Our monthly article for this month is a contribution by Autumn Willems, TCFV’s Project Connect Prevention Researcher.

In her article titled “Between Two F-Words: Fathering and Feminism,” Andrea Doucet discusses the sometimes-tumultuous relationship between feminism and fathering, and how the gendered challenges that both men and women face are an important aspect to consider when thinking about men’s roles in society and in the family.

View the full article here. 

She argues that involving men in the more “mothering” aspects of parenting would radically change the gender roles that currently exist, and would challenge the narrowly framed picture of fatherhood as it is now—that of a breadwinner and authoritative figure with reduced obligations to care for children. She brings up an interesting point to consider—when mothers leave their children, they are seen as villains to society, and are judged with a harshness and severity that is often impossible to combat or defend, even if they return. However, when men leave their families, it is often viewed as a regrettable yet ordinary event, and should he return, he is often praised for coming back—caring for children is still seen as a choice for most men, not an obligation. This is just one example of how men and women remain judged, treated and viewed differently as parents—something that continues to perpetuate gender roles and inequality.

Are feminism and fathering irreconcilable? This article not only argues that they are interconnected, but that broadening the framework of fatherhood and getting men more involved in caring for their children will dramatically transform gender roles and support women’s advocacy—and these are crucial steps to a world without violence and gender inequality.

There are of course many different possible make-ups of familial structures, but thinking about men’s roles in their families provides us with a space to reflect on gendered challenges that both men and women face, and how these challenges relate to power dynamics and violence. What are some ways to connect fatherhood and traditional men’s roles with systems of violence and power? Can a focus on fatherhood create an opportunity for men to engage with and reflect on issues of IPV? Can it serve as a vehicle for prevention?