Submitted to the New York Times, December 26, 2000

 

To the editor:

 

It’s truly a shame that Cameron Stracher is afraid of equality. He ("Why

Father’s 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. Stracher’s piece. He assumes that it is his decision, rather than his

wife’s, that she return to work outside of the home. And he concludes with

a not-so-subtle, we’ve 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

women.

 

Unfortunately, they need to work hard to find that support, and thinking

like that of Mr. Stracher, makes it that much more difficult.

 

Sincerely,

Andy Mager