Male, with child

April 10, 2012 — 4 Comments

Mike pointed out Mothership HackerMoms, a women’s hackerspace in Oakland. I think that is a great idea!

I learned about it just as Emma went down for a nap, and my tea is steeping, so I figured I would use this time to express something that has been on my mind for the last few months. It is about being male, and a so-called stay-at-home parent (so-called, because I’ve worked at home for years, and because I am often not here when I am hanging out with my kid).

It is a touchy subject for me, because I understand the history of gender roles and privilege, and I don’t want to take a stance that isn’t informed by context. I don’t want to sound like an asshole who is entitled to whatever e wants.

Having a child changes how you interact with people around you, because you are accountable for em as well. Also, the younger the child, the more logistical support is needed to accomplish anything. For us, we basically need to create a mobile station of supplies, to account for changing weather conditions, sanitation, entertainment and any special needs for that week. That is way different from checking for my wallet and phone, and looking outside to see if I need a coat. Visiting Susan for lunch, which we do every weekday, is akin to a sortie. We don’t begrudge it, but it is our reality.

This is important for institutions (such as the technology and engineering industries) to understand when pondering how to include more women. As it is generally noted, traditionally childcare falls to women (I hate using that word, “falls”, since childcare is so important to our existence, it should be treated as an honor). When you go to a convention, hackerspace, study group, or really, anything that interests you, the journey is more involved than going to the office or market, since there is a mental preparation. Now add the effort of caring for a child on top of that. It is no surprise women with children would feel prohibited from such events!

There are a lot of other reasons women are marginalized, as well as methods to break them down and create a better, equal society. Since you are reading my blog, I suggest you check out the Geek Feminism Wiki for more info on that, you deserve those resources!

So, traditionally, childcare is handled by women. That is probably changing, due to economics, but it certainly isn’t changing fast enough for us to call it in and say that childcare is equally distributed. Hence, the need for things like mother’s groups, which I see posted all the time on BPN, or Mothership.

It leaves me out.

It isn’t a complaint, rather, I want to point out what the promised land looks like. It is where I can go to an event or a space, and not worry about being prohibited because I have a child, nor invading a safe-space for folks who have no alternative. I don’t need a group that caters to men with children, I need more people with privilege to understand what that means.

We have a ways to go. Unless one is exposed to the complications and struggles marginalized folks deal with, they won’t understand how much society is stacked against them. I am trying to post more about unpacking my invisible knapsack. I want to explore it, and not just because I want to be a person who is more inclusive and understanding, but also so I can give Emma an opportunity to live an enriched life by being exposed to all the wonderful ideas and creativity people have to share, and not just the ones that white men think are important.

In the meantime, I will keep looking for something interesting that is for parents, or at least child-friendly. Emma is still mostly interested in large motions that involve putting hands/things in eir/my mouth. Is there a hackerspace made out of applesauce?

4 responses to Male, with child

  1. How about contacting HackerMoms and see if they understand? If anything, they would hopefully be supportive of “stay at home” dads for your contribution to societal change – and might have some ideas. Maybe they’d offer some days/time that their home would be open to people such as yourself? Or at least put the word out that you’d like to form a group of dads seeking something similar?

    • I’ll definitely reach out to them, if I feel like going. They haven’t set up their membership yet.

      But that highlights another point, I have to reach out to them and ask to be an exception. I have the personality that lends itself to that (part of my privilege?), and it is also an isolated case, since most women’s groups make space that are abundant, and by default, for men. I am sure there is more social pressure to not disrupt the default arrangement if it is as widespread as say, tech conventions.

      That is part of why I love the feminist movement, it is inherently courageous! ^_^

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

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