Brent, we can’t all be enlightened all of the time…

brent's harangue against stay at home dadsFellow stay-at-home Dad Brent Brookhouse over at The Good Men Project site shared his upset over a Facebook at-home dad community and how it’s left him with a perception that SAHD’s are chauvinistic pigs and need to aim for a higher level of consciousness. Your best place to start is to go read what he wrote: What led me to abandon my stay-at-home dad community, sloppy and overgeneralized quotes like “a group of fathers who railed against the stereotyping of men, while marginalizing and harassing women” and all.

Part of me wanted to just dismiss what he says with a snarky “sorry we’re not good enough for you”, but here’s what bugs me: I also see the same traits with some of the at-home dad communities I’m involved with. There is a grain of truth to what Brent is saying and there are a subset of guys in these groups who come across as being sexist, crude and even somewhat misogynistic.

What Brent’s missing is that venting, the metaphoric “letting off steam”, is a critical need for all human mental health and while some people, I assume, can do so through deep meditation or daily communion with nature, others find that someone to commiserate with is far better and more satisfying. The tougher things are, the more we need someone to share our challenges, whether it’s for some tips on how to deal with it (the “fix it” approach that us males are so famous for offering) or simply someone commiserating with us about how, yes, it’s hard. Sometimes a cigar, an hour at the batting cage, a high-intensity workout at the gym (my drug of choice) or a hug is all you need to keep moving forward in your life.

Life as a parent isn’t easy, and life when you’re bucking a lot of cultural and global stereotypes is doubly stressful. It’s hard enough for families when women decide to stay at home with their children — since the mantra of the last 30 years is “you can have it all” to women, leaving them all guilty, either guilty that they’re at home, not working, or guilty that they’re working not taking care of their children full time — but if you’re in the minority of families where it’s the dad who stays home, for whatever reason, it’s crazy difficult. Where’s their masculinity? How can the woman be so selfish as to work while dad’s stuck at home? What’s it going to do to those poor children? And one that I have experienced again and again as a super involved single dad: the suspicious looks from the moms who are baffled that you’re at kindergarten pickup or the playground with the little ones and the hostile glares from the working dads who are convinced you’re that dangerous, “sensitive” superdad from down the street who has designs on their wife while they’re out earning a living.

It’s tough to be a stay-at-home Dad, and some of the guys have it incredibly hard, so difficult that I can’t even imagine what their life is like. No car, no time off when the mom gets home, little ones that are in their high-need phase, and even that classic 50’s archetype of a spouse who comes home from a long day at work and doesn’t want to know how it’s going, doesn’t care about what happened that day, and sure as heck is in no mood for a “quickie” while the kids are down for a nap.

And so enter Brent into this difficult, stressful world of SAHD where the only place some of these guys have to vent is the Facebook group. Sure they say stupid things, and sure there’s sexism and misogynistic remarks but even a moment’s thought would reveal that it really doesn’t mean anything. If these guys really felt this way, would they be home nurturing their little ones and taking care of the household while their wives were out working? Of course not.

I am empathetic towards the Stay-At-Home Dads, even when I don’t entirely agree with the discussion, and sure, there are things I just ignore or skip. But I have empathy towards my fellow dads. Not judgment. And as for Brent, well, sir, I hope you can find a suitably enlightened community of men who support you in your at-home dad experiences and help you be a happier, better person. Clearly you’re still on that quest. Good luck.

11 comments on “Brent, we can’t all be enlightened all of the time…

  1. Well said…I love your approach. There were some well stated points left out of the original article. thank you for sharing.

  2. I appreciate your thoughts Dave. I have at times questioned where another SAHD is coming from with a comment. I remember the thread which Brent took offense. I can understand his feelings. It serves as a reminder for me to be mindful of what I post and what comments I make. Thanks for putting a human face on this unfortunate series of events.

  3. We live in Thin Skin Nation, and sadly too many people are in a rush to be offended and to strike back later. It’s like we hear a celebrity say something that could be inappropriate or cruel and we’re quick to condemn. Yet we don’t know them or what’s in their hearts — and that’s far more telling and important.

  4. Great article man. I just wish the Facebook group had not been so submissive to one person’s tantrum and changed its “policy” to contradict its original “policy”. I fear even posting or commenting on any threads in the group after seeing that someone is likely to screenshot and write up an article elsewhere and have the admins of the group apologize to the perpetrator and give me the boot as if I was in the wrong. I mean, they basically just took their pants off and bent over for Brent.

  5. Yeah. He just linked this article to his twitter and called out my previous comment in a hyperbolic fashion. Careful what you say dads. This guy is a sensationalizing tool just waiting to find something to write about that favors himself.

    • Nobody said that was venting Dave. The author of this article was clear that he wasn’t a fan of the post. I’m assuming that you found your way here through Brent’s social media links judging by your comment sounding like those of his own responses.

      If Brent can’t find humility in what he did wrong (not contacting admins about the issue he had but rather leaving the group and writing up an article with blanket statements as well as posting screenshots from a closed group that’s rule was to NOT do something like that) then I’m afraid this sort of thing will just happen again for him as it appears to have already happened in the past. People that never even seen the babysitter post and are not misogynistic whatsoever are leaving the group out of fear that someone like Brent will take their posts or even pictures of their families or something and use it for an article. I would know, I’m one of the five that I have witnessed leave the group since this whole debacle came about.

      Shame on you Brookhouse.

      • And Matt T, thanks for your contributions. I agree that one of the most egregious parts of what Brent did was his generalizations. I’m in the group in question too, I don’t recall ever seeing the photo and post, and I know that the admin took down the entire thread once it came to his attention (so it’s not there any more). So do we measure a group based on a small subset who were saying dumb things or do we actually demonstrate our apparent enlightenment and recognize that a) they aren’t necessarily representative and b) this behavior also might well not be representative of the individuals in question either?

        • I’m glad there are more people out there that see the truth behind it. I’m no longer a part of the group, but if you would like I have a couple posts pasted below from their twitters. One is from Brent and the other is the “Executive Editor” at the goodman project (the lady that stepped up to blindly/falsely defend him).

          joanna schroeder ‏@iproposethis 3h
          Imagine, a guy calls out sexual hrssmt & the Internet supports whistleblower instead of the privacy of the creep #imagineafeministinternet

          Brent Brookhouse ‏@brentbrookhouse 19h
          A guy who is very upset that the group updated their rules to not take creepy photos of your babysitter and post them for creepy dudes

          Brent’s was referring to me from this website and couldn’t have been more misleading from what I have actually posted on this page. Joanna just went full on blanket statement after apologizing about doing such a thing on the GMP thread. This was just 3 hours ago, so she’s just at it again.

    • I don’t condone the actions of the group, Dave P, and there is a creepiness to a guy surreptitiously taking – and posting – photos of his babysitter. But other guys leaving stupid, sexist comments? Yeah, to some extent that is just venting, in the same way that guys looking at the cover of the latest Sports Illustrated “swimsuit” edition might comment on the physical attributes of the models, not the photoshop techniques used to make them look so perfect or the fact that we live in a society where that sort of “porn lite” is acceptable to sell at a supermarket, even as it has a pretty clear message that it’s completely acceptable for guys to view women as eye candy. As I said in the title of this piece, we don’t live in a perfect world and a sense of humor goes a long, long way to making things move more smoothly. Even enlightened women check out men and even enlightened men check out women. And comment on it. Not the end of the world.

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