My Post-BlogFest15 Thoughts About Gender Stereotypes

OK, I don’t really know where I’m going to go with this post and I don’t often write in a ‘mind dump’ fashion. However, after attending the Mumsnet BlogFest blogging conference yesterday – with big thanks to online customised products retailer Zazzle who sponsored me to attend – there’s a lot of stuff going on in my head at the moment and it feels like I need to just stick it down on (virtual) paper.

This feeling was created by the first session of the day called ‘A Room Of One’s Own’: Motherhood and Creativity – here’s the spiel from the BlogFest programme on what was to be discussed:

“When Tracey Emin declared that she wouldn’t have been able to be an artist and a mother, creative women lined up to counter her claims. But had she tapped into something that many of us have – however secretly – been anxious about? Motherhood changes everything – there’s less time, less money, and less space. Does this mean less room for creativity, too?

Since much of the childcare burden is still shouldered by women – whether by choice or by default – is it easier for men to create? Does the very act of bearing children impact women’s creativity? This panel of women – some with children, some without – will discuss the balance between family life and their art, and ask whether motherhood is a curse or a catalyst when it comes to creativity.”

As a stay-at-home dad, I’ll admit that the session title and description didn’t put it at the top of my Blogfest to-do list, however I’m always interested to hear about other peoples’ experiences, particularly when it comes to people who are in the same boat as me, albeit another gender. Within a few minutes though, I was already feeling pretty pissed off. A few throwaway comments had been made by the all-female panel about blokes and dads, which felt all too similar to the ‘dad bashing’ which I experienced at BritMums Live earlier this year.

I’m all for people sharing what they’ve gone through and their thoughts on particular topics, but I hate generalisations and stereotypes. It’s just plain lazy and does nothing to help anyone – it only isolates and marginalises. At times, this session was very generalised, particularly when it came to dads. Little comments were made by the panel about how dads don’t help around the house without being asked or how a dad won’t change their baby’s nappy or how a bloke is only happy at the pub.

In isolation, these were just little throwaway remarks to get a laugh or to make a point. When viewed together though, it all became a little much for me and others. During the rest of the day, I had conversations with a few other mum bloggers who agreed that some of the comments had gone too far, made them feel uncomfortable and took away from the points being made by the panel.

In situations like this to test whether I’m being overly sensitive, I often try to reverse the roles. By doing this, I’m pretty sure that there would be a mini-uproar if five men took to the stage and said belittling things about women for a cheap laugh. Here’s one particular example of something which was said that annoyed me, which you can probably tell by my not so subtle reply:

The reason that it annoyed me was because it is based on absolutely nothing, yet it creates a divide between mums and dads. Unless I’m mistaken, I very much doubt that Meera has taken to the streets with a clipboard and a questionnaire to gain actual insight from passers by. Instead, she is just throwing a stupid comment out there which arguably creates feelings of spite, contempt and jealous between women and their penis-owning counterparts.

As a stay-at-home dad, what I’m starting to realise is that this mum versus dad divide is bloody ridiculous. Let alone then breaking down these groups into sub-groups like stay-at-home mum versus working mum or breast feeding mums versus bottle feeding mums. Seriously, who gives a shit. We are all feckin’ parents. We are all doing what we can to raise our little ones in the best way we can manage. It is a joint effort, not a matter of one group versus another.

And this is the problem with stereotypes and generalising. Yes, the stereotype may cover 60% of a defined population, but what about the other 40%? Those outliers that are tarred with the same brush just because they share the same gender, race, religion etc. Outliers like me, and probably outliers like you too. Do you fit the typical image of a man or woman? A mum or a dad?

As a stay-at-home dad to my 15-month old daughter, I do the same as what a stay-at-home mum does. I get her dressed, I change her nappy, I make her food, I take her out, we play together etc. I get annoyed if she cries for no reason, I feel guilty for secretly eating chocolate in the kitchen so that I don’t have to share and I can’t go to the toilet without someone’s little eyes peering at my nether regions.

Like you mums, I also sometimes feel like I’ve lost my identity since becoming a parent. Am I just Toddler L’s dad or is there more to me than this? Am I a let down to my parents, my wife and my friends because I traded in a £50k a year job for the odd £20 and an intimate understanding of buying houses at auctions thanks to Homes Under The Hammer? Who am I? What am I? What’s my purpose? Has a baby held me back? The exact same bloody questions that were being covered during this ‘Motherhood’ session.

The point I’m trying to make is that mums and dads are the same. We are all parents going through the same daily shit. Just because I lack a vagina, it doesn’t mean I should be viewed differently or treated in an inferior way, as I’ve already discussed in my dads don’t babysit post. This isn’t just a dad having a bitch about being a dad. This should be exactly the same for everyone. Bottle or breast. Working vs stay-at-home. Bla bla bla. We should support each other regardless of gender and the category we are placed into.

As such, I’d have loved to have seen a dad on the panel during this session and have seen the topic changed from ‘Motherhood’ to ‘Parenthood’. Why not be inclusive of all parents, rather than create the mum versus dad divide? I realise that you’ve got to play to the majority of the audience and the handful of men probably made up 1% of the attendees at Blogfest, but other sessions during the day had male speakers, so why didn’t this one?

Have I made a point during this post? I don’t know, you’ll have to be the judge of that. All I know is I needed to write a few thoughts down in the interests of discussion and debate, which after all, is what Blogfest is all about. It would be great to hear your thoughts on this gender stuff and your opinions of the ‘Motherhood and Creativity’ session if you did attend!

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  • I can totally see where you come from! I feel you can’t fight for equality by putting down the “other” gender. Being a stay at home parent needs to be more valued by both individuals and society.

    • Thanks and agreed 🙂 I’d just settle for everyone treating each other fairly and with respect regardless of gender, situation etc etc. Unfortunately though some people are just bastards and don’t 🙂

  • I saw your tweet about being a #blogfest for only a short time but already being offended.
    Fantastic post and I think you’ve made a good point. I hate the divide that people create, whether it is Mum vs Dad.. Bottle vs breast.. Disposable vs cloth. We’re all parent trying our best.. That’s what should count 🙂

    • Thanks Liane – yeah totally. This isn’t intended to be a ‘oh I’m a poor dad’, more a ‘we’re all in the same boat so let’s stop picking on each other because they do something different to us, be it choices or what’s in their pants.

  • So glad I didn’t go to BlogFest or this session, I am not a stay at home dad, and work full time but would say I do my share! I do the washing, I cook, I tidy, hoover as does the wife who also works full time!! Why stereo type and make every dad to be like a few who do go down the pub! Ggggrrrrr!

    • Exactly John – it’s not about anyone being better than any other (mum over dad, stay at home dad over working dad etc etc), its surely all about doing your fair share regardless of gender or situation. It may not sound like it, but BlogFest was actually really enjoyable – it was just this session that pissed me off and obviously this post focusses on the 5% bad rather than 95% good.

  • Jules

    Well said! I think this principle can be applied to most group divisions; when it comes down to it, we are all human.

    P.S. My guilty pleasure is Homes Under the Hammer too!

    • Yep totally, it’s the same principle and I thought that when writing the post. Haha, love a bit of Homes Under The Hammer, even more so now that

  • Mrsnige

    couldn’t agree more! Well said. All parents can be creative or non-creative, like going to the pub or not, like reading or not. As for Myra Syal – well, her situation is possibly slightly different as her husband is a writer/ actor too and I can see that she may be speaking from personal experience and this is missed in the quotation. My husband was normally likely to be found in the garden rather than in the pub when our children were small!

    • Thanks 🙂 I just wish more people would say parents and treat mums and dads the same, rather than dads being this stereotypical, useless figure who is only good for making mistakes and having fun. Yeah exactly, I don’t mean to have a go directly at Myra, but she said it on two occasions plus it was the only tweet I could find 🙂

      • Mrsnige

        That’s cool. Just make sure you enjoy every minute, the time goes so so quickly. Mine are 26 and 23 now and I miss that time so much when they were little and were around all the time. It is precious.

  • “As a stay-at-home dad, I’ll admit that the session title and description didn’t put it at the top of my Blogfest to-do list” – Yep I don’t think it would have been at the top of mine either . . .

    Might have just laughed outloud at your tweet – which I don’t think was quite the point but I promise the laugh came from a place of love 😉

    I think you have absolutely made a point with your mind dump. Reading your post I can tell it was brewing in your all day and I love those kind of posts. You make absolutely valid points. I guess the difficulty is that (I’m assuming) the majority of the audience were mums, and whilst the generalisations aren’t fair and putting others down is not the way forward in life, I guess the speakers were probably trying to appeal to who they thought their audience were (by making generalisatons about them as mothers) . . . God I can feel this comment becoming a mind dump and I’m not even sure what my point is.

    I can’t bear the whole Dad’s are cr@p thing. Parenting is a partnership, or at least it is in our house! He cooks, I clean, we both change bums, play and read stories. We are a team. Not a him and a her with jobs to match.

    I’ll stop now . . .

    • Haha re: first sentence. Thanks – yeah it was – I wondered how best to tackle this (if I should at all) and hopefully it is constructive and not just a bitch fest. Exactly – same as BML, you’re talking 95% of the audience being women, so I get that you need to play to the masses. But, what I find a bit strange is when the likes of BritMums and Mumsnet say they are pro dad (which, let’s be fair, they are) but then alienate the few dads who’ve paid £90+ to attend and be insulted! Exactly – same with us – a relationship, marriage and parenthood should be about 50/50 with your partner (although being all inclusive, we can’t forget the single parents). Thanks for your thoughts 🙂

  • Spot on post Dave, I think we all (parents) have a responsibility to change the sterotypical and uneducated comments of those out of line if we really want to change opinions on “parenting”. I was shocked by some of the tweets coming from Mumsnet this weekend and got annoyed by them from afar so how you managed being there is beyond me.

    If your respective other halves aren’t doing enough it’s not down to them being a “lazy dad” or mum for that matter more “lazy individuals”, the bigger fool though is the one moaning and still putting up with it.

    • YES! I don’t these people who complain that their other halves don’t do enough. Don’t let them? By putting up with it they perpetuate the situation. We are a team in our house, we share the load. (Unless it means getting up in the night, then that’s pretty much my job 😉 ) x

      • Damn straight sister! Don’t bitch behind their back, just deal with it. If your partner won’t listen or respect you, maybe, just maybe, they aren’t for you!

    • Cheers mate – yeh agreed. I wondered whether to write this or not, but if I didn’t, the issue wouldn’t be raised or addressed. Haha, I can image you fuming at home, smashing up your Lego etc 🙂 Couldn’t agree more with your last point – at times, it was like they were lashing out at others because they’d made shit choices about their own relationships!

  • Donna Wishart

    Such a shame. Especially after BritMums. I hope this doesn’t put you off future conferences and I really hope the organisers start to take note. men may be the minority in the parent blogging world but they play no less valid a part.

    • Cheers Donna – nah, it doesn’t put me off. This stereotype is something I deal with quite often because I’m with my daughter during the day, when shock horror, I should be in work haha. All it makes me do is want to speak out and fight the dad corner more. Thanks, totally agree re: your last sentence.

  • Clare

    I love this post Dave, I remember lots of similar views after britmums! About time daddy’s looking after kids was recognised! My hubby did the stay at home dad thing for 3 years before we decided to swap and sometimes I think he did a far better job! Xx

    • Thanks Clare. Yeah, I wrote about something similar after BML as it felt like dads were made to be the joke with some of the comments. We’re all parents, be it mum or dad, and should work together in your relationship / partnership to raise your kids in the fashion you think is best.

  • The Speed Bump

    I think you’re absolutely spot on. I had severe PND and can’t even describe how much of the slack my partner took on alongside having a job. To hear those comments would have made me very angry, and the thought of my teetotal DP only being happy at the pub – I think I would’ve laughed out loud! Very well said.

    • Thanks for the comment. Yeah exactly – everyone’s family situation is different and stereotyping in this way does not help anyone at all.

  • I’m totally with you, I really can’t understand why they choose to address the audience as ladies and then to berate men. I don’t wish to join them, that is not what my marriage is about. Yes the way forward to to be called parents. Mich x

    • Thanks Mich, pleased you agree. As a bloke, I do wonder if I’m being over sensitive about things like this, so it’s nice to hear that mums agree too. Exactly, me too – my marriage is 50/50, agree on everything together etc – I don’t know how some can have a 70/30.

  • Sian PottyMouthedMummy

    You definitely make a point and you’ve done it very well. The session (and all sessions at these conferences) should be focused on parenthood and not just motherhood. I even found at times I had to open the programme to remind myself what the session was meant to be about. I especially didn’t like the comment about how women shouldn’t be grateful all the time, that’s just good manners surely? My husband and son say thanks when I cook their dinner and tidy? Why should I not say thank you for the reverse? There are definitely issues facing women in the workplace (mothers or not) but this isn’t because of men. It’s because of a wide variety of reasons and while it needs to change, it doesn’t need to be done at the expense of men. That becomes a hypocritical message. Well done for writing the post and getting it out. It needed to be said and I hope people keep doing so.

    • Thanks Sian. Haha, I agree, I too had to check the description of sessions at times. I’m not saying Britmums should be Britparents or Mumsnet should be Parentnet (although that would be the ideal end goal!), more that in a session such as this, the same thoughts, feelings and fears are experienced by both men and woman. Yeah I agree – good manners and mutual respect in a relationship! Thanks for your thoughts.

  • Spot. On.

    As well as the cost, I’m often apprehensive about blogging events (although I do still want to go to at least one in my lifetime) as I don’t like how stereotypical they are.

    In a world where the modern day parent is often no longer made up of one mum and one dad, you’d think they’d get with the program. I’m not even talking about same-sex couples like us, what about single parents? Families of divorce where parents share responsibility but between two homes?

    Every now and again the wife and I feel very isolated and we hate feeling like this as all we’re doing is raising a child.

    Sharon also often thinks about where she sits in today’s world of parenthood and although she doesn’t doubt for one second that she is T’s mum, it’s still something she shouldn’t have to think about, so I’m all for dumping the stereotypes.

    Let’s just “parent”.

    • Exactly – the days of it just being one working dad and one stay at home mum are well over. There’s so many different family set ups and this should be reflected. Yes, the majority are still the one working dad and one stay at home mum, but say that makes up 65%, what, we ignore the 35% which is actually a really big group? Becoming a parent (no matter gender, sexual preference, race etc) is bloody tough and raises a lot of questions – let’s help each other, not alienate. Agreed, let’s just parent!

  • Man vs Pink

    You’ve basically justified my suspicion of attending a parent blogging conference run by an organisation with ‘mums’ in the title. But then (devil’s advocate), is it surprising that such an organisation would talk up the role of mums in the parenting arena? Dad’s are excluded already in the name…

    • Yep agreed – Parentsnet would be loads better, but let’s focus on making that change in 2016 🙂 To be fair, I’ve focussed on the 5% bad of the event, whereas 95% was good. I do at times feel like the odd one out, but if I don’t go, that’s one less dad represented, so I kind of feel like I should put myself out there. Again, we’re talking about the minority of women – there’s so many nice comments from others saying it’s good to see dads attend etc, so we are wanted and welcome.

  • Sad I couldn’t be there for so many reasons, would have loved to hang out with you and Emma again too. Sorry to hear comments were made that upset you, and others. I can say that the TV and film industry that Meera Syal, and I, have worked in for many years can be hugely sexist, female directors make up just 7% of women, and budgets/wages/ worth is not yet equal in that world (or sadly in the workplace generally as you know). That doesn’t mean flyaway comments made by anyone shouldn’t be critiqued though or defended. I suppose I would have loved more context, to see/read the whole part of that segment and what was said not because I doubt you but I would have liked to have been there. It sounds frustrating though. I hate the assumption men want to be ‘at the pub’-my husband and I are entirely equal (he’s not a fan of football or the pub as it goes), I’m also raising feminist sons. It’s crucial you and we speak up, and these sorts of sexist assumptions are challenged. I love your intelligent stance of reverting the gender roles to assess equality. As you wisely note, there can be no equality if men, or women, are undermining or attacking one another, however subtly. Thank you for raising this and hope to see you soon. P.S Thanks too for making me feel normal, those universal questions you’ve raised are so important, we all have doubts on who we are, and what we want to be and making those public, help us all. They ensure we don’t feel so alone and they bridge the gender gap, the media so often wants us to believe exists.

    • Thanks for your thoughts Vic. Yeah totally, people are talking from their experiences, and if it is something that they’ve been through (e.g. mass sexism in work), it’s not wrong to talk about it. But, generalising and pulling other groups down to raise your stock, is not the best way of going about it. Yeah same – it’s always hard writing something back when you don’t have a video / script etc, because it does make you question what was said and how it was said! Haha, you’re welcome – that’s the point – whether you’re a working mum, stay at home dad, single mum, alien with 12 eyes, we all have the same (or similar) thoughts when it comes to parenting and the massive changes it makes to your life. By being inclusive and showing that we’re all the same, hopefully we can best support each other rather than alienate and marginalise certain groups.

      • Totally agree Dave, loved this a exceptionally well written, thought provoking post, thank you x

  • ash

    So many points I agree with here, that is maybe why I have steered clear of these events so far. I’d feel shunned and exiled being a stay at home dad and my opinion would be irrelevant because I’m a bloke

    • Cheers Ash. Please don’t think like that though – I’ve been to 2 blogging conferences now, and even though I do at times feel out of place, on the whole, everyone is totally lovely and it’s great to attend (both mums and dads). As dad bloggers / vloggers, if we don’t attend things like this and represent our opinion, who will? It’s a bit of a vicious circle – as blokes and dads, we can’t complain that we’re not represented, if we don’t attend and represent ourselves in the first place. I’d really recommend going to something like this in the future, just prepare to be annoyed at certain points haha.

  • As I’m not a parent I don’t think I have any authority on commenting on this post, but everything you’ve written is so interesting and honest and I can really really really get behind your points about all being in it together and ‘parenthood’ – I will really take this to heart when I eventually do become a parent -jenny xx

    • Thanks Jenny, pleased it has given you food for thought. In the interests of being all inclusive (as I write!), just because you’re not a parent, I don’t think it makes your opinion less valid etc. 🙂

  • This is why I don’t go to some of these events these women panels would irritate me no end. I wouldn’t expect anything else from mumsnet anyway i hate the site, I’m sure the event was good but never one for me. Good post thanks for sharing

    • Thanks Hannah – haha, I can’t comment on that as don’t use the Mumsnet forums or anything, only the blogger network. It was a good event, just need a bit of a thick skin at times 🙂

  • Tim

    In fairness (and I think Dave will agree), the balance of the rest of the day was actually pretty good. Some sessions were better than others, as is always the case, but the Think Bombs sessions with Sandi Toksvig, Val McDermid and David Baddiel was brilliant – the first two showed exactly how you can be female-positive without being male-negative – and I thought Shappi Khorsandi was hilarious and honest (almost uncomfortably so at times).

    I certainly wouldn’t let the experience put me off. I came away with a couple of useful nuggets (which is all I ever hope for) and had a great time meeting up with other bloggers, both familiar and new, many of whom felt the same about that opening session as Dave and I did.

    To the other dads: I wouldn’t be put off attending. I’ve never been to a conference that I’ve been entirely happy with. And, to be honest, I would pay the ticket price just for the opportunity to #drinkpink cocktails with Dave afterwards.

    Finally, a small plug: Dave and I will be talking about Blogfest further on my podcast on Friday. Assuming we’ve stopped drinking cocktails by then, that is.

    • Totally agree Tim. I’ve focussed on the 5% bad in this post as I felt it needed to be addressed, however the other 95% was good and I’ll be saying that when I do my round up post. Some of the other sessions – like what you mention – were really enjoyable. Yep, agree entirely – my intention isn’t to put other dads off going, in fact it’s the opposite – how are we ever supposed to create change unless other dads get involved and we stand ready to be counted. If dads avoid going, then these stereotypes etc will remain. SPARTA!

  • Katy Wheatley

    Your post was interesting. My husband attended with me on Saturday and he found the initial session beyond irritating for the reasons you state. I have mixed feelings. I felt that Bridget Christie in particular was trying quite hard not to let things slide towards man bashing but perhaps the chairperson wasn’t ready to let it go so readily and in the end it was easy to take the laugh. After all, she is a comedian. I imagine it was difficult up there, particularly with the Margaret Atwood link going down and it obviously caused some tension on stage. Perhaps if she had been a full participant there would have been less ‘need’ for others to reflexively reach for easy gags to smooth the discussion. It wasn’t the best start to the day I agree, but there was, as you say, a lot they got right.

    • Thanks for your thoughts Katy, interesting to hear. Yeah, I agree with your points – there were a couple of ‘technical’ things like the video link which I imagine changed the dynamic. I feel the moderator could have been a little stronger though – it felt like she joined in a bit, rather than stayed neutral and steered the topic away. The example that sticks in my mind was during the Q&A’s when Darren made a point about being a stay at home dad, then the moderators first comment was to question if he got drunk around his kid – that wouldn’t have been asked about a woman and played to the unfair stereotype once more. Thanks for your thoughts 🙂

  • Michelle Kellogg

    It sounds like those women should have been the ones to go to the pub so they could vent about their husbands not picking up the slack, and not man bash at a conference. Men and women have differences and both genders need to vent every now and then but there is a time and a place for it and that’s not at a conference. Coming from a world (my life) where most men have only ever let me down, I can understand the need to vent about the opposite sex. I have also had sexist experiences before, particularly in the work place but I have also met many men, most of whom are bloggers, who are real decent men and great dads and I respect tham immensely! So I agree that, at the end of the day, we are all parents, not moms or dads, just parents. We are trying to raise our children to the best of our abilities and instead of seeing each other at enemies, we should be working together to change the future for our children. Being the mom of two boys really helped me to change my views on men as a whole. I grew up surrounded by certain mentalities: mentalities that I don’t want my kids to have but in order to make sure of that, I had to change my view of the world. It starts with the parents, both mothers and fathers. I commend you for speaking out about this. Wouldn’t it be great if someone passed your post along to Mumsnet, they read it and because of it, they changed their dialogue for next year? We have to have people willing to speak out against this sort of thing if we ever hope to change things for our kids. As for the creativity thing, I have always been creative but it wasn’t until after I had my boys that I started to put those creative juices to work, so the opposite happened to me. I felt lost too after becoming a mother, losing my identity for a short while but the important thing is that we also seem to find ourselves in parenthood. Great Post! I really enjoyed reading this!

    • Hi Michelle, thanks for the comments and kind words. Totally agree with everything you said. I have no issue in people bitching about others – sometimes you just need to vent about your other half or a mate etc. But, as you say, doing this at a conference is not the right way of going about it. This post has been passed to Mumsnet numerous times by other people, but as of writing this, I’ve not heard anything back yet, which is a little disappointing – I’m hoping they deal with it rather than bury their heads. Thanks – I wasn’t sure whether to write this or not, but kind of thought that if I don’t, who will.

      • Michelle Kellogg

        It would be a damn shame if they didn’t take the time to respond to this issue. It would speak volumes about how they operate. Of course, it’s holiday season so maybe they’re busy but still.. If I ran a conference and numerous people were complaining about the way something was addressed, I would respond to that. Don’t let it discourage you though. It’s clear by all of the comments here that many feel the same way you feel.

  • Linda F McGarrigle

    loved this article… just so you know I reckon Dad’s stay at home ones or work all day ones are pretty cool, my OH is the stay at home Dad and it’s amazing the comments I’ve heard over the years …such as ooooo! you’ve got him well trained, oh lucky you , you have it easy etc it’s all nonsense really! i was stay at home for the first couple of years and now he is, it works for us when it stops working (or if) we would look at changing it, we both work very hard as parents regardless of where we are, we are a team and i know just how hard he works when I’m not there and vice versa, just you keep on being an awesome Dad, as for those who are judgemental about it because “men need to be instructed” maybe they are picking the wrong men 😉

    • Thanks Linda – couldn’t agree more! Both parents are equal and a relationship should be equal. If you’re being told what to do by your other half or he’s not pulling his weight, then maybe you need to look at your own choices in life. Yeah, both Hay and I get comments like that – a lot of the time it’s not malicious and is just saying something because we are ‘different’, but there’s really no point to even say it!

  • Hannah Clarke

    I was annoyed by that session too and told Mumsnet so in my feedback. My husband works full time and will be the first to admit that he does struggle with getting himself and Toby up, fed, washed, dressed and out of the door before midday if I’m not around but it would be the same for me if I was the one working and he stayed at home doing that routine day in day out. Yes, there may be a larger proportion of mums who take the majority control over childcare but that’s not because men are incapable for goodness sake!xx

    • Thanks Hannah, good to hear that it wasn’t just the dads and totally agree with your points. Thanks for giving the feedback too, I’ll be doing the same and let’s hope that the more people that say something, the more it will be listened to.

  • Victoria Welton

    I have to say that I did sit there cringing when they were doing the Daddy-bashing. I think that at the end of the day we should all be supporting each other – no matter what our gender is! Great to see you – and we must chat for longer next time!

    • Thanks Vic and yep, totally agree! Although there were a lot of laughs in the room and it did go down well, it’s nice to know that others (male and female) felt uncomfortable at times. Yes, nice chatting to you too 🙂

  • Sam

    I think people do tend to generalise based on their own experiences – I work part time in an office where there are a fair few other mums in the same situation. We have all kind of consoled each other about what seem like universal failings of the men in our lives. However, when you put it in the context of say, people tarring all muslims as terrorists or something then, yes, it does show up a very prejudiced attitude and I think it also enables a large proportion of men to continue to play out the roles which society has traditionally prescribed for them when in fact attitudes in the wider, public, social arena need to change first before everyone can get it that actually equailty cuts both ways.

    • Totally agree Sam – the more I wrote it, the more I thought that this is a wider society thing – not just men vs women but ultimately different people vs different people. I totally agree that things like this are based on your own experiences – if you (not you, the general you) and your friends have had bad experiences with men as husbands and dads, then yes, you’re going to generalise and think they are all dicks. But, as mentioned in the post, 70% generalisation misses out the 30% outliers who are different. Thanks for your thoughts 🙂

  • Rebecca

    I’ve read your post and all the comments, and this has been really interesting for me. I was in the session, and I’m sorry to say now that I nodded and laughed along with some of the ‘dad bashing’ comments. And the reason for that is that my partner has just left me and our young baby, and I am extremely hurt and not in a very good place, and it was all so TRUE in my experience. However, reading this has opened my eyes a lot. I’ve realised that the points that I laughed along with ARE sweeping generalisations, it’s just that my ex partner happened to fit them. It’s wonderful that Dads such as you are challenging them. If parenting was equal, if it was ‘parents net’ instead of ‘mums net’, then maybe SOME men, such as my baby’s dad, wouldn’t fall into the stereotype. It’s also made me realise, that perhaps you’re not all the same after all 😉 Thank you.

    • Hi Rebecca – thanks for your honest comments, it really touched me reading that. Firstly, sorry you’ve been going through a shit time and, because of your experiences, it’s no wonder that you laughed and found solace in what was said. At the end of the day, we recognise and relate to what we’ve experienced, so you have no reason to apologise for laughing 🙂 I’m pleased it has opened your eyes and hopefully has given you hope that not all blokes and dads are pricks – yes, there are a lot out there, but there’s also a lot that aren’t. Really appreciate your honesty 🙂

  • I’m a non-stereotype human so I’m used to being in a margin. You are right to stand up for dad’s who stay at home with their children. ‘Dad bashing’ at these high profile venues is definitely not on so good on you for having your ‘rant’. It’s totally justified.

    • Thanks Tracey, I’m definitely taking you into battle with me then 🙂

  • Amy Ransom

    Ah Dave. Ok I think what’s happened here is a couple of things. Firstly the fact it was run by Mumsnet meant it was always going to have a very female focus. I’m not sure the panel were necessarily going for the cheap laugh-Bridget (was that her name?!) was quite supportive of dads I thought. But the reality is for a lot of us that that stereotype does exist. Many of my friends’ other halves use the word ‘babysitting’ when looking after their own kids. Many of us just feel a bit resentful that our lives have changed so much (as has yours) and that we do all the planning whether we are at home or we work. I salute you for being a SAHD and for being brave enough to face a conference where the majority are women! I think it was probably an arena where women felt comfortable sharing their grievances and unfortunately this may have come across as man bashing. I do also think that it’s important we have that space to do so but we probably do need to leave the stereotypes behind. But that’s going to take both parties. The mums. AND the dads. Nice to see you briefly and thought provoking post.

  • john adams

    I fear this doesn’t surprise me at all Dave. As you’ll know I’m a stay at home dad. While I wasn’t at this session, I can take a guess at what the gripes were; my man doesn’t know my child’s school teacher’s name / can’t cook for the family / never helps with homework. I’ll just give one example, but when my wife has had to do the school run, I have, in the past, had to write her a map so she knows where she is going in the school. Do I hold this against her? Absolutely not, it’s down to experience. I have the experience of going into that playground daily, she doesn’t. I also choose not to criticise her for this. Alas, it is still acceptable to take pot shots at men and their domestic abilities, though wo betide anyone criticising a woman in the workplace. Get a large number of women in one place who feel a bit aggrieved and sadly this is the response. I challenge with uch percetpions ot try being a SAHDF for the day. it’s tough.

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  • As the host of #coolmumclub I’m probably on your hit list?! have always tried to express my wants to have the dads join in but can understand the name is probably a turn off! It’s just that coolparentsclub didn’t have the same ring?…. I totally support your cause in this post though, and believe me my husband is as cool dad club as they come. We have hurrah’ when dads like John joined in as I’m all about hearing the Dads perspective. I admit I prob wouldn’t have thought much at hearing the dad bashing at the conference…until now. Thanks for opening my eyes a little and let’s hope they take note at BritMums16.

  • Sharon Lawton

    loved your blog! The “dad/male” bashing thing is something that I feel very strongly about for a few reasons
    1. I work full time, have my own business and my husband is a stay at home dad! He is brilliant and I couldn’t run my business without his support at home with the family and house – we are a team and that’s the way we both like it.
    2. I am a mother of boys – what sort of society do we live in that promotes equal rights for our daughters but not our sons where making choices about life etc is concerned
    3. I am a parent coach – all my group coaching programmes are available to both parents, however we have recently found that some fathers feel prohibited to come just because of this reason – I have to say on the odd occasion that there has been a throw away commit in any of my groups I pick up on it immediately – It does strike me as odd that some women feel it’s ok to put men down, but absolutely would not accept any so called “fun poking” or “detrimental” comments the other way around.
    I’m currently running a series of parenting programmes that are targeted specifically at fathers. It felt odd at first inviting just dads, and I have to say I was apprehensive about how the fathers would feel about a women delivering the sessions, but that was my story that I was running. I needn’t of worried – we are are on our 3rd co-hort I have found all the sessions to be warm, open, funny and honest. All the dads have been so supportive of each other and it has been an absolute pleasure to facilitate/coach these sessions. I don’t deliver them any differently to how I would if I had a room full of mothers in front of me – why should I!!!!!!?? Good for you bringing this up for discussion, you are absolutely right, we should all be supporting each other in our role as parents regardless of gender or sexual orientation – it’s a tough job, and we are all doing the best we can do

  • Megan Bidmead

    Thank you for this. I’ve always hated the term ‘babysitting’ when used to describe Dads looking after their babies, and I’ve always bemoaned things like lack of baby changing facilities that men can use, etc. However, I probably use the term ‘motherhood’ when I really mean ‘parenthood’ – so thank you for writing this. I’m going to have a think about it!

    If I were you my blood would have been boiling during that session – how shortsighted of them to a) presume everybody attending would be mothers, not fathers and b) slagging off Dads for comedic purposes! x