Removing men from families

It’s not surprising that people still believe that having children and raising children is something women do all by themselves when men are consistently removed from stories about their own children.

Page 3 of today’s Sydney Morning Herald (prime real estate with an enormous photo): Chromosome screening gives new life to IVF success:

WHEN Selena Klasnja fell pregnant, she did not feel the hope and excitement experienced by most women. Instead, she held her breath, waiting to see if the pregnancy would last.

Mrs Klasnja, 41, spent 13 years trying for a baby, suffering repeated miscarriages which could not be explained.

Selena Klasnja goes by the honorific Mrs, so it’s a pretty safe bet that she is married. That through the pain of miscarriages and the 13 long years of trying for a baby, Mr Klasnja was hurting and waiting too.

Further down in the story she says: ”When I realised we were having twins I was so astonished.”

Yep. We. In a story about his children and about how he and his partner tried for a baby for 13 years, Mr Klasnja has been removed.

Of course, I am making a massive assumption about him here. We don’t know if they are still together and maybe he didn’t want to be a part of the story. But we see this over and over again. Stories about children always feature women. Stories about the cost of childcare always and only feature women responding to questions about whether it’s worth going back to work after they deduct the cost of childcare from their income. As though the cost of childcare is something that women must pay, rather than something that families must pay. Of course, I am only talking about heterosexual couples here, because they feature in the majority of stories about raising children. Stories about same-sex couples tend to feature both parents. It’s just one of those subconscious decisions journalists make: doing a story on childcare, better call a mother.

I’ve blogged about this before in relation to asylum seekers and news quality and an unquestioning media. And it matters because while the mainstream media plays a huge role in shaping attitudes, I don’t believe they actually think too deeply about what they do. No care and no responsibility, right?

24 responses to “Removing men from families

  1. It’s funny isn’t it. I got into a bit of a facebook debate a while ago about why women are underrepresented in high paying jobs (e.g. company boards etc). It all came down to, “last time I checked, men can’t breastfeed”.

    Ugh.

    • Ugh is right. That debate sounds so familiar – but my one must have been on a Stuff article.
      What made me giggle a little reading your comment is the conclusion that “Men get paid more because of something the can’t do. I always thought that things you couldn’t do meant you were paid less.

    • Oh, this shits me so much. Many mothers take only six months off when they have a baby – how on earth does a measly six months harm your career?

      • One of our suppliers had a baby on Thursday, was back answering emails and calls on Monday. Ok so it’s her own business and she could take the baby with her but that just sounds nuts!

      • My step sister and step mother who both work in child care assured me that lots of women only take six weeks off work. It’s all they feel they can afford. (Both financially and career wise)

        It’s crazy. We are more valuable as mothers….but only if we stay at home to do our mothering. Once we become mothers, we are devalued as women….

    • Men can breastfeed, they just need a little more encouragement to get the milk flowing than women who have just given birth usually do.

  2. This shits me too. I’m pregnant, a decision made together with my partner, who wishes to coparent (ie as equal roles as possible). Almost all baby products are marketed and designed for women, as is majority of pregnancy and birth books and info brochures. It’s as if babies only have one [female] parent. This also assumes pregnancy and birth is a lonesome task for mother, rather than one in which the partner/father can [and should] be very involved.

    • I’m not familiar with parenting books, but I have seen a few and they seem to be in two categories: books on raising children, and books for men. Why should the two be different?

  3. Yes , the msm does play a huge role in shaping ideas ,unfortunatly I think they know exactly what they are doing . Not the individual journos who sometimes appear so thick you wonder how they got a paying job writing but the media company that hires them to get the message across, if you hire a dolt it will write like a dolt .
    Why exclude men and emphasise women in a story on child care , the people who run the big game believe it is easier to have males at work and females looking after children where the expense is carried by the worker and by continually portraying this as the only ‘norm’ can form a guilt feeling if you vary from this .
    When full, equal and interchangeable parental leave is finally achieved the story might change.

    • That’s a good point. If women “choose” to raise kids instead of having a career and raising kids with their partner, then the companies get out of paying parental leave and can have (male) employees working longer hours because there’s someone at home looking after the kids full time, rather than respecting that everyone has a right to a life outside of work.

  4. A very good point if men and women are constantly being told men have no role in child raising other than provider then traditional roles will always remain.

    If men are totally excluded from childcare then we will believe that its “womens work” . As will some women.
    Any man who wants to be involved in child care is considered abnormal.
    Not a real man, probable gay or a child molester

    Apparently some fathers have been chased out of child changing facilities by women because they should not be there.

  5. A male friend of mine asked on FB a while back why there isn’t a ‘Fathering’ magazine. He is completely right. When it comes to parenting, men are taken out of the picture… It goes as far that when men are implied in parenting, they get scrutinized. If men want to share a family bed, they are perverts, if they want to stay at home with the kids, they are slackers… anyway, if men want to be present in their children’s lives, there must be something wrong with them.
    Yet on the other hand, women in general keep complaining about male absence in the home… Very contradictory once again.
    I often think that men suffer more from gendering, because their gender is much more closely defined

    • I don’t know if they suffer more from gendering, since they earn more, dollar for dollar, than women do, and aren’t passed over for promotion simply because of what’s in their pants. But I do think that no one wins when we have these stupid outdated gender roles.

      • You are defining good/bad results in gendering in financial terms and higher levels in a corporation.
        Many people work badly paid crap jobs that have little chances of promotion. Gender roles have many non financial aspects.

        • Yes, gender roles do have many non-financial aspects, but the balance is still tipped heavily in favour of men. Parenting is the only arena in which gendering places women as having more value than men. And I think that was Nips broader point. Outside the home/mothering, women are not valued as highly as men. (regardless of classism or work sectors. Women still receive the short end of the stick more often than men do in these categories too. )

  6. It is absolutely true that women get shafted by gender roles and get paid less than men especially married men. Single men get less pay than married men doing the same job. In part due to men as providers gender role

    I dispute that it is only one aspect of life that gendering favours women.
    Nursing, teaching small children, typing, data entry…. fuck it really is a small group.
    Most dangerous jobs are done by men and, I agree, the few women who do them are discriminated against. Women have not been expected to join the military in times of war. Anywhere there is an expectation of violence/danger policing, military, firefighting etc mens responses are defined by gender roles. As are women’s ( standing loyally by his side.) Not a great role.

    I am not insane enough to claim men are worse off but merely that gender roles have shafted men also.

    • No one is disputing that men suffer from genderisation. That’s one of the concerns we all share when it comes to enforcing gender roles. What the patriarchy are incapable of seeing and what feminists have been arguing for years is that we do men and women a great disservice when we subject each other to gender roles.
      The very nature of this post is highlighting our growing awareness and frustration that particularly when it comes to families men are seemingly disposable in most capacities outside of financial provider and that the MSM are quite good at reinforcing this attitude whether it be because of lazy reporting or as tredlgt proposes on purpose is just a part of this discussion as NWN tends to address imbalance, injustices, inconsistency and the general state of reporting in main stream media.

      • Exactly. All around me I see families where both parents are raising the children together, yet whenever there’s a story in the MSM about families, it’s always the mother who is interviewed.

        • A valid point I cannot remember any story about child raising that isn’t mother based except divorce/death of loving wife and mother variants.

      • Fully agree. Genderisation is double-edged. When society says “This is the typical role for men, and isn’t suitable for women” it insults everyone.

        It insults women because it reinforces the message that they can’t do it. It insults men because it places them in a pidgeon-hole where they are expected to be a certain way. And it insults the recipient of the service provided by the role because it is likely to deny them service by someone who might just be the best person for it. A bit rambly because I am very tired.
        Gender stereotyping is archaic. It perhaps was consistent with the societal mores (but never right) at one point in history. But not now – and not for a very long time.
        Gender stereotyping tells me that as a cis-gendered male, I am supposed to be a certain way. Problem is, my core nature is more in line with female gender stereotyping. Always has been. I’ve never really felt as though I belong in a group of males. And the weight of stereotyping bothered me for years. Until I realised “Fuck you all, I wanna be me”.
        It takes a great deal of strength to rise above all these things that MSM tells us how we should be. And it shouldn’t.
        Genderisation really does do everybody great harm. Because it denies possibility. It denies experience. And it stifles growth.

        And when it comes to language, MSM have a big responsibility they seem to seldom live up to. When they “speak” they speak to the minds of thousands (in some cases millions) of people. Their words are often treated as being reflective of society. And for fucks sake – language is their job. I expect greater care to be taken in the words used.

        Oh dear, I am sorry – I really am getting to the gibberish stage. I am going to get some sleep.

        • I love this: “And for fucks sake – language is their job. I expect greater care to be taken in the words used.”

          That’s what makes me so mad. Such a flippant attitude to the output of their job.

  7. I love the mainstream idea that men looking after their own children is called “babysitting”. I hear it time and time again (I usually ask them if they get paid $5 an hour like the 13 year old next door would). Funnily, they find that insulting….

    I am also reading a psychology paper about the effects of early childcare, in which they class all non maternal care as childcare, even care by a father or a grandparent. The study has found that parenting (by which they mean mothering) has a much more pronounced and profound effect than any childcare, either good or bad. They also found that all “relative” care (care by relatives), also has a much more profound effect than childcare. Basically, care by relatives has more of an impact (good or bad, depending on the quality) than does any childcare (good or bad).

    What this tells me is that non maternal carers (fathers especially), have a big impact, so it’s interesting that they are so irrelevant to the media. Good point.

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