make-believe: non-toxic masculinity.

November 18, 2019

What sounds better than a fall afternoon spent hiking through fallen leaves, baking fresh bread, and sitting by the fire with a hot cup of espresso and a good book. For men—or anyone—here’s a little make-believe heavily influenced by my own espresso-sipping, bread-baking, partner-in-parenting husband.

A waffle-weave sweater for channeling fisherpeople.

All-weather boots for tromping around in.

Hemp socks for staying cozy.

Sturdy jeans for wearing (and eventually repairing).

A trio of beautiful flours.

A bread bag for freshly baked loaves.

A maple bowl for serving.

Greek olive oil for drizzling.

A walnut spoon for stirring.

Espresso for sipping (plus espresso cups and a handy scoop).

A calming balm for what ails you.

A copy of Burn It Down for better understanding.


Take action:

In an effort to ground all of this make-believing in something a bit more down to earth, here are a few very real places to direct our attention:

+ Ask your member of congress for paid family leave. The United States currently has no federal paid family leave policy, making it the only industrialized country absent a paid-leave policy on the national level. PL+US (Paid Leave for the United States) is on a mission to make paid family leave a reality in the US by 2022. Learn about the issues; sign the petitions; demand better.

+ Tune into #MenCareLive this week. MenCare is an international non-profit with a mission to “promote men’s involvement as equitable, nonviolent fathers and caregivers in order to achieve family well-being, gender equality, and better health for mothers, fathers, and children.” To achieve that mission, they call on men to “be allies in supporting women’s social and economic equality, in part by taking on more responsibility for childcare and domestic work.” Their global meeting is taking place this week, November 19-21.

+ Take the Pledge for Paternity Leave. Less than 1 in 5 men in the United States are offered paid parental leave and worse, many dads who are offered leave don’t take it. Dove is pledging $1 million dollars to fund parental leave for fathers and earlier this year they launched a simple Paternity Leave Pledge that might be a nice starting point for raising awareness and offering funds to dads in need.

+ Nominate a woman to run: When women run for office, they get elected. She Should Run is a nonpartisan non-profit promoting leadership and encouraging women from all walks of life to run for political office.

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  • Reply Christie November 18, 2019 at 1:51 pm

    Love this, Erin! The lack of parental leave is horrible. As a lawyer, I had to suffer through three too short leaves, although luckily I could bring my kids with me to my own office (although that also had issues with not being able to focus as much as I would have liked). As an owner of my own business/practice, it has been a focus of mine to provide parental leave to my staff. It costs me a lot of money and it is hard because it means several months of extra work for me to fill in the gaps. But I also know how much it sucks to go back to work a week after having a baby, and I don’t wish that on anyone. All parents should have those early months to cuddle and bond with their babies and recover from the strain of having a newborn. I wish our government would provide this, so the thousands of dollars didn’t come out of my own pocket. But until then, I am happy to do my small part.

  • Reply C November 18, 2019 at 2:07 pm

    My state, WA, now has paid (mostly) family leave but it is still just a paltry 3 months. While this is better than nothing, and I’m proud of my state for voting this way, it’s just not enough. It does account for both maternity and paternity leave as well as addressing leave for family sickness etc.

  • Reply Emily November 18, 2019 at 6:05 pm

    Thanks for this!

  • Reply Ally November 19, 2019 at 7:11 am

    Hi! Great post. Big Birch Bark Coffee fan over here and I just want to advocate! I have heard their founder Mark speak in Ottawa and he has been an incredible leader in the Canadian social enterprise space as well as Indigenous led business. I buy their coffee often because its AMAZING, but I also think that as a consumer of coffee, every purchase is an opportunity for me to indicate my support and practice what I preach.

  • Reply Caitlin November 22, 2019 at 4:34 pm

    I think lack of paternity/partner leave negatively affects women’s health so much more than people realize. Maternity leave is also important, but I think we can fight for both together. The point of maternity leave is to heal and bond with a child, but it is difficult to heal if there is no one to help take care of you and let you rest. Paternity/partner leave also lets that parent bond with the child, continue to know the day-to-day care regimen (which sets things up for a better return to work for the birth parent, as they are not shouldering all of the childcare in addition to returning to work), as well as help take care of the healing birth parent and avoid their social isolation, which can be a huge problem when caring for a newborn and contribute to postpartum depression.

    It’s just anecdotal and a very small sample, but among myself and my friends, those of us who were lucky enough to have partners with paternity/partner leave seem to have a better leave themselves and an easier return to work.

    And a huge resounding YES for paid federal family leave for everyone–everyone has some sort of family, and people they would like to care for, and a situation (usually several) that require it at some point in their lives.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE November 22, 2019 at 5:34 pm

      Agreed! (That’s why I wrote this post )

  • Reply steph November 22, 2019 at 10:58 pm

    love the action steps. just visited my niece this weekend and oh my gosh i don’t know how single parents do it… it takes an army!

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