Wednesday, October 11, 2017

"As a father..."

In her Coming2Terms blog, Pamela used to play a game where she'd take the phrase "as a mom" or "as a parent" from articles she'd read (and there was no lack of examples to be found...!), and then change them to read "as an infertile" -- often with hilarious results. Of course, once you start playing the game, you quickly realize how often the reference to parenthood pops up -- and how ridiculous it often sounds, when you really stop to think about it.  

I was reminded of this today when I found this article by Emily Peck in Huffington Post about the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault scandal, and specifically the number of men who have rushed to denounce him and his behaviour -- often prefacing their remarks with the qualifier phrase "as a father/grandfather/husband..."  

"The implication behind these kinds of statements is that women are only worthy of basic respect in relation to men,"  Peck points out.

Surely we don't have to be parents (or grandparents, or spouses) to find this sort of behaviour abhorrent. Surely we should be able to empathize and relate to others simply because they're fellow human beings who deserve to be treated with kindness and respect -- not because of their personal relationship to us.  

Says Peck: 
Of course, having children is extremely meaningful. And, yes, some parents feel a heightened urge to guard their offspring that also leads them to feel heightened empathy for other kids. At least, that’s been the case for me personally. And the truth is, for men, having a daughter can be somewhat transformative. 
But that’s simply not a prerequisite for feeling empathy for victims of sexual assault.
(Or just feeling empathy for others, period.)  

1 comment:

  1. Oh, yes. I need to play that game now... but it really irks me when putting "as a mother" or "as a father" in front of something that is just about "as a decent human being" makes it somehow more worthy. Ugh. The whole point of empathy is that anyone can do it -- it's the feeling for someone else, being able to envision what it would feel like to go through whatever it is. Parenthood is not a prerequisite.