FATHERING IS A FEMINIST ISSUE
Louise B. Silverstein 1
1 Yeshiva University
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Louise B. Silverstein, Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, 1300 Morris Park Avenue, Bronx, NY 10461.
Copyright 1996 Human Sciences Press
Feminist theory has not yet addressed the ways in which the ideology of fatherhood has contributed to interlocking inequalities for women in both the workplace and family life. This paper is an effort to inject a feminist voice into the redefinition of fathering, which I see as essential both to the achievement of equality for women and to the reconstruction of the masculine gender role. I begin by describing how our unconscious gender ideology pressures all families to become traditional patriarchal families. I address feminist concerns about the dangers of over-valuing fathers’contributions to child development. I review the research evidence on whether fathers have the same potential for nurturing as mothers, and examine gay fathering in particular. Finally, I suggest that redefining fathering to emphasize nurturing as well as providing will place attachment and connection at the center of gender socialization for men. Masculinity would then become much less oppressive for men as well as for women.
First draft received: June 6, 1995 Final draft received: August 22, 1995