I'm talking about baby showers (and, for that matter, "bridal" showers). Astri von Arbin Ahlander, one of a dynamic duo of Gen-Y writers for True/Slant's thought-provoking Work.Life blog, rants this week about why in the world we still insist on throwing these events for women only...and including only women on the guest list.
I love Astri's argument, so I'll just paste it in here as she tells it:
"If we're all going to at least play along with the contemporary idea of equal parenting (whether this actually happens or not is another question), then a man's life is going to change a great deal with the coming of baby too. If we expect men these days to change diapers and give baths, why do we arrange a party where the mother is the sole recipient of the diapers and the rubber duckies?"
She goes on to conclude:
"Why do I insist so on ruining the pink party? For two reasons. First of all, a baby shower thrown for a mother-to-be and attended almost exclusively by women sets the tone for who is really going to be changing those diapers and giving those baths: the mother. Hmm…so much for equal parenting. Secondly, isn't it kind of unfair to start a new-dad-to-be's parenthood path by suggesting his role in the matter isn't worth celebrating? You devoted dads are worth sticking up for."
I'm right with ya, Astri. If we aim to create an equal partnership in parenting, we should begin that way whenever possible. In our case, the guest list for our own baby shower was traditionally female, but Marc and I attended together and opened the gifts and thanked the givers together. And I've loved throwing baby showers for my male colleagues as they await their first children.
Let's take this one more step while we're at it...let's think of our baby's birth (the actual birth itself) as the moment both partners become parents. Sure, we women are doing the work and experiencing - in the first person - something extraordinary. But that isn't the only thing going on. The minute we hear that first amazing wail, two parents have crossed a threshold - together.