No Disney princesses allowed in Daddyland

I copied this off a Facebook feed. The original has almost 7,000 comments and 34,460 “likes.”



The comments I read were pretty skeptical actually.  Especially from women who grew up idolizing these princesses and said they turned out all right.

I guess I see it this way.  Disney princesses are a bad influence.  But they are only one influence.  So even if you are princess-crazed, you could easily turn out to be a strong, independent woman.

But, still, you could smoke all your life and not get cancer.  Why risk it?

It’s all about patriarchy …

We are not immune either.  My daughter is princess-crazed, though we try – along with a lot of Swedes – to subvert it into something strong and adventurous.

Still, no Disney movies for a long while.


“You’ll have to explain why you don’t spend time with your child.”

A very cool Radio Sweden story on changing notions of masculinity and a rise in paternity leave.  It is made all the cooler because I met the reporter, Gabe Stein, a former dad blogger, on paternity leave and we have playdates with our kids.

I can’t get the sound file to embed properly in the post, so here is the link to the story.

And here is the blurb:

Swedish men are taking out more paternity leave days than ever before. Experts say the development is having a major impact on the nature of the Swedish family.
“To be a father is now part of the masculinity in Sweden,” says Ann-Zofie Duvander, associate professor of Sociology at the University of Stockholm. “If you’re a man and you have a child, you’ll have to explain why you don’t spend time with your child.”

Paternity days now account for more than a quarter of the parental leave days taken out, according to the Swedish Social Insurance Agency. The agency predicts that if the pace continues, men and women will share parental leave equally by 2035.

It’s nice when the world catches up with you. I wasn’t hearing this stuff even here in Sweden when I started this blog.  And I noticed last week how many dads were home with sick kids.

It’s all good.

Monday links – Europe works, the US tax code does not, and thank goodness for subsidized preschool

Going to try something – just links I’ve liked over the past week or two.  It’s everything I would put on Facebook if I did much on Facebook or if anybody who comes here saw my Facebook page.

Why Is Europe a Dirty Word?  – This column from Nicholas Kristoff in the New York Times is superficial but important because it recognizes all the ways that Europe works, in contrast to important ways the US does not.  I think most Americans would be surprised to learn how many people see the US as a sort of failed state.

Behind Every Great Woman – BusinessWeek wrote a cover story about the men who stay at home to support their successful wives.  The problem?  It’s about role reversal, not equality.  A very small step.

Homemaker Dad, Breadwinner Mom – In a blog entry at the New York Times, Nancy Folbre takes on my point above.   And she gets into detail about something my wife figured out the first time we did our taxes in the US.  The system is so biased towards a stay-at-home parent that it makes almost no sense for many spouses – men or women – to work.  In Sweden, of course, both spouses have to work, which is another kind of pressure, but at least a more fair one.  Why not support child care activities and others tax breaks that would allow everyone to go to work – while preserving choice – instead of penalizing mostly women who often do go back to work but for what comes out to insulting wages?

Pre-K Converts – Which brings me to this post from DadWagon, in which Nathan Thornburgh talks about the sad state, and ridiculous cost, of pre-K education in New York City, but also the whole US.   Excuse me while I go metaphorically kiss the stable, competitive, yet secure Swedish welfare state.


Signs that gender equality got off track sometime about 1980

This is a book that my parents read to me when I was a kid.  Now on a visit, I am reading it to my kid.

You read the first half about a dad out with his son, and then you flip it over and read about a mom out with her daughter.  They meet in the living room in the middle.

And you know what strikes me, besides the cool gimmick?  That the Dad is equal to the Mom.  Not just in having half a book, but in the tone and substance of the book.  He comforts his son when he gets hurt, helps him deal with fears and just in general was competent to deal with the average weekend outing.

And the mom?  She is basically the same, not scared of lions at the zoo and that sort of thing.

If a book like this came out today, I would praise it for being so forward thinking on gender stereotypes.

Then I just read a post at Dadding, the fatherhood blog at Babble, on LEGO advertising and how the toys used to be for boys and girls but somehow became only for boys.

And I think about how in Sweden the girls toys are getting pinker and girlier, without even any of the middle ground that American girls get (clothes and attitudes are still different there, yes).

Some pretty sad backsliding.

My horizontal journey from Croatia to #OWS to Daddyland

We are in northern California for a month, and it is hard after the Swedish winter to do anything but stare at the sun and sea on days like this:

Today, on the other hand, was nothing but fog.  So maybe that is why I had the energy tonight to pass on a link.

In the middle of Occupy Wall Street, my friend Chris wrote an article for Somatosphere on the People’s Mic.

This got me to thinking about my own brief but intense time in the world of anarchy-inspired consensus decision making.  And I wrote an essay that finally appeared in The Morning News.

Here is the top:

There was power in the circle, or maybe it is better to say there were powerful people around the circle. Ostensibly equals, we sat on the patchy grass in the Czech countryside in 1996, surrounded by teepees and with the hellish flames of coal plants flickering on the horizon.

Except I was new, had staggered in at midnight after a three-hour hike and a six-hour train trip and had slept under my jacket under a table my head against someone’s knee, and I was heartbroken, and I really did not care about Ecotopia, this tidy festival in what had been an 800-year-old village whose residents had been driven out in the early 1990s by rapacious coal companies.

The morning meeting was supposed to take half an hour. But we blew past 30 minutes before the first point was even defined, much less decided upon. This was pure consensus—the ultimate in horizontal decision making—so everyone had to agree, and it was a large circle, maybe 50 to 60 people, and you try getting even like-minded environmental activists to come to that kind of consensus quickly.

You can read the rest here.

Is Pappa Magazine too metrosexual even for Sweden?

So in Daddyland, there is now a men’s magazine aimed at dads.  It is called Pappa.

There was some fuss over the retouched cover – seriously, the guy looks nothing like this.  And I read some comments that even in sensitive Sweden, there may not be a market for a magazine with articles about pregnancy sex, fashion for kids and … cars.

Yet it is what I’ve thought of doing for years.  And in a way too metrosexual way, it is what people keep trying in the states, at least online.

But I just can’t build up a desire to read it.  This is sad.  But maybe even in touch dads just want to stick with sports and adventure and politics …


The subtle shifts of Daddyland on a stormy trip to Oslo

I went to Oslo and back on Friday during our first winter storm of the season.  As I got delayed and ran for trains and waited in endless lines, I thought about how much my time in Daddyland has changed the way I worked.

First, I traveled to Oslo and back on the same day, leaving little to no margin for error (hence the running for the train).  I left as the kids ate breakfast and returned to put them to sleep.

Second, I had no wanderlust or sense of relief.  Of course, it was Oslo on a wet dark December day, not, say, Bali.  But still, I only went on the trip because it really, truly will make the story I am writing better. That is the best judge of business travel, one that gets lost otherwise.

Third, I really liked my subject, and I got the idea I could have spent more time with him.  We were talking big, important ideas, and he was talking about how committed he was to them.  It was a little tempting to get caught up in that visionary world for a night at least.  And then I ran for the train.

And when I came home, I felt this rush of relief, that I was home in our tiny space with the little Christmas tree and two giggling children in their bedroom waiting.  This is where I wanted to be, not just home, but home and putting the kids to bed and then getting up with them at 5 the next morning for a long session of obsessive crafting.

I think that was maybe the most crucial point.  Lots of Dads try not to travel so much.  Lots of Dads don’t like business trips.  I just feel more grounded in the home than I would have without my 18 months on paternity leave.

And I think it helps the story too.  I spent the weekend pondering the interview as I made oatmeal or did beads with my son or exercised while they watched a little Blues Clues.  I don’t get that kind of time on the road, and that semi-occupied downtime is key to my creativity at least.

Of course, now it is Sunday night, and I got out of the apartment for all of two hours this dreary weekend.  And, yes, going to the office will be kind of nice …