If you’re a fan of Parks and Recreation, you know that Ron Swanson is a quiet, complex, lovable character. My husband is Ron Swanson. He likes to create and build things. He’s a wood-chopping, breakfast-loving man. But, he’s also sensitive and loves The Sound of Music. He’s the best man to raise both our daughter and son to be strong and confident.
He does our laundry, he LOVES to vacuum, and on Saturday mornings he’s a short order cook juggling French toast AND pancakes to please the conflicting tastes in Smith family members. He’s not afraid to wear pink, but he also loves a Saturday full of football. But those things don’t make him a feminist.
One morning our daughter got ready for school in a dress complete with all of the necessary accessories. She was adorable. I paraded her in front of dad and said, “Isn’t she pretty!? Daddy, tell her she’s pretty.” To which he replied, “Well, I do think she’s pretty but I don’t think her self-worth is tied to her beauty.”
March is Women’s History Month.
I’ve spent the past few years raising my fist and rallying friends and family around feminist topics like the #metoo movement, equal pay, and paid family leave. It wasn’t until I had a son in 2018 that I realized the best thing I can do for women right now is making the men in our lives feminists. In 2017, contributor Brianne Sanchez wrote about raising a feminist son, and that concept set the tone for the kind of mom I would like to be to a son.
I have seen a slight shift in the portrayal of masculinity in pop culture. Gillette recently tackled the topic of toxic masculinity in this ad and they were met with conflicting reactions from fans.
I recently re-watched the entire series of Home Improvement and was aghast at how much that show wouldn’t play today. By the end of the series, the character Tim Taylor was taking baby steps toward supporting his wife. Fast forward a couple of decades and you have Ron Swanson winning the Woman of the Year award.
Character Leslie Knope was upset when her colleague Ron Swanson was named Woman of the Year by the Indiana Organization of Women, which chose a man for marketing purposes. At first, I rolled my eyes at this concept and thought, “Of course.” But by the end of the show, the concept warmed up to me. We don’t need men to advance our issues, but we do need their support.
So, this Women’s History Month I invite you to not only celebrate other women but also thank the men in your life who support feminism. A core concept of feminism is to support women on the basis of the equality of sexes. We should parent our children with the same level of compassion regardless of their gender.