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Jordan Shapiro on Embracing Feminism in Fatherhood

From Audio: #96: Jordan Shapiro on How To Be a Feminist Dad

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station description We're telling the stories of modern dads that are redefining what it means to be a ... read more
The Modern Dads Podcast
Duration: 05:47
Jordan Shapiro, author of "Father Figure," discusses how redefining and embracing feminism helped him to become a more well-rounded father.
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Jordan Shapiro, author of "Father Figure," discusses how redefining and embracing feminism helped him to become a more well-rounded father.
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that I think people think feminism means man hater. You know, as I as I say to my my kids sometimes when they say, but I read on the internet that feminists want to cancel men. And I go, well, I know, I know a lot of feminists I actually know a lot of the most famous feminists in the world. Never heard any of them say they want to cancel men. So, you know, maybe there's a couple of crazy people out there, but but I don't know, I I don't know them. And I mean it's basically a propaganda campaign. I don't think there's like a secret battle room where someone came up with the message, but it is basically a propaganda campaign to disempower the fight for gender. So I kind of think no matter what words you use, you you'd get it. Part of the reason I put the word feminist so big and so so powerful on the cover of this book was because I said, you know, it's about time for men who are fine with it to just go, yeah, I'm a feminist. I'll wear a t shirt, I'll talk about it all the time. I don't care anymore. There may be so, as I said, there may be some really outlandish feminists who have this idea, like we need to ruin all men and it's a power struggle for women to become more powerful than men. But those are those are the outliers. And there's always gonna be outliers in any movement. The truth is, we're looking for a sense of equality. We're looking to end exploitation, oppression. Subjugation that's based on sexism or on gender stereotypes or on a systemic gender conventions. Is your definition, then of a feminist dad? How do you have to put those words to get you? Good dad. We have feminist dad. You put those. Yeah, that's a great, that's a great question. Um, so, I mean, the whole book is about in some ways defining what that what that is and and really the better word. And it would be it would be to say pro feminist dad. I think because it means your, you know, your dad, that's pro feminism, but I'm writing a mainstream book and I don't think the word pro in front of feminist would make it more palatable, I think would make it more confusing, you know, for me, a feminist data and I have four principles that I let the whole books designed around and I can go through them for you. One is a commitment to I use the term critical consciousness, which I borrowed from the educator Paulo Ferrari. And um this is the idea that you're willing to interrogate the systems in which you participate and see your role in them and see how they define your identity, your aspirations. The way you think about possibilities, the way you think about who you are, you know, all these things. We we all live within systems that define our way of thinking about ourselves and others and and critical consciousness means you're willing to interrogate those all the time. I also would say if Emma's dad prioritizes teaching Children to have critical consciousness and to develop critical consciousness, that's number one, Number two is what I call a responsive bothering, which really could just be responsive parenting. But you know, it's a book about father. So I use the term father ring. Responsive bothering means what it sounds like you are responsive, right? You respond rather than dictate you your your ideas to respond to the situation around you. So many of us as dad see it as our right to sort of define the story of all the people in our lives. That's sort of part of what's built into the traditional fatherhood. It's like man of the house. It's my it's my house and everybody else is a sort of supplemental character in my superhero narrative. Um, and to respond means you acknowledge that it's not, you know, that everybody else is also the hero of their own superhero narrative and you have to respond to their hero, which means you might be the villain, you might be the mentor you, who knows what you are at any given moment, but you have to respond with an acknowledgment of of of who you are to your kids, into your family at that moment. The third one is a willingness to confront what I call locker room gender essential is um, I call it locker room gender essential is um, part because I wanted to hint at this, you know, the donald trump, it's locker room talk thing, but also because as I went through all these things that we believe are essential truths about what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman. I realized I learned so many of them in the locker room in middle school and they were so crazy. It was like, you know, some would just be like, oh girls were horny and they like such and I'd be like, you know, I believed it. Then some of these things I didn't even realize until much later. But these are these sort of juvenile concepts of of of gender difference that shape so much of our lives in crazy ways and we need to fight those and we need to confront them. We need to make sure we don't demonstrate them for our kids. And sometimes that, you know, that could be in terms of changing the roles of who does what around the house. That's a simple way to start to fight gender existentialism, right? So just from the beginning, hey, I don't believe women are better at laundry. Right. Right. Right. Because at some level there is a part of us that because we've gotten so much of this, but I kind of think they're better at it because they like to make the nests right, which is not. There is no evidence to show this is true. I don't think anyone likes doing laundry, right. Um, and and and the last one, the last qualifier or or principle of what it means to be a feminist dad is what I call rigorous inclusivity. And what I mean by that is just recognizing that everybody deserves the right to live a life of dignity and that that's where we take this beyond just the question of of cis gender prejudice or cis gender oppression. And we realized that, you know, we should be against transphobic oppression, we should be against racial oppression. You know, I don't care whether you like people and the decisions they make about their lives. That's not I'm not saying you have to like anyone. I'm just saying you everyone has a right to live a life of dignity and we need to be committed to not getting in the way of that and preserving that for everyone. You know, everyone gets to live a life in dignity, in their in their own way.
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