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How Feminism Redefined Fatherhood – For The Better

Here’s something many people might not know about Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Before becoming a justice on the Supreme Court, she was a highly distinguished women’s rights attorney for the ACLU that included fighting for the rights of men. One of Ginsburg’s earliest cases was fighting to secure equal Social Security benefits for widowers. Before then, widowers were not given equal compensation as widows. The men were seen as primary breadwinners, so they didn’t need the extra money, whereas women were seen as the caregivers, so they needed all the money they could get. Ginsburg contended that just because a man was a man doesn’t mean he couldn’t be a primary caregiver to his children. If we looked past the “masculine” stereotype, the Court could see that men who chose to be caregivers instead of breadwinners were just as important if the role was vice versa.

That’s right men, a feminist convinced an entire Supreme Court that you are entitled to equal compensation if you decided to be a father instead of an employee. While it seemed to be a small issue for a little few, it was a changing legal landscape in how men were viewed under the law.

Speaking of breadwinners, did you know 40% of American households see women as either a contributing or sole earner in a household with a child under 18? As more women enter the workforce to contribute their families, the burden of men giving to work longer hours to make more money is eased. In effect, men are able to spend more tis with their children. The burden could be further eased if women were paid equally to their male counterparts, another issue that is being championed by feminists.

That is just one example of how feminism has helped the family unit. Another prime example of how women’s equality has helped men is the fight for paid (or unpaid) family leave. Feminists and women-alike have been fighting for years to get adequate protections from work discrimination by requesting and fighting for paid family leave, or in their case paid (or unpaid) maternity leave. The United States pales horribly in comparison to other countries who offer paid family leave.

However, because of that tough fight ahead from feminists, men have jumped on board in an effort to become a father and raise their kids. New York Mets second baseman David Murphy and MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes have been relentlessly criticized for taking time off to care for their children. Before, decades ago, paternal leave was almost unheard of. The gender stereotypes that engulfed men and a warped sense of masculinity made paternal childcare look weak, emasculated, and socially unacceptable. Because of feminism, paternal leave has allowed a more equal division of work between men and women by fostering paternal involvement in childcare, which has eroded some of the social stigma of a stay-at-home dad, or a dad who works part time.

Because of feminism, and the legal champions who fight for it, being a dad no longer means being distant so long as you provide money. It means taking care of your children, being recognized for taking care of our children, and getting the same rights and protections as mothers to do so.

Featured image via video screen capture