As a man who has been the primary caregiver to my children for over six years (I don't like to say stay-at-home dad, but, well: yeah), I have spent years collecting propaganda images of fathers burdened by their children created during the women's suffrage movement. Here we see one of the "worst possible outcomes" of giving women equality, and I love the idea of my lifestyle horrifying an entire generation of selfish, boneheaded jerks.
Okay, that one is officially my new facebook profile picture. Note the bucket.
Even the great Honoré Damier got in on the action:
What I love about this propaganda is the idea that these men are supposed to be emasculated or feminized by attending to their children (which I may joke about sometimes, but hardly believe). A hundred years after these images were published, when I was interviewed by that New York Times reporter last summer, the conversation turned (as it always does) to the "but don't you feel emasculated" BS, and I got pretty riled up and started talking about how I get to do so many more "manly" things now than I ever did when I was working in an office. I really think that's true. Few people ever talk about the (rightful) emasculation of the American office environment, in the sense that as more and more women get high-paying, high-power jobs in corporate America, finance, medicine, law, etc., there is no longer anything really all that masculine about sitting around on your ass in an office all day staring at a computer screen and yapping into a speaker phone. Why, you can't even sexually harass a secretary like they do on Mad Men without putting your corporation at a risk for a huge financial hit! In fact, women have proven to be so great and effective working in traditional male office jobs that it seems like maybe those jobs were never all that "manly" to begin with. Whatever I am now, I take care of my kids' every need and do the laundry AND I spend most of my days in the fresh air out of doors. I've learned to work wood and leather, fix bikes and build wagons and toys, grow food for our table, and even make a fair bit of money writing and taking photos. I don't know if that makes me any more or less masculine than if I'd stayed in my career, but it sure as hell makes me feel more human than when I was spending 60 hours a week parked in my Aeron chair 28-stories above an outrageously expensive city I was too busy to really experience. So, as the living personification of all those turn-of-the-century fears, I wish I could whisper in the artists' ears: Chill, y'all. It's actually not that bad.
(I would, however, also verify that mustache and beard-pulling is definitely an occupational hazard)