Why are we so scared of men?

discrimination against dads

So, I’m going to let you into a bit of a secret: I like men.

I point this out because some people think you can’t be divorced and a feminist and like men. Some people are stupid, what can I say?

Anyway, I do like men. I date men. A lot of my most long-standing friends, and work chums are men. I’m even pretty good friends with my ex-husband.

But sometimes I think a lot of us really don’t like men very much. That our default position about men (especially those we don’t know well) is that they’re probably Bad News. And God forbid you should be a man who enjoys spending time with children – because that’s just not natural, is it?

I grew up with three big brothers – and my eldest brother is one of the very best people I know.

He’s the sort of guy who gives up his weekend to re-build walls at the local church or help out with a fundraising event for Nepal. He’s a school governor. He knows how to build shelves and garden planters. He can start your car (usually) when it won’t work. He knows everything there is to know about Star Wars and Judge Dredd.

He’s a loyal, devoted husband and an amazing Dad to his two kids – he’s always ferrying them to cubs and guides, and swimming and football. He paints their rooms and builds them desks and helps with homework. He’s the sort of Dad who will happily spend a weekend on a bike ride, or kayaking, passing on his love of the outdoors to them. He doesn’t like overdrafts, or being late. Obviously, we are pretty much polar opposites in almost every way, but he’s the best sort of big brother I could hope for.

Anyway, once or twice a year, he gets together with a couple of his Dad friends, and they take the kids camping – sometimes in Wales, sometimes the Lake District – but always somewhere great, with a river for the kids to paddle in, and woods to play games. They will run around like savages all day, climbing hills and making swings over the water, then settle around the fire at night, telling stories and playing games. “Dadcamp”, as it’s known in the family, is a highlight of the year for my niece and nephew. And it’s the sort of thing I love about my brother – he adores spending time with the kids, and is just the most amazing role model I can imagine.

So I couldn’t believe it when my brother told me that Dadcamp almost didn’t happen this year – because the campsite the group wanted to visit wouldn’t accept them.

The reason?

“We don’t accept solo men travelling with children.” 

Are you kidding me?

Apparently it wasn’t a one-off. My brother tells me that a number of campsites he approached this year wouldn’t accept men travelling with kids.

I’m assuming this is related to the fact that lots of campsites don’t accept large single-sex groups – stag parties not necessarily being the clientele they want to attract.  Or perhaps it’s another version of that, “we don’t let men into public parks unless they’re with a child” – assuming that every man without a wife is obviously a paedophile.

It seems crazy to me. On the one hand, we ask that men are more involved in child-rearing in society. We want shared parental leave and criticise ‘deadbeat dads’ who lose contact with their kids after a divorce or separation.

But culturally, it seems, we’re still wired to think there’s something wrong or dangerous about men with kids.

It strikes me that campsites need to radically re-think their policies – not just for single Dads and gay Dads and uncles who want to spend time with their kids, but for regular Dads like my brother who are perfectly entitled to spend time with their own children at exactly the same sites that are available to their wives and partners. It’s 2015 – how is this sort of discrimination still considered okay? 

 

About 

Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She's also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world's coolest ten year old.

25 Comments

  1. 3rd July 2015 / 12:17 pm

    I like men too. Even though I’m in love with a woman. I find them to be a bit on an unknown entity to me, having some decidedly whacky male relatives, but I’m hopeful that I can find some sane and stable men to be good role-models to my sons.

    It surprises me a LOT actually that nobody really talks about misandry. ‘Men, eh? Men can’t iron. Men can’t look after children. I came home and LOOK what he’d dressed them in! We took the children to the playground but didn’t stay long because there was a MAN there, just watching the children.’ Of course women can be doctors and scientists and engineers but can a man do childcare? Well it’s a bit – uncomfortable, isn’t it. You have to wonder why a MAN would want to be around children.

    It makes me nervous to raise boys in this world, where men are openly berated for being shitty second-rate care-givers and then prevented from actually getting involved after all. And god forbid that they feel any affection for a child that hasn’t originated from their own genetic material because that would be even more weird, wouldn’t it. We just – as a society, I strongly feel that we are perhaps doing little boys even more of a disservice than we’re doing little girls, and I feel rather sorry for the men that they grow into.

    And that’s my somewhat incoherent rant for today!
    Amber recently posted..Twins in SummerMy Profile

    • 4th July 2015 / 9:06 am

      Misandry is a big issue and it’s done on a rather different level, isn’t it?

  2. 3rd July 2015 / 3:12 pm

    When I saw you tweet about this I was truly saddened by how hyped up people are now, to think that any men spending time alone with children, must have ulterior motives.

    Despite absolutely loving women so much that I decided to marry one. I really do like men, Not in an I would consider doing anything friendlier than a hand shake, but in an I love spending time with them and am quite fond of my best friend who happens to be a man.

    My dad used to take me camping on his own and my best friend may one day wish to take my son along on a camping trip with his soon to be husband. It’s sad that men will be made to feel like they have to justify their actions anymore than a woman.

    Women are capable of hideous things, yet we don’t cast them as villains if they want to organise a solo trip with children.

    The greatest fear we can create is a world where we fear everything.
    My Two Mums recently posted..Summer Ideas for Kids in LondonMy Profile

    • 4th July 2015 / 9:06 am

      We really need to be far better about promoting positive images of men with kids.

  3. 3rd July 2015 / 7:01 pm

    That’s terrible! My parents divorced when I was very young and my dad has always been a huge part of my life. He has always taken me and my sister on holiday together on his own. He’s a loving father, what are they afraid of?

    Its a sad, sad world that we live in.
    Caroljs recently posted..The #PerfectPair with Hotter ShoesMy Profile

    • 4th July 2015 / 9:06 am

      It’s weird. I can’t work out if they think they’re dangerous or potentially rowdy and going to let the kids do something dangerous – either way it’s just prejudice.

  4. 3rd July 2015 / 7:43 pm

    What your brother experienced is saddening, but not surprising, to me. My husband loves to spend time with his daughter (gasp!). But people look at them like it’s something unnatural. When he was at the YMCA watching her at swim lessons, someone went to the desk to ask what he was doing there. Is it really so rare that a father takes an interest in his children? If so, that’s a sad state of affairs for society.
    Emma recently posted..Kid Construction – Beyond BlocksMy Profile

    • 4th July 2015 / 9:05 am

      God, that’s a horrible story! Horrible! We’re so conditioned to see predators it’s just awful.

  5. Lindy
    3rd July 2015 / 8:04 pm

    Happens in the playground too- I remember Simon hesitating once when a little girl was stuck on a climbing frame and the parents no where to be seen- he asked if I could help her. I looked at him funny but helped the little girl down. He then told me that as a man he really can’t help a child he doesn’t know for fear of being accused of doing something inappropriate. I found that so so sad.

    • 4th July 2015 / 9:04 am

      That’s just sad.

  6. 3rd July 2015 / 10:16 pm

    It’s so not the same thing, but it’s the nearest thing we’ve got to sharing our ponderings. I’m a working mum, my hubby is the SAHD. This year I have (unfortunately) probably not got passed 20 school runs, although I am the organised one who does sorts parties, playdates, etc.
    A couple of months ago, one of the mums asked the hubby to find out whether I could go on a ‘school mums’ night out. Hubby queried the request (because he’s obstinate) and got the response ‘well you can sort a dad’s night out’.
    It’s just odd, they know him far better than me, he doesn’t know the majority of dads (no doubt because they can also count school runs on one hand), and yet ‘we’ differentiate.
    I understand my hubby feels uncomfortable in a lot of situations (he never did ‘mamas and babas’ or toddler group) but it still feels like parents themselves differentiate based on gender.
    We should celebrate how far we moved on… but we should accept how far we have to go.
    Debbie recently posted..Word of the Week #WotWMy Profile

    • 4th July 2015 / 9:04 am

      I definitely think there’s still a gender split – there’s a “ladies lunch” club at Flea’s school not “parents”!

    • 4th July 2015 / 9:04 am

      Isn’t it just the most horrible assumption?

  7. 4th July 2015 / 9:22 am

    I am genuinely shocked by this. My dad and his dad friends used to take us camping once a year as children and it was amazing. Honestly some of the best holidays I ever went on. I never questioned that there weren’t any mums on the trip.

    I like men a lot and have always had male best friends. A lot of my female friends find it odd that I have male best friends and assume we must fancy each other. We don’t. I don’t fancy my female best friends either. I don’t think I could be best friends with someone I fancy. Sadly my best friend since I was 14 is no longer allowed to talk to me as his wife finds our friendship odd.

    I realise I have written an essay now when all I wanted to say was that I agree!
    HelpfulMum recently posted..Hot Wheels Super Speed Blastway ReviewMy Profile

  8. 4th July 2015 / 10:47 am

    It’s a ridiculous situation to find yourself in.

    When I (eventually, hopefully) become a parent, I’d love to be able to spend father-daughter/son time in the local park, y’know. Isn’t it part of parent-child bonding?

    What would happen, I wonder (God-forbid), when a father becomes a single parent due to circumstances beyond control – an accident, illness, whatever.
    Does this mean that the state should automatically orphan the child left behind – just in case?!
    Matt recently posted..Like a phoenix…My Profile

  9. Cherished By Me
    4th July 2015 / 11:10 am

    My jaw just hit the ground. Sitting here astonished that this happens!!?? How sad, but also utterly disgusting. I really am shocked.

  10. Anordinarydad
    4th July 2015 / 12:37 pm

    Thanks for talking about this. it happens all the time in a thousand little ways and truly feels disgusting when you know what other people are assuming about you. unfortunately, men can’t even really bring this topic up because of other privileges we have. But I do agree that if men are to become more involved as fathers, they really will only do that if they don’t risk being labelled and judged as horrible things at playgrounds, swim lessons, ballet classes, grocery stores, kid’s birthday parties, ect..

  11. 4th July 2015 / 1:15 pm

    Thank you! The struggle is real and it is refreshing to see that ladies notice this too! This type of discrimination will never deter a Dad like your brother, but imagine the timid guy not sure about himself and his role… The constant barrage of dads are inept buffoons could be devastating to his confidence and relationship with his family. It hurts women too, reinforcing the idea that women should be raising the children and nothing more, if not simply because men can’t do it, or can’t be trusted.

  12. 5th July 2015 / 12:17 pm

    I feel quite horrified by this. What a weird weird world we live in. I’d be interested to hear from a couple of the campsites who have this policy, to find out exactly why they do….
    Alison recently posted..Because I’m Happy #3My Profile

  13. 7th July 2015 / 1:41 pm

    Wow. This is shocking. That sounds like an amazing weekend and I really can’t see why any campsite wouldn’t want their custom. 🙁
    Claire recently posted..Milford Fish Festival #countrykidsMy Profile

  14. 24th September 2015 / 10:39 am

    Great Blog! It’s such a shame. I invited my closest friends to my hen doo and that included a few MALES!!!! Some people in the clubs were asking me why he was there -‘who brings guys out on a hen night?’ Soooo annoying!

    • 27th September 2015 / 8:58 pm

      So silly!

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