Essay: An Ode to Men Like Jason Who Are ‘More Feminist Than Women Themselves’
By Roopa Swaminathan
I’m not emasculated by my wife’s success.
I woke up at 6:45am. When my wife became a bigshot CEO of her company, I quit my job and became a stay-at-home dad. I work hard to ease my wife’s stress levels at home. She came to bed at 2:30am last night because she sat up late with our fussy daughter, packed her lunch for school, and finished a presentation for work. So, I let her sleep in this morning. At 7:00am I slammed shut the fridge door because I know my wife will want me to wake her up. She rushed out and apologized profusely for being late. She quickly served me hot coffee, toast, bacon and scrambled eggs. I thanked her profusely. Then I told her that the toast was burned and that she forgot to serve butter. Always begin with a pat on the back. Then teach them how they can do better.
I don’t let gender roles limit my daughter’s personality
The nanny my wife hired called me all panicky during my post-lunch golf game session saying her husband was in some car accident and she couldn’t pick up my daughter from school. Irritated, I still took one for the team. My 8-year-old punches boys, hates Barbies and started on the new Legos set my wife bought her the second we got home. I clicked a pic of her and posted it on my Insta. 22 likes in under 5 minutes!
Yeah! Maddy playing with Legos!
Why we need more men like Jason raising our daughters!
Two hours of painstaking concentration and my kid was almost done with the Hillary Clinton Lego. (HRC! #MyIdol. I walked with my women at the Women’s March in DC). I realized my little girl needed her daddy to get her to the finish line. I took the HRC model from her but she snatched it right back and said she ‘doesn’t need a man’s help.’ Upset, I chided her gently, “Lighten up, Maddy.” She rolled her eyes, “You’re so sexist, dad!” Wow! I bet she learned that from her mother! I retorted, “I’m actually a humanist, Maddy. Don’t overreact and stop getting hysterical.” I then took HRC and threw her against the wall and smashed her to pieces. You know? To teach my daughter a lesson.
I support my sister in all her choices
My sister was thrilled she got into the Rhode Island School of Design. But as a feminist I wanted her to blaze a trail for women instead and join the Army (I HATE violence and the military, Jason) or prove the uber sexist men in the STEM club wrong and become an engineer like me (I can barely add 2+2, Jason). Going to art school was too easy, too female. “Jase? Why are you forcing me to do something I don’t want to, don’t like, and am not very good at?” She implored distraughtly. I said, “So you can show the world that women can do whatever they want, Soph!”
I speak up for and protect women
My ex-boss Martin asked me for ‘a monster favor.’ I got to accompany young Emma on her first solo pitch meeting. I got into protector mode since the client was a sleazebag who made inappropriate physical advances on women and talked over them. Before this 5’1” bombshell with an hour-glass figure got all spunky I interjected, “Em. I’ll handle Rob.” I squeezed her teeny-little waist and marched past her and said loudly, “Hey Rob! This little fire-cracker is with me. Don’t mess with her!” We guffawed and I winked at a speechless Emma who stared at me through teary eyes and shook her head furiously. I’m sure she was filled with gratitude which I acknowledged and patted her gently on her head and said, “I see you, Emma. I got you.”
I worship my first feminist role model — my mother
My mom was 35 when she became a loving single mom to 2 kids and a successful businesswoman in construction when dad died. Despite my busy schedule, I pitch in and help her. After reading a WhatsApp forward (an article from the Wall Street Journal) I called her in a panic. Mom said she was meeting a young couple who were building a modest 3-bedroom home. I shook my head and said, “Mom! I just read that Covid has really hit the construction business. And you need to diversify into service work, learn new skills, and balance big public projects with building smaller homes if you want to avoid going bankrupt.” Mom replied, “Jase, I know and that’s why I’m meeting…” I continued, “Mom. Listen, OK? I know you’ve won the Best Business Person Award multiple times, but this shit’s no joke and you need to pay attention to this article I’m sending you now, OK?” A few quiet seconds later she said, “I forwarded the article to you yesterday, Jase. And I wrote that article for the WSJ.”
Roopa Swaminathan has a regular weekly opinion column on Elephant Journal. Her fiction is published on Eksentrika, Kitaab, Women’s Web, Free Flash Fiction etc. and her humor is published on Slackjaw, Frazzled, Greener Pastures Magazine and more.