By JAMAL FREDERICK
When women get their first look at a man, what's the one thing guaranteed to grab hold of her interest and intrigue? You would think it's the cologne, or the results that come from doing the perfect push-up with a little more frequency. I've even considered that it might be one of those metro-alpha male outfits the ones that appeal to a woman's feminine sensibilities, yet tells her, You know I can fix the toilet and mow the lawn. But I've finally come to understand that none of these things gets women to do that double take and smile and wink at me more than my girl. Specifically, my daughter.
Sure, you're probably thinking, Well, a cute little girl will always get attention. But really, it's not so much about how cute my daughter is as it is about the fact that she's holding her father's hand. Apparently, the sight of a father paying attention to, caring for, spending time with, and publicly expressing his love for his children is a complete turn-on. And worthy of the benefit of the doubt from most women, save for the occasional high-powered businesswoman who thinks a man with a child will somehow hinder her progression. The ladies who give me the flirty side eye when I'm out and about with my daughter don't know if I'm a screw up, irresponsible, abusive, broke, unemployed, uneducated, prone to strange fetishes or wearing dirty clothes, if I just got out of jail, about to go to jail, seeing my daughter for the first time in three months or if I even want to be there, if I have bad feetyou get the point.
There seems to be this assumption that the simple fact that my daughter and I exist says I'm somewhat responsible. A catch. They just see a dad and his cute daughter smiling and shopping, or eating or going to the park. With no back story, I'm automatically elevated to good enough to approach/start a conversation status. It doesn't matter if my daughter and I are put together that day or if we look like a hodgepodge of sweatpants and time mismanagement. It doesn't matter if daddy can't do hair as good as mommy; just the fact that I tried gets me points. Wow!
Of course, this is the polar opposite of what all-too-many think about women walking with their children. The assumption is that she's single, raising her kids alone and with lots of baby drama that she carries on her back a distasteful assortment of other financial, academic and social stigma. Like everything wrong or bad associated with single parenthood is her fault. In this context, the children are dehumanized taken out of a personal context and reduced to nothing more than the byproduct of some bad decision. I doubt Nathaniel Hawthorne had this level of public scrutiny and ostracism in mind when he wrote The Scarlet Letter.
It's ironic that the absence of fathers from their children's lives creates both assumptions. Absentee fathers force mothers to be the catch-all visual of single parenthood and particularly all the ills that come with it poverty, joblessness, poor education, crime, insert your societal problem here. No one really bothers to consider how the lack of financial, physical, mental and emotional support from fathers plays into those problems; we just continue to pretend like single mothers somehow caused their single parenthood that they are to blame. And, since the men are generally portrayed as absent, when society in general and women in particular see fathers present and involved in their children's lives, they are looked at as something good, something special. The mothers wear Hester Prynne's scarlet letter; the fathers sport a brilliant golden medal.
Let me just put it on out there: This is not fair. I know this and you know this. And I wish the stereotyping of mothers be they single or not would stop and people would judge each of us on our own individual merits. Our own pitfalls. Our own stories. This double standard also makes me think about what a good woman who's had a history with disappointing men would want in a man, what would make them happy. It seems it may be as simple as honesty, sincerity anda little effort. Not that hard fellas just try.
But as a father who loves being a daddy to his child, I gladly take the smiles and the flirting and the compliments from strangers because what the admirers are seeing and responding to is a genuine love between my daughter and me. That's something to smile about.
Jamal Frederick writes poetry and music and contributes reviews to AboveGroundMagazine.com. He also is married and the proud father of a three-year-old daughter. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalfrederick.
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.
- Web |
- More Posts
Jamal, thank you for saying what I have always thought ” people should judge each of us on our own individual merits”. We live in a very judgemental society and everyone is not the same; however they are grouped as if they were. When I see fathers with their children, I often smile and keep moving. The thoughts that run through my head are “that is nice” and “my baby will never experience that”. It is sad for me, but genuinely opening and enjoyable for me to see children and fathers bonding!
Continue being their and enjoying everything that your daughter has to teach you! Blessing Unto You and Yours!
As a MARRIED father of TWO little girls, I ain’t even gonna come on here and front like I don’t appreciate the attention, especially from the sistahs, when I am out an about with both my girls. And yes, it sucks when sistahs don’t get the same appreciation if they are out with their kids.
But, MORE images of brothas actively raising their children must be seen. It just has to be seen. I can’t really explain the reason why. We just have to do it…and be genuine aboout it.
To add, it’s the right thing to say that we should be judged on our individual merits. But personally, I don’t think we as a people afford that luxury. So every time I leave the house, every word that comes out of my mouth, I make sure it’s representative of US, and not just me.
Well said. It really is unfair that men walking with their children get a gold medal and women get a scarlet letter. I know this first-hand as I always seem to get the side eye when I’m with my son, especially because I look like I’m about 17 years old. Seems that folks automatically assume “That poor girl made a bad choice and now we have to deal with her ‘mistake’.” Sigh. And sometimes, the comments that I get are even worse. I try to respond with grace because I know that my response represents our people, but truly that’s a huge burden that no one should have to carry.
This article is so beautiful and on point. First, let me say that I think the relationship you have with your daughter is beautiful – absolutely beautiful. The appreciation you hold for her and being her father is something no child should be without…from either parent. So she is truly blessed.
It has always amazed me the way that people – particularly women, gawk, oohhh, and aahhh, over a man that is spending time with his child. It SHOULD be that way. I’ve seen on the way to campus, a man gets on the bus with his baby in the stroller and women go crazy and talk about how wonderful it is that he’s taking care of his child. However, when it’s us that are taking care of the kid(s), it doesn’t garner the same reaction. In fact, it’s an automatic “Baby Momma” title affixed to it, and whatever other perceived notions they want to attach to it. Sad, but true.
My brother is like you, and takes very good care of his daughter. I mean exceptional. Like you, he sees it as his responsibility to do so and while he accepts all the compliments and stares, he still maintains that “it’s my job to love, cherish, and nurture, my little girl”. I tell him all the time how proud of him I am – and the fact that he can part a scalp better than any woman I’ve seen, doesn’t hurt LOL!
I’m happy knowing that there are men out there who feel appreciation for women the way you both do. Fortunate for both of your daughters, they will know unconditional love from a man without having to seek it in all the WRONG places later on.
Nice article cousin. Keep up the good work!!
Great article Jamal! Thank you for speaking the truth! Keep up the good work!
This was a very insightful and true post. You captured not only what is obvious, but what is not so obvious. Your ending, pretty much says it all–“judge each of us on our own individual merits. Our own pitfalls. Our own stories. This double standard also makes me think about what a good woman whos had a history with disappointing men would want in a man, what would make them happy. It seems it may be as simple as honesty, sincerity andâ€¦a little effort. Not that hard fellasâ€”just try.”…And there it is 🙂
Love your style, real and true. I’m liking this post to my FB. By the way, love that shot of you and your daughter 😉