Who needs feminism?

Gwynne
Gwynne Dyer
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The Oxford English dictionary defines feminism as the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.

Based on that definition, the current viral rant about cats and girls not needing feminism and the subsequent backlash to counter that position has left out an important perspective.

 All the single dads I know who see their kids once a week (or not at all) — and had to fight the courts to get that small concession — need feminism. All the single dads who went to Fort McMurray (as an example) with a girlfriend or wife — and created a child but mom wasn’t happy, took the baby and came home — need feminism.

Why?

You see, dad couldn’t quit the job in Fort Mac because he and his child need the money, and the EI system has funny rules around quitting a job when you are not the primary caregiver.

So, mom and baby leave when baby was three months old. In less than a year, if dad doesn’t spend significant time with that baby, it won’t know him from Adam.

Who is going to fight that fight for him? It won’t be the privileged group that doesn’t need feminism. It won’t be the self-righteous group that believe only women can be the best parents and it won’t be the “man’s man” who thinks childrearing is “women’s work.”

It’s going to be a person with a feminist ideology because that ideology believes men and women are equal.

They believe men are as capable of intimate and nurturing relationships with their children as are women.

They believe that women are as capable of running a global empire, or a country, as men.

A feminist is not necessarily a woman. A feminist is a person who believes none of us are prisoners of traditional roles, none of us are limited by what we are told to believe, and that in a just society we must fight for each other’s rights regardless of gender, sexual orientation and a myriad of other diversities.

How do I know about the young man who wanted to parent, regardless of the sacrifice?

I served on the board of referees for Service Canada for 12 years. I wrote the dissenting opinion (based on their own legislation) when that young man quit his job to come home and thereby ensure he was able to develop a relationship with his child.

It’s a long story and this is not the place.

He wanted to parent and, from all the evidence, he did everything one would expect and more. To credit the nameless but fair-minded people at Service Canada, they agreed and in the end, supported that young man in his struggle.

And no, it wasn’t wrong. If it was a woman who had quit a job to follow her partner we would grant her support because — guess what — the act says it “is not designed to separate families.” Or at least it used to 10 years ago.

The conventional thinking was that he should have kept that job and sent the money home.

To heck with his ability to bond to his child, that’s the mother’s job, right? No, not right, not just and not good for the children.

Some of you will make the case that I am encouraging everybody to stay home and parent and nobody work.

I am not and it fans the flames to say so.

However, as a society we have as much responsibility to support single fathers as we do single mothers — when they need it. It is good for the children.

And that, my dear cats, is why we still need feminism. And, yes, I’m one of them!

Donna Thistle

Steady Brook

Organizations: Service Canada

Geographic location: Fort McMurray, Fort Mac

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