The Sexism That Accompanies Single Fatherhood

Rebecca Eckler September 19, 2016

Why do people assume that all men are perverts?

Recently, my 12-year-old daughter was invited to a sleepover party. Fun, right? Along with the start of the school year comes the start of the sleepover season.

Except, apparently, a lot of mothers didn’t feel so comfortable with this sleepover party, based on the texts that I was (very) unfortunately added to in a group chat.

Why did these moms have their knickers in a knot? Because it was happening on a Saturday night, at a divorced Dad’s house, on his weekend with his kids.

All the women in this group wanted to ‘meet the Daddy’ before they felt completely comfortable sending their daughters to one their friend’s parent’s homes for a birthday sleepover celebration. Really, was there anything to discuss?

I didn’t want anything to do with this conversation, because these women, I believe, were unfairly judging men and making unjust assumptions.

While I know a handful of my daughter’s friends’ mothers, I certainly do not know all, or even most, of them, and I send her off to sleepovers with mother’s I’ve never met, talked to, or even seen, aside from a quick wave hello. Why wouldn’t I feel the same when it came to a single dad I’ve never met? Or for that matter, a child who has two dads?

Why would I deny my daughter the fun of a sleepover at a home of a single dad? I don’t deny my daughter the experience of sleepovers at homes of single moms I’ve never sat down and had a coffee with.

Still in disbelief that these women thought gender mattered in this scenario, I started scouring the internet to see how other mothers felt about their daughters sleeping over at the homes of single dads.

One commenter on a site wrote, ‘Personally, I believe in the philosophy to be ‘better safe than sorry’, particularly on this issue. I would rather deny my daughter the experience at a stranger’s house, then to allow her to go and deeply regret that decision later.’

Sigh. So, pretty much, this woman assumes that penis = pedophile? Or would she also deny her daughter sleeping at a single mom’s house, because ‘better safe than sorry!’

Another comment disgusted me: ‘Personally, and if I’m being totally honest here, if one of my daughters were invited to the home of a single dad for a sleepover without a female present, I would find an excuse to not allow her to go. Until I get to know a man, even the father of one of my daughter’s friends, I have to admit that I proceed with caution when it comes to my daughters.’

So, the rest of us, who allow our daughters to sleep at divorced dad’s house must be throwing all caution to the wind then? Please.

The best? A so-called ‘expert’ weighed in, with what I believe is the stupidest f***ing bit of advice I have ever read. They wrote, ‘Call and say, ‘I’m sorry, and this is about me and not you, but I just don’t feel comfortable with a man supervising an overnighter. Offer to host the girls at your place instead, if you can, or ask to turn the sleepover into a ‘late-over,’ where your daughter stays only till bedtime.’ Yeah, because NOTHING could ever happen during a ‘late-over,’ or even an afternoon playdate for that matter.

Not all mothers are disturbed by the idea of their daughters sleeping at a single dad’s house. Most women seem to want to just meet these dads before they’ll allow their child in their homes for a sleepover. I can wrap my head around this. But do all mothers know every single mother who hosts a sleepover party?

In fact, I believe that single dads who host sleepover parties tend to put more effort into it and go out of their way just to make the girls and parents feel as comfortable as possible.

After all, if you’ve ever hosted a sleepover for a bunch of 12-year-old girls, you know that it pretty much consists of a bunch of screaming girls running around the house keeping you up all night. Why would that be different at Dad’s than at Mom’s?

My children have a lot of friends with divorced parents. (Who doesn’t?) Just as I would not even think twice about sending my daughter to a friend’s sleepover at a divorced, single, or two-dad household, I wouldn’t think twice about sending my young son for a sleepover at a divorced, single, or two-mom household.

Straight up? The behaviour of these ladies was completely sexist. But what really kills me is that while you may think you are ‘protecting’ your child from a divorced, single, or gay man, you know who you’re hurting the most? The child who just wants to celebrate their birthday.

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