Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Hump Day Hmm - What Would Angela Say?

Hump Day Hmm
With only one day notice (!! - I like to ponder topics ad nauseum before I post), here is the scenario that I will pontificate upon for this week's Hump Day Hmm, sponsored by Julie Pippert's Using My Words:
You're having coffee with some of your playgroup mom friends when one tells you she has the funniest story. "Some dad wanted in our playgroup," she laughs, "I told him no boys allowed. He was disappointed, but having a man would be too awkward, and anyway, our group is full, don't you think?" What do you think? What do you say?
Right now, our family consists of a WOHM (work outside the home mom) and a SAHD (stay at home dad - I know, these acronyms make my head spin as well), so this is the perfect scenario for me to blow my top over. So here's what I think. I've lived my life as minority and as a woman and have experienced plenty of discrimination, from being called "Chinky" in school, to being asked why I don't have an accent, to comments that women should be secretaries, etc. Excluding someone based solely on sex is discrimination, plain and simple. What is the focus of the playgroup? To get together on the commonality of having children of the same age. Basically, being a parent. Moms and dads face the same parenting challenges, especially in this day and age. I don't know of a dad who doesn't change diapers, get up in the middle of the night or juggle family and work. For the small and brave group of stay at home dads, it is even more important to network with other parents to keep their sanity. Doug has made some connections with other dads from our preschool and sports activities, but the moms mostly keep to themselves. Where does this woman get off? Are we still in junior high school? Do you think he'll start hitting on us or something? What is discussed in the playgroup that couldn't include men? Do we discuss intimate details of our sex lives? Menstrual cycles? Trash our husbands mercilessly? No (hopefully not)! We talk about the latest exasperation that our children has thrown at us. So maybe it would be slightly awkward to include a man at first, but having a different point of view can only be an asset to the group. This sort of intolerance is totally unacceptable and I would seriously consider leaving the group if she continued to be closed-minded about it. It's not that I don't believe in ladies only activities (we need to set up another ladies' night out, Jennifer), but a playgroup is about kids and parents, not just moms.

What I would say is a totally different story. I'm not one to pick a fight and I usually like to mull it over for a while before I confront someone. It would probably go something like this:
Well, I don't think we need to exclude men necessarily, after all they're parents as well. Do you think his kids would get along with ours? Don't you think guys should be involved in their kids' activities?
Ah yes, ever so polite, none of those fuming words in my head making it out of my mouth. Divert the attention to the benefit for the children. At least I have the blog where I can rant about it!


Bigqueue said...

Here, here.....I'm a guy, and while I'm not a stay-at-home dad, I am a dad none the less, and always darn involved with my kids....I agree with you 1000%!

My take on all of this is sexism and racism sort of stuff is this.....how can we say we want and have equality if we don't actually treat people as equals and just look past this sexism/racism.

I like the "kid focussed" approach to the argument/discussion.....I think that puts the emphasis right here it belongs....and is a natural and normal way to "take the high road" in a discussion like this. (always a good idea)

Robert said...

I think your perspective is totally on point. I've been a Dad among Mom's and been completely comfortable. I've always had more female friends than male, so I'm completely fine with hanging out with women. I've found that after a few minutes of getting the "what's he doing there vibe" I can break down the walls and get people talking when I want to in these settings. Narrow-mindedness has no place in any setting, especially not one where parents are helping their kids learn to play together. Imagine excluding a Mom because she only had boys and all the other kids were girls. It's not all that different, but it even looks worse because the kid feels left out and doesn't have any idea why. I'm glad I didn't get left out of playgroups because I was a boy. That's how I made those female friends so young.

Good post.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a mommy yet. I also didn't grow up in an area that had to have playdates, etc but what I do realize is that boys and girls, moms and dads deal with the same issues, you know this thing called life and to be excluded because of sex is just wrong. So I personally would invite the dad to go to playgroup with me just for the discomfort effect (ok I think I would, maybe...)

Julie Pippert said...

Very well put...I agree totally. And I admit, I really like your approach to it.

It's so true that we need to stop this homogenized clumping and base togetherness on more openness.

Anonymous said...

I agree 100%

However - as a SAHM - a lot of times when I am planning a playdate for my preschooler - I am not only looking for a playmate for my daughter but also for a potential friend for me. And at this point in my life - having a female friend is easier and less complicated than having a male friend.

So, does that mean I exclude the SAHD from group playdates? - heavens no... but as a personal playdate, most likely yes. Sorry, but that is the way it goes.

One of the reasons is because I'm married. Marriage is tough enough without adding those extra inuendos. Even in a trusting relationship, there can be hard feelings.

thailandchani said...

I agree with you completely.. and some day perhaps someone will write about the roots of discrimination, both large scale and small scale. They're both equally damaging.

le35 said...

First of all, I just wish that I had a play group and maybe issues would come up, but I'd have a group of moms to talk about it with. That said, I know a few great stay-at-home dads, and if it were a big group of moms and kids, I think that dads should definately be able to come. However, I'm with Karmyn. One on one, I probably would rather have a mom.

Annie said...

I'm with you 100%

Melissa said...

We have a lot of SAHDs in Stepford. I don't even blink an eye anymore. But, that said, we didn't go out of our way to invite them to playgroups and stuff. Mostly because we didn't want our spouses feeling uncomfortable. Or in one case, his spouse.

I still feel bad about it.

And oh I am sooo wishing I had stuck to this topic. Guess whose been reading my blog w/o me knowing it? It's been a loooooong day as a result...:(