Submitted to the New York Times, December 26, 2000
To the editor:
Its truly a shame that Cameron Stracher is afraid of equality. He ("Why
Fathers Work", Dec. 26) starts to go in a positive direction: "We [fathers]
will demand extended paid parental leave, better playgrounds, universal
daycare." Fathers and mothers, as well as anyone else concerned about human
dignity should join together to challenge our nation to live out our
commitment "family values."
In addition to his suggestions, I would add: universal medical coverage,
flexible work arrangements, increased and fair funding for public schools
and support for at-home parenting. By any reasonable measure, we are the
developed nation with the strongest rhetorical commitment and weakest
on-the-ground support for families.
Of greater concern to me, however, is the male chauvinism which seeps out of
Mr. Strachers piece. He assumes that it is his decision, rather than his
wifes, that she return to work outside of the home. And he concludes with
a not-so-subtle, weve got to get them out of the workplaces and back at
home line. Rather than joining the powerful American tradition of people
coming together to struggle for basic human rights, he reverts to
individualism and good old patriarchal thinking.
In my work with men who are violent and abusive to their women partners I
emphasize that the alternative to domestic violence is a relationship built
on equality and respect. I ask them to consider all the ways that our
culture supports their sense of male privilege and entitlement. I help
them to understand that domestic violence will continue to haunt women and
our society until we eradicate the oppression of women. I encourage them to
seek out support for a different model of relationships between men and
Unfortunately, they need to work hard to find that support, and thinking
like that of Mr. Stracher, makes it that much more difficult.