Friday, 20 July 2018

Sexism...towards dads?!

I've heard of mansplaining before; it's the concept of a man explaining something to someone, typically a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronising. 

(Do you see what I did there?) 

But what happens when women are condescending - or even downright sexist - towards men? And in particular, towards us dads?! 

I read an article recently which focused on this exact issue. The story was all about a gay male couple who have a young daughter, and who have experienced 'sexist' behaviour - on a daily basis - from women they felt were condescending towards them. 

You can read their full story here

The everyday sexism, they say, was far more demoralising and commonplace to them than any anti-gay sentiment they've experienced, which surprised me a lot. 

And it made me ask myself a few questions:

Have I experienced anything like that myself? 

Is it different for gay dads, than it is for straight ones? 

Might these dads be over-reacting? Maybe the women were genuinely just trying to help?

Does it all come down to the tone, or context?

First of all, I have definitely encountered situations where I've been given advice by women I didn't know.

For example, when I met my friend Luca for a drink at Covent Garden at the weekend. Marley had wanted to sit in his buggy to my side, rather than right up at the table with us. As Luca and I chatted, I noticed a woman at a nearby table waving to get my attention. When I looked over, she pointed and gestured to me that Marley's buggy was now right in the direct sunlight, which I hadn't realised. 

I quickly pulled the buggy's cover over to protect Marley's head from the sun, smiled an appreciative 'thank you' to the woman, and we carried on our conversation. 

Now I would say this was a bit of helpful, friendly advice. I had been keeping a close eye on Marley (I promise!) so it was a little embarrassing that I hadn't noticed the problem. But I didn't feel like this woman was trying to do anything other than look out for a little boy whose dad hadn't realised had the sun in his eyes. 

I would also say that, on the whole, any strangers (men or women) who have ever spoken to me in public about Marley have more-or-less always been positive and supportive, and I can't actually think of a single example of patronising or condescending behaviour I've experienced. 

There were are a couple of examples used in the article of women asking things like: "Have you thought about changing her nappy?" or "Do you think she's hungry?" which I feel, given the context (a screaming baby), are not too unreasonable questions to ask. 

Yes, they might make a new dad feel a little useless, incapable, impotent, even unqualified for the job....but that's how it feels to be a new dad anyway!

Whether it comes from a maternal instinct, or just a genuine human desire to help, I feel these kind of questions usually emerge from a good place.

However, suggestions like "perhaps I should hold the baby for you?" are pushing it (if the shoe was on the other foot, I don't think a new mum would appreciate that one).

And the story of the waitress telling the couple: "Two men cannot look after a baby, next time bring a woman" is less 'condescending' and more plain ignorant.

I like to think there aren't too many people going around saying things to any dads just to belittle them, or make them feel inept. It's a tough enough job as it is. 

Tuesday, 3 July 2018


Marley's 2nd birthday has now come and gone, and as part of us recognising that milestone we received a set of questions from the doctor to see how he is developing and whether he's able to perform certain tasks. 

"Can he lick his own elbow?" sadly wasn't on the list. But here are some questions that did make the cut:

Q: Can he walk up two steps without holding your hand? 
(A: Yes)

Q: Can he string pasta on to wool? 

(A: I have no idea why would he need to do that, but Yes)

Q: Can he say two or three words that describe more than one thing, e.g. mummy coming home? 

(A: Yes; he likes to point things out like "look Mummy, car there!")

The word "there" basically gets pinned on to everything now, the boy is hilarious. 

We started to write a list of some of the words and phrases he uses, just to see how many there are. I think we lost count around 100; he definitely likes to talk...

And sometimes he surprises us with something we didn't even know he could say, like when we were on a busy bus, and saying "mummy" several times didn't get a response, so he opted to shout "WAKE UP MUMMY!"

But we have realised lately that when he says some things, we might understand completely but other people have absolutely no idea what he is talking about. We are obviously well tuned-in to the Marlish language....

So since I'm considering posting up some more video of our exploits, I thought it might be helpful to share a few excerpts from the Marlish Dictionary to help you understand him:

Ah doe likkeeeeeee = I don’t like it

Bye-da = Spider

Di-do-door = Dinosaur

Ed-a-dupter = Helicopter

Morthair = Martin

Orrer = Orange

Whatta doeee = What are you doing? 

What dat doyzzz = What's that noise?