Here is a short test of your sexism:
If you want your son to always have a job, encourage him to train as a home health aide. His greater physical strength is a tremendous advantage.
Personal Note: I have five younger brothers. My mother had five younger brothers. Her three youngest brothers were closer to my age than hers, and were my big brothers. I have two grandson, five and 17 months. I attended Fordham University as a sophomore the year they admitted women as freshmen and was often the only women in my classes. My male bosses has been more supportive than my female bosses. I struggle with misogyny.
Misandry, hatred and disdain for men in general, is probably the most underused word in progressive political debate. Although a lifelong feminist, I have always loathed knee-jerk male-bashing and defended men against stereotyping. Wikipedia has a decent definition of sexism: "Sexism is commonly considered to be discrimination and/or hatred of people based on their sex rather than their individual merits." Both men and women can be sexists; both men and women can be the victim of sexism.
The glorification of the macho man is sexist. The idea that little boys can't cry or wear pink or play with dolls is sexist. The denial that fathers are just as loving, nurturing parents as women is sexist. Questioning the masculinity of a man who stays home and cares for his children is sexist. Expectations that daughters are better qualified to care for aging parents are sexist. .
Four days a week I helped take care of now 5-year-old grandson until he was 2. I recaptured many memories of my youngest brothers, 11 and 13 years younger, as little boys. I remember their tenderness, sensitivity, gentleness. Yet even when we were all keeping watch at my mother's deathbed at home for a week, only one of my brothers cried openly. His four brothers in another room assumed it was me.
Sexism underpins our whole glorification of war and violence. It cannot possibly be defeated in one generation. All of human history is not changed quite so quickly. Hanging out with Michael in NYC playgrounds and streets, I am conscious that preschool boys possibly suffer more from sexism than little girls. When a girl shows interest in traditionally masculine activities, it is often seen as upward mobility. When a boy shows interest in girlie things, people start wondering if he is gay. Older men in the elevator started fretting over Michael's curls when he was 15 months old.
All of us are crippled by such sexist attitudes. Preschools and elementary schools are a better match for most girls. Boys too often wind up on medication so they can conform to classroom rules and expectations. The idea that boys can't be babysitters or men can't be daycare, kindergarten, and grade school teachers is disgustingly sexist. Home health agencies seem to find it unimaginable that a client might want a guy to care for their aging mother. The idea that every man is a potential rapist or sexual predator is hideously sexist.
Women cannot have it both ways.If they want fathers to share equally in parenting, they have to let fathers find their own way to parent. I observed a group of stay-at-home fathers with their toddlers at the Children's Library at 42nd street. They were fantastic with their all-over-the-place toddlers, showing great humor, love, and appreciation and a total absence of up-tightness..
Anne Marie Slaughter's article on Why Women Can't Have It All in the Atlantic is a prime example. According to her, men just don't care as much as women do when their jobs deprive them of time with their children. But her husband stayed in Princeton during the week and fathered her sons while she was working for Hillary Clinton in DC. Anne-Marie just showed up on weekends.
Men are still locked into the primary breadwinner role, making more money than their wives, rarely having the opportunity of part-time work or flexible work. I suspect men are in even greater danger of losing their jobs or never being promoted if they put family first.
I have been appalled by the male bashing that has characterized too many comments on Slaughter's article. The energy and passion expended on attacking other women's choices or blaming fathers need to be directed at American corporate capitalism. The possibility of flexible work schedules so dads can take care of their children is rarely discussed. In the rare instance where fathers are given paternity leave, they fear to take it because they dread the daddy track.
Since I began blogging in 2003, I recognized that we need a nonviolent revolution to create a family-friendly Amerca. It needs to be even more sweeping than the civil rights movement. I am appalled that the Slaughters of this world get so much attention for discovering something that I started discussing with my future husband when we began dating in 1966. My brothers, sons-in-law, and nephews have the same difficulty combining work and family as my father did, as my children's father did.
Fathers and mothers need to work together so have families have some of what they need.