I've been working up to a post about fatherhood versus motherhood. Grrl's commenters touched on it in her post, and it was really brought home to me in an article I'm editing at work right now. The article is an analysis of what social workers should do about the fact that fathers generally have nothing whatsoever to do with their children, once the children are in foster care. All social work services are geared toward the mothers.
The article was debating between (a) establishing father-oriented services, just for men, to help teach them how to help their children and improve the family's well-being, and (b) saying that why the fuck should men get special treatment? The mothers are expected to do all the heavy lifting and deal with the foster care system entirely on their own. What's stopping the men from doing their fair share?
I'm inclined to agree with the latter, and I always want to say a big "Fuck you!" to people who act like a man taking his kids to the park is so cute and such a sweet thing to do, when he is surrounded by dozens of mothers doing the exact same thing. But on the other hand, when it comes to kids in foster care, the important thing is helping the kids, right? Even if that means giving their fathers a little unfair extra hand, if it'll improve the kids' lives?
This paragraph in the article really irked me:
"Some caseworkers attributed a gender bias in part to the fact that many social service systems, such as public assistance, were established primarily for mothers, who are used to accepting help and have learned to cope with travel, bureaucracy, paperwork, and inevitable delays. Participants observed that fathers typically have little familiarity with social service systems. They tend to experience the child welfare system as confusing and controlling. They want clarity and answers to questions about matters such as court outcomes that caseworkers are often unable to provide. They are more easily frustrated and resent having to jump through the 'hoops,' particularly if they were not living with the family and do not feel responsible for their children’s maltreatment."
So women are expected to just deal with all the crap and red tape the social service system throws at them without a single complaint, but men are excused from getting so frustrated that they just abandon their children altogether? Women never resent having to spend years filling out forms and never getting any answers just because we're women? WHAT THE FUCK? And the last sentence is the best one--Men "resent having to jump through the 'hoops,' particularly if they were not living with the family." So now abandoning your kids even BEFORE you had to deal with the system is okay, because it means you aren't responsible for the economic and emotional fallout of your abandonment???