These pernicious little assumptions get everywhere, and, Speaking as a Father, do not represent the reality for myself and many of my peers, with or without children.  My worry is that they do represent reality for many households.  My fear is that to have these issues acknowledged in order to address them during pregnancy will result in a return to previous inequalities once the mother is "not pregnant any more, so what's the problem?"

Tangential extra reading along the lines of gender inequality and outdated assumptions:  Lisa Jervis' excellent article, If Women Ruled the World, Nothing Would Be Different  Share and Enjoy.

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