TALK’n TROUBLE: Dads Make Great Allies


Ready for the ugly ties, silly T-shirts, and smarmy cards? Some of the stuff of Father’s Day hasn’t changed much but, fathers themselves have. Trouble believes that’s for the better. Some of us – perhaps older, and whiter – remember the old-school, Hallmark-standard image of a Father Knows Best-style dad in the media. We’re glad he’s not so widely depicted anymore. We don’t miss that detached, authoritarian-style, stereotypical ‘breadwinner.’ He seemed to be awkwardly unaccepting of love and affection from his kids. He was the picture of patriarchy. Fortunately, that old-school ‘king-of-the-castle’ is not what most of us think of when we think about the dads we know today.

TroubleMakers see dads as among our most important allies. We appreciate the enormous value of a father’s role in the development of his children, the health of his family, and the life of his community. There is no substitute for a present, engaged and caring dad. He models for his children how a man moves through the world. He is hugely important and influential on who his kids become. Studies consistently show, that “children with involved fathers have higher self-esteem, better cognitive and social skills, fewer behavioral problems, and higher academic achievement. This is true at every income level and regardless of how involved mothers are.”

Here at Trouble, we’re thankful that more and more fathers (and men in general) are understanding that gender equity isn’t “just a women’s issue.” Dads are seeing that constrictive gender roles and stereotypes negatively impact them; limiting their ability to express a full range of human emotions, to do any nontraditional job, and even to take care of their kids. They don’t want their boys to be similarly restricted. It’s also increasingly common that their daughters’ experiences inspire fathers to advocate anti-discrimination laws, equal pay policies, and sexual harassment enforcement. Dads of daughters are especially great allies! They tend to speak to other men on these, and a whole host of gender equity-related topics. That’s just part of why we honor and support fathers who recognize, and – on behalf of both their daughters and their sons – consciously foster equity in all areas of their lives.

“Once men realize that gender roles are a prison for them, too they become really valuable allies. Because they’re not just helping someone else, they are freeing themselves.” Gloria Steinem, Cofounder of Women’s Media Center

Gender equity as a human rights issue is very similar to racial equity. It’s not enough for anyone to say “I’m not that. I’m not a racist. I’m not sexist.” Just as whites need to be ANTI-racist and actively stand up for racial justice on a personal and a civic level, we need men to be ANTI-sexist; denounce toxic masculinity, and push back against demeaning language, gender-based prejudices, and unfair policies in their workplaces.

“I am a man in recovery, because I am constantly trying to unlearn behaviors and attitudes and feelings that were nurtured into me my entire life. Even as a black person, nothing was more damaging to my life than masculinity.” Don McPherson Football Hall of Famer and activist

The concept of fathering continues to evolve as men participate in family life more than the previous generation did. Young people today are generally more open-minded when it comes to gender roles. Most don’t see childcare as solely a woman’s responsibility or, as emasculating in any way. But, most men still don’t clean and do laundry. Traditional views persist about who does what at home, and it’s holding women back. For women to have the space to flourish, we need dads who lean in at home. Not just occasionally emptying the dishwasher but, taking on some of the emotional labor of keeping everyone comfortable and happy; like remembering birthdays, noticing when the TP runs out, handling difficult conversations, and managing after-school schedules. In other words, being full-fledged, full-time, grown-ass parents!

Calling all dads. Make no mistake about it; men will be greatly impacted if women lose the right to safe and legal abortion anywhere in the United States. An MSNBC report says, “The ability to plan how many children a man wants and when he wants to have them is because of the long, hard-fought movement women-led for reproductive rights.” If Roe v. Wade is overturned, other cases based on the right to privacy will be threatened as well. One of those; Griswold v. Connecticut, established the right to contraception. Men most certainly have a stake in maintaining that right. Since many men seem to enjoy having sex with women, most probably do not want to live in a world where no one can access birth control.

“…the opposite of patriarchy is not matriarchy—it’s democracy.” – Jane Fonda, Cofounder of Women’s Media Center

Every one of us – Women and men, fathers and mothers, daughters and sons live a fuller life in a less gender-biased world. Trouble celebrates fathers who are part of the solution, not part of the problem of gender inequity. We appreciate their alliance with our quest. After all, balance and justice benefit everyone. Full participation by autonomous women is good for real-life men and boys, too.

Stay tuned for more insights and inspiration.

Share the cool stuff you learn here with the TroubleMakers you know and love.


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