We Shouldn’t Be Praising Men for Doing the Bare Minimum

We Shouldn’t Be Praising Men for Doing the Bare Minimum

Women have so many behavioral expectations placed upon them.

From day one, a woman is raised being told that she must act a certain way and be in charge of certain tasks, such as being a caretaker, maintaining a home and household, and of course acting feminine. Because women are expected to do these things, they do not receive recognition for any of it. A woman cooks dinner for her family? Well, obviously! The woman stays at home to cook! A woman does everyone’s laundry? Yeah, well isn’t that her job?

It’s the “j” word–job–that becomes the root of the problem. The connotation of the word suggests a natural order. A job is something that somebody must do otherwise there will be consequences. If doing typical motherly things becomes a woman’s job, then it is her responsibility, and if it’s working, why change it?

On the contrary, while a woman remains under the radar for doing what is expected of her, if a man performs any of these tasks, he is automatically praised. If a man offers to do the dishes after dinner, it’s a big deal because he’s being generous and offering to give the woman a break from her job for the night. If he goes to the crying baby in the middle of the night, he is the star father taking the initiative.

This may seem like a far-fetched, exaggerated perspective. After all, gender equality has improved significantly from the past, and people like to think that there are no road blocks stopping people from crossing previously barricaded “gendered behaviors.” Even writing this feels terribly archaic, because there are female CEOs and stay-at-home fathers, yet it still feels like something we should applaud, instead of accepting as the norm.

Last month the Internet went crazy for a single father in Florida who learned to braid his daughter’s hair then taught other fathers at his school. He called it “the Daddy Daughter Hair Factory.” Sweet sentiment. Wrong approach.

A single dad with short hair may not know how to braid. But if he has a daughter with long hair, he should assume that it is required. Mothers are not praised for braiding their daughter’s hair, even though women do not come out of the womb knowing how to braid. There are several women with short hair who still style their daughters’ hair because a woman is expected to know everything related to beauty. Additionally, mothers also take care of their sons’ interests without getting praise. Where are the articles praising the countless, unnamed single mothers who toss the ball back and forth with their sons the night before the big game?

This double standard opens up so many bigger issues. Shouldn’t a single father take some sort of offense? It seems society expects him to be a lesser parent. They praise him for helping his daughter get ready for school. It’s crazy. Or does this just feel normal to us all now? For many, being a single mother is criticized as though it were some kind of punishment. Meanwhile, a single father is seen as some kind of martyr. Why are men being praised for stepping up to the plate to bat when they are being paid to play baseball?

Cover image courtesy of  Getty Images