Last month, Dad 2.020DC ThreeNote speaker and Slate contributor Dan Kois wrote “America Is A Sham,” outlining proscriptions and penalties that have been miraculously withdrawn for the coronavirus quarantine. If the TSA can waive its ban on large bottles of liquid on planes, for example, what purpose does that ban really serve?
To his long list of expendables, we want to add gender inequality. It’s pointless and punitive, and dads have the chance to use this pandemic to accelerate its trip into the past tense.
If history is any guide, women will bear much of the shorter-term burden while we’re all still stuck in our homes. Most schools are closed indefinitely, and outside help is not an option, so couples will have to decide how to absorb constant childcare into their daily schedules. And in heterosexual couples, that responsibility still falls mostly to Mom. This could be economically devastating, since 71% of households with kids rely on women’s income in order to function.
As tempting as it is to draw comparisons to the 2008 “Mancession,” the real historical watershed for gender role disruption in the family was World War II, simply because its widespread impact led to irrevocable change. Every family needs to confront the quarantine chaos as best it can, and that means dads need to participate in household labor like never before. It’s all hands on deck, all the time, and every day the overwhelming imperative is to address challenges as they come.
Essentially, we’re in an indefinite period of forced paternity leave, and a new Northwestern University study predicts “it is still highly likely that we will observe a sizeable impact of this forced experiment on social norms, and ultimately on gender equality, in the future.”
In a perverse way, this pandemic has given us the chance to unplug the economy and reboot it with new software. And the willingness of dads to step up and factor this experience into our post-pandemic lives will decide whether this reboot accelerates gender equality or sets it back decades.
IN THE NEWS
It’s impossible to helicopter parent during a residential quarantine. So don’t bother trying.
The authors of “Lost and Found” call for a new paradigm for dads who can’t pay child support, “one that makes room for compassion and empathy, not just punishment and blame.”
For excellent reasons, the viral video of the father/daughter team singing “You’ve Got A Friend In Me” is enjoying a renaissance.
What would you do if someone else’s kid told you “I only play baseball so my dad will like me“?
Military families know their lives can change rapidly, and there’s no such thing as “normal.” This affords military kids a resilience anyone could benefit from.
If you’re destined to commute by Zoom over the next several weeks, why not convince your colleagues you live in Wakanda?
For dads, memes have suddenly risen to a new importance as a way to stave off existential dread.
“My kids [videoconferenced] last night with a few of their friends and talked and laughed for hours. It was just what they, and their friends, needed.” — Mickey Farmer, Help Kids Outdistance Social Distancing: Have A Virtual Sleepover
“I’m sorry they have to learn so soon how little we control, but I will make sure to teach them what we do control: our reactions to any situation.” — Eric Boyette, Parenting Through A Global Pandemic
“My mind drew a direct line from her unexplained bouts of chest pain and my dad’s asthma to a ventilator in a hospital. What if they got sick, and I wasn’t there?” — Catherine Thompson, I Was Writing This Coronavirus Essay When I Learned My Dad Went To The Hospital
‘GRAM OF THE WEEK
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