I am very angry at the moment.
I bet you think you know what I’m going to say here – I mean, as the devoted reader of my blog that I’m sure you are, it’s no secret that I’m a staunch feminist. I’m basically a pro-life feminazi(*).
But that’s not what I’m going to talk about today.
My husband got yelled at for being an inadequate parent. What did he do? Oh he’s a stepdad. That’s it. That’s literally the reason he’s an inadequate parent. Never mind that the biological father, the “real” father, of the child in question is an asshole (which is, incidentally, why I don’t even talk to him anymore after the divorce). Never mind that it was my husband who potty-trained this child, who tried to teach her ABC’s before kindergarten, who drives her to school when she oversleeps and misses her bus, who taught her how to do laundry and dishes, who taught her how to cook mac n’ cheese for herself, who keeps a secret stash of pop tarts in the house for her(**), who plays the Wii-U with her, who taught her how to work through frustration and bad sportsmanship …. No. None of that matters. Because he’s a step-dad. He’s not a “real” parent.
And we all know how men just aren’t any good with children that aren’t, you know, theirs, right? It’s just a universal biological fact, totally hard-wired in, and we just can’t expect men to do what doesn’t come naturally, right? Except when they actually do things that blow this awful stereotype out of the water, and then we don’t believe what we’re seeing. Can’t be possible. I don’t need to look at the evidence because the evidence doesn’t matter anyway. It’s just a known fact.
In other news, it’s “just a known fact” that the world is flat and that the sun revolves around the earth. But here’s the difference – the earth isn’t offended because of faulty assumptions about it. It just keeps on being (roughly) spherical, rotating and orbiting around the sun and generally being its bad self. It’s one of the perks of being, oh I dunno, a planet that doesn’t have to actually interact with people to do its job.
But when you make assumptions about my husband, you hurt his ability to be an effective parent. You question everything he does and you tell him he’s wrong just because he’s a stepdad, you don’t just hurt him. You also hurt me, because I need him to be effective in his role in order for me to be effective in my role as a provider and breadwinner. You also hurt my children, because they see that it’s okay to treat their dad like that, and because you tell them that he’s not “really” their dad, despite the fact that he’s a better dad than the person you would consider the “real” dad.
No one questions my ability to be a parent. Because I’m female. Because I’m their mother. As if there’s some something magical in my ovaries that grants me the ability to be a parent. Here’s a clue: you know why I’m a good mother? Because I have actively worked at doing things a good mother does every day for the past 12 years. Practice makes perfect – THAT is what makes me a good mother. And I get lots of practice. But here’s the thing – my husband has had a lot of practice being a dad. It has been his full-time job for over 6 years now. He knows what he’s doing and I trust him.
How dare you assume that you’re going to have a different conversation with her mother? How dare you assume that he and I didn’t decide things together as her parents and caretakers? What kind of an idiot rants and raves about the supposed limits of men’s capabilities and then verbally skewers the embodiment of the person who is better than apparently every man they have known?
I have a radical idea – how about we interact with people as individuals instead of judging them on what’s between their legs? Never ranted about that before or anything.
(*) I have always thought the term “feminazi” has a lovely ring to it, ever since I heard it on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show as a kid, and I will probably never retire it.
(**) I’m not supposed to know about this, so SHHHHHH!!! Don’t tell my husband.