Dads be Damned! or…


wonderwoman…..how I am destroying American civilization as we know it.

Anyone who knows me can tell you that I am not a girl known for being in vogue. I’m not the kind of woman who, when you pass me on the street, elicits words like ‘hip’ or ‘stylin.’ I’m not big on trends. I generally have no desire to be the first person to have the latest gizmo or gadget, preferring to wait til they work out all the kinks…and the price goes down. I often will not do something I was considering if it becomes trendy in the interim, like getting a tattoo. I rather consider myself the anti-trend.

I also consider myself an ‘armchair feminist.’ I believe in women’s rights. In equal pay for equal work. That women are still treated unfairly and in some cases detrimentally in many sectors of our society, and certainly around the world. I have a solid, but what most would say less radical approach to the expression of my beliefs. No bra burner am I. Sorry, ladies, but that polyester, spandex, lycra, elastic contraption is a friend of mine, particularly when I’m forced to sprint after my 4 year old (and I assure you that this 39 year old body does not readily sprint in general, let alone without sufficient upper body support). I make no demand that we spell women with a “y.” I do wish I could list one of my titles at work as “web mistress” instead of “master,” but one must pick her battles.

Given the above, imagine my surprise when I was notified by two articles I read this past week that by being both a feminist (armchair or otherwise) and a single mom (raising a son, no less), not only am I part of a growing trend (and therefore trend-y), but that I:

“view men and women as being the same instead of different but equal” (emphasis mine)

“[believe] men are not important in the raising and nurturing of children”

‘diminish the value of two-parent households and role of good fathers’

“equated maleness with everything that’s repugnant”

and

“just love a movie that glamorizes teenage pregnancy and deprecates the male role in conception…” (Well, I’m not sure if I can argue with this last one—who DOESN’T love a movie that glamorizes teen pregnancy AND depreciates the male role in conception? It’s a two-fer, people—who’s not on board for BOGO?)

I had no idea I was such a busy woman! So much to do! Pack lunch, lay out clothes, go to work, pay the bills, castrate the entire male gender, destroy the very fabric with which our great society was created… Whew. No wonder I’m always so tired!

If only I were a LESBIAN, feminist, single mom, I’d have a trifecta: like a frickin’ atom bomb, I could obliterate culture, civilization, and all sense of order and moral decency in one foul swoop…sigh…maybe in my next life…

The two articles that schooled me in my destructive ways were “Why Jennifer Aniston Taking a Stand Against Bill O’Reilly Criticism Matters” on The Women’s Media Center site regarding comments Jennifer Aniston made while promoting her new film “The Switch,” and one called “Skinny Jeans, John Wayne, And The Feminization Of America” in The Bulletin: Philadelphia’s Family Newspaper, on gender roles and how men are no longer allowed to be ‘men.’

The Jennifer Aniston article talks about recent comments that she made while promoting her new film “The Switch” about a woman who decides to become a single mother by using a sperm donor. Mayhem ensues. A good time (she hopes) will be had by all. Her initial comment as quoted from the article was:

“Women are realizing it more and more, knowing that they don’t have to settle with a man just to have that child,” she told press last week. “Love is love and family is what is around you and who is in your immediate sphere.”

This comment apparently set off Bill O’Reilly (and really, what doesn’t set off Bill O’Reilly?) who, on his segment called “Cultural Warriors,” accused Jennifer of “throwing a message out to 12-year-olds and 13-year-olds that hey, you don’t need a guy, you don’t need a dad” and calling her public support of single parenthood “destructive to society.”

Considering it’s Bill O’Reilly, it is clear that anything that doesn’t fall into his definition of “the norm” would be destructive to society. But how is it that a film about “an unmarried 40-year-old woman [who] turns to a turkey baster in order to become pregnant”, that is rated PG-13 for “mature thematic content, sexual material including dialogue, some nudity, drug use and language,” is “throwing out a message” to TEENAGE girls? Has Jennifer been hitting the middle schools to give speeches about her cool new movie and how they all should follow in her character’s footsteps, immediately, if not sooner? Obviously both the film and the comments she made about single motherhood were directed at women of a certain age, namely those clearly well out of puberty.

Bill certainly has the right to take issue with single motherhood if he so chooses, but let’s stop trying to twist things around to make ignorant charges completely unrelated to the point.

(Speaking of completely unrelated, this is somewhat off topic, but—a turkey baster? Really?? Having gone through this process, I assure you that for most women, it’s much more clinical, and complicated, than that. I believe it’s safe to say that, in general, there is not a passel of single gals running amuck in the kitchen gadgets aisle with conception on the brain.)

Since The Switch is “from the people who brought you Juno” it’s serendipitous that the second article I read on the feminization of America should reference Juno, (quoted in the list above) as a film that “feminists just love” for both glamorizing teen pregnancy and dismissing the father figure. Since THIS film actually IS about teen pregnancy, I can honestly say I can see how some might view it as a ‘glamorization’ of the situation. However, I’m not sure how or why feminists in particular would have such adoration for it.

Aren’t feminists supposed to be for reproductive rights, and family planning centers, and female contraception? I guess I lost the memo from Gloria Steinem indicating that I should begin promoting teenage pregnancy. As I said, I’m an armchair feminist, so it must have slipped by me. I will get right on it.

What disturbed me most about this article on ‘gender roles’ was its inference that by choosing to be a single mom (and feminist—don’t forget that part), I had somehow declared men and all things manly as irrelevant, useless, and unsavory (“repugnant,” in fact). Like being trendy and promoting teen pregnancy, I had no idea that I was suddenly required to hate men and all they represented. The ignorance of this train of thought is truly mind-blowing.

While I’m sure there ARE single moms and/or feminists who DO hate men, for whatever reason, I have a news flash for author Jane Gilvary. I do not hate men. I love men. I have many wonderful, amazing men in my life. I adored my father who, along with my mother, raised me to be independent and stand on my own two feet. I am the product of the ‘family unit’ and I bear said unit no ill will. I place great importance on the role of men in raising and nurturing children, and consciously make an effort to include positive males in my son’s life. Luckily, I am surrounded by many such men, so the task is not as daunting as it could be for some. I DO view men and women as ‘separate but equal’ and have no desire to have us considered ‘the same.’

Oh, and I’ve never seen Juno.

My choice to become a single mother had nothing to do with devaluing or dismissing the role of men in the raising of children. It DID have to do with my strong desire to have children, my age (tickticktick), and the fact that I have not yet met the right man for me. He may be out there (I still hold out hope) and if he is, he will most certainly play an important role in the upbringing of my child.

In the meantime, I want my son to be happy, healthy, and comfortable being who he is. I am making my best effort to raise a good citizen and responsible human being. And the many males in my life assist me in doing so.

I have to say while I knew single motherhood was a hot button topic, I didn’t realize that that and feminism still drew such ire from certain spheres of our society.

I had no idea I was involved in a cultural war. I believe I will need a better bra for this.

Stephanie R.

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