Image via Imnop88a on Flickr
I had beers with my neighbour tonight. Our boys are the same age, play together, go to school together. Great people.
We talked about our kids, school, activity, politics, and … race. My neighbour is of African heritage and he was talking about Obama and how he was in a hole before he even started because of his color. “He has to be great to even be considered good,” he explained noting it’s nothing you can understand until you live it.
But then my wife told me about a discussion in a Facebook group for local moms.
“They’re polling members about adding men,” she said.
And then I got exactly what my friend meant. I, too, have experienced marginalization. I have been banned from participating in an online discussion group simply because I’m a dad.
The group was one I had tried to join in the summer. We were selling a lot of our kids’ toys and so I was looking for groups in my community where I could network with other parents and post items for sale. Yes, it was labeled as a “Mom group” – I’ll bite on the stereotype that it is usually moms who do these kinds of social network selling – but it was an open group, so I clicked the “join” button.
The next day I received a note from the admin saying she would have to remove me because I was a dad. The group was for moms only, and she explained many women would be uncomfortable if a man was in the group.
I was confused. Actually, I was steamed and told her so.
You see, it’s a public, open Facebook group. Any lurker can see anything that anyone has posted, member or not. Most of the moms in the group are asking advice about nannies, sharing deals at the local grocery store, and selling hand-me-downs. No big deal.
But dads – men – are not allowed.
When the poll was put up, the vast majority of women encouraged dads to be allowed. Single dads, stay-at-home dads, fathers who are active with their kids would find use with meeting other active and engaged parents they said.
All except one.
“Women only please,” posted the dissenter. “You don’t know these men and that you’ve had men put female faces on to get in says it all. Dad’s can create a Dad’s group for stay at home Dad’s if they want it. There are enough of them. Women only is more comfortable to speak on certain topics. If you allow men, they should be referred by a Mom and personally checked out.”
And there it is. The thing that moms don’t understand – dads are parents too. We are just as equal as moms are on the family team. We all have different jobs, but when it comes down to it we’re all parents.
I am an active, engaged father. I do the cooking and shopping for my family. I see the sales they talk about, but am not allowed to participate in the group because I’m a man.
Dads need to be personally checked out, she says. Because we’re all – what exactly? Oh, right. All men are evil.
“If it is for men too then there has to be a system in place to ensure that they are not predators,” the lone voice against men joining a public group continued. “I’m sorry for sounding unsympathetic to the good Dads out there.. these people are men, not women. I know some women can be cows, but most are not stalking children. It’s as simple as that.”
Moms may not stalk children in her world, but she does an excellent job of trolling dads.
I don’t know what “certain topics” this woman is uncomfortable discussing because, well, the group is public, and anyone can see anything that anyone has written and click right over to their personal profile and learn all they want about them. In her disputing of men joining the group she names members of her family and shares details about a friend’s daughter who had been raped. She did all this in a public forum. For anyone to see. I’m not quite sure what she has left to hide.
So are we just as bad as the moms in this open Facebook group? No. Our group is for dads to work out dad-specific issues. In it we talk about our problems as parents, our ideas on blogging, we bitch about how brands treat dads, and I’ll throw this post in the mix to spark a discussion about how dads are continued to be marginalized the most by moms. We don’t hate moms, we just need our own closed-door clubhouse to speak freely and get things off our chest.
If the local moms had a private group where they told nasty stories about their husbands, gossiped about the moms at dance practice, and talked about their favourite 50 Shades chapter, I’d get it. I’m sure there are groups like that where women want to go and be left alone to talk about women things.
This group, however, is not that. It’s a public group where parents are talking about parent things in the local community. There’s nothing private, intimate, or embarrassing about any of the conversations. At least there wasn’t until this mom started labelling all local dads as potential predators.
Every other voice on the board was positive about men joining the group and being included as parents except the one. So perhaps my headline is unfair and moms do understand the role dads are playing in our community. But that reason the very vocal minority brings up absolutely stings. She’s adamant and almost religious in her belief that all men must be marginalized when it comes to access to public and open facebook groups. I can’t imagine how far she goes when putting her kids in activities or – gasp – school.