Some good news has come out of the USA this week. And it’s not about Donald ‘let’s build a wall and round up the Muslims’ Trump not-apologising for his sexist and misogynist trail of destruction. It’s that the Obama administration has quietly signed off on legislation that will mandate baby change facilities to be made available to men in all public buildings in the USA.
As a perceived advocate of all things Dadding related, I’ve had a few people ask me for my thoughts on the matter. Here they are:
I think it’s good news for democracy, because an actual real-life government (one that’s far more volatile, complex and divided than our own) managed to agree on something for long enough to make a law. Not a motion. Not an accord. Not a royal commission. An actual law. And let’s face it. Democracy both here and abroad needs a good news story right now.
I think it’s good news for mothers, because now when you’re on a family shopping trip and your baby violates his/her nappy with one of those clay coloured, squirt-up-the-back, evil smelling spawns of satan, dad has no excuse to not step up and deal with it himself.
I think it’s especially good news for all of the awesome hands-on dads out there, because it recognises the growing importance of men in the nurturing role. A role that has previously been considered the exclusive domain of the fairer sex.
But that’s about where it ends for me. I’d like to care more, but I just don’t.
The reasons for my apathy are twofold.
Firstly, I’ve never really been bothered when there hasn’t been an accessible change table in my hour of need. I’ve changed filthy stinking nappies in the boot and backseat of my car. On the seat beside me in a semi-crowded cafe. On a park bench. On the floor in a disabled bathroom. In the pram. In the mens toilet at the gym. It’s not ideal, but then not many things in life are. There are so many more important injustices in the world that we can get our dad-knickers in a twist about. Personally I know I’ve only got so many fucks that I can give. I’m sure as hell not wasting any on whether there’s a change table in the mens bathroom at the local shopping mall.
Secondly, I have a major philosophical issue with dads trying to play the hard-done-by card with this sort of stuff. I’ve seen some prominent dad-figures in the USA lauding this as a giant step forward for gender equality. Gender equality? Men? WTF?
Lets make one thing perfectly clear. Dads are not a victimised minority. We do not face a daily battle for recognition and acceptance in the same way that people with disabilities do. Or our brothers and sisters in the LGBT community. Or many women for that matter.
I’m usually loathe to use the term “harden up” because of the blokey connotations, but in this case I feel it’s warranted. If being forced to change a baby’s nappy in the boot of the car instead of on a plastic fold-down table in a public bathroom is the most you’ve ever been discriminated against, then….well….have a big old drink of cement and harden the fuck up.