Crucial Minutia
it's the little things...
Courtney E. Martin
Composing a Life: Dudes and Babies
5 Comments | posted April 03rd, 2007 at 09:39 am by Courtney E. Martin

So I’m sitting on the train, headed God knows where, and a guy with Fu Manchu facial hair and a track suit wheels his fat-cheeked baby son on to the 5 train. He sits next to another guy—this one Asian-American and all suited up, pink tie, baby blue button-up. Fu Manchu tries to put his baby’s Timberland boots back on his tiny little feet and the Suit says, “Don’t you hate how those always fall off?”

“Yeah man.”

“You can get these little boots with velcro, so they don’t fall off, and the sole is softer so the baby can really feel his feet on the ground. That’s good for ‘em.”

“Cool man, where do you get those?”

I honestly thought I was going to cry. Not because this is unusual. I’m sure there are dads of different stripes trading parenting tips all over the globe, but I rarely witness it in such unabashed, matter-of-fact form.


It made me reflect on how much has really changed from the time my father was that age and being interested in parenting was seen as slightly weird if it went beyond playing catch and intimidating your daughter’s suitors. Today there are men of all kinds of backgrounds and careers who are prioritizing and really enjoying being fathers.

I’ve written about this before, and caught some flack. Older feminists tell me that I’m being overly optimistic about the next generation of young men. They insist that the second a guy gets a financial opportunity it blinds him to his family loyalties.

I just don’t buy that. I look at my guy friends, my boyfriend, my cousin, my brother, and I believe in the possibility of a world where fathers get to enjoy their children as much as mothers historically have and mothers get to lead more balanced, autonomous lives. Why the hell not?

This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007 at 9:39 am and is filed under Gender, Career/Life. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

There are currently 5 responses

  1. Yes! Yes! I am a huge idealist when it comes to this, and perhaps it is because I have not yet had children, but dammit, if I’m not going to be an idealist now, when will I be?

    I absolutely believe that there is a shift happening. It may not happen all at once. Neither the men nor the women of our generation are perfect. But there is a change in the air.

    April 3rd, 2007 | 11:35 am
  2. I hear that

    Damn straight! And since when do we pooh - pooh optimism?

    April 3rd, 2007 | 2:18 pm
  3. Yes! I’m proud to say that I know young fathers who are handling the role quite beautifully.

    April 4th, 2007 | 9:24 am
  4. Older feminists tell me that I’m being overly optimistic about the next generation of young men. They insist that the second a guy gets a financial opportunity it blinds him to his family loyalties.

    Really? Older feminists? Or older women who have been burnt by men? Disappointed in their husbands and the kind of fathers they turned out to be?

    I’m not sure it has anything to do with optimism. The roles of men and women are constantly changing. With women working more, earning more, sharing more responsibility, creating more partnerships, this shift makes sense and seems totally natural.

    Plus, I can’t get down with any feminism, old or new, that’s anti-men.

    Thanks for sharing the exchange. Heartbreaking.

    April 4th, 2007 | 1:01 pm
  5. Trudi Levine

    Okay…from an older feminist. I thought this was hysterical. Sure you didn’t happen upon an commercial shoot?

    Perhaps this is really an example of mens’ greater involvement in child rearing or perhaps it’s related to child-as-commodity, and everyone can now talk about the relative merits of a particular stroller brand($800 for a stroller!) to UGS for babies and designer clothing. Was the conversation about the chlld or about status and materialism?

    It may be that men are more involved, but I wouldn’t necessarily see this as an example of it.

    (I still think it’s funny….and would even had it been two women!)

    Sorry….I hope this doesn’t put me in the ranks of one of those cynical older feminists!;)

    April 7th, 2007 | 12:16 am

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