This Father’s Day, It’s Time for Dads to Start Acting More Like Moms
“Men should spend more time caring for their kids and their homes.”
This may sound like it’s coming from a women’s organization, but it’s actually the message of a new group of male feminists. The men behind the MenCare campaign are arguing that gender equality is better not just for women but for men too, and they’re using a recent research report called “The State of the World’s Fathers” to make the case for redefining masculinity.
The “State of the World’s Fathers” report, released in 2015, was the first document to argue that dads should be involved in a child’s caregiving, sexual and reproductive health, maternal, newborn and child health. The goal was to “challenge the structures and ideologies that restrict us all from developing as full human beings in a more just and equal society.”
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard this. Male-led feminist movements have gotten a lot of attention in recent years. You might remember when U.N. Women launched the #HeForShe campaign several years ago and Emma Watson made an impassioned plea for everyone to engage in the cause, saying, “We want to try to galvanize as many men and boys as possible to be advocates for change.” And other leaders agree that changing the mind-sets of men will play a really important role in gender equality. Iceland Minister of Foreign Affairs Gudlaugur Thor Thordarsson, a member of the MenCare campaign, said “Some ideas of manhood are outright dangerous. The generations before us could not be seen pushing a stroller—it wasn’t ‘manly’ enough. These social norms, the ideas about what it means to be a man, affect boys and men throughout their lifetimes.”
But while these statements and male-led movements have made a lot of publicity, they haven’t yet sparked real change. Globally, the report found, women still do three times more daily care work than men. Inequality is worse in South Asia and the Middle East, but even in Europe and North America the situation is far from equal. Attitudes have changed, sure—most Americans now disagree with the outdated notion that it’s best for men to work and women take care of the children and the home—but there are still problems, for sure. The U.S. still doesn’t have mandated parental leave for either parent. And American women still do more housework.
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