Fathering + Feminism = Oil + Water?

Despite progress, a gender difference in parenting remains: men and women are judged, treated, and viewed differently as parents.

As a counterpoint to Jeremy Adam Smith’s piece, “Five Questions for Profeminist Fathers,” we wanted to take a look back at Andrea Doucet’s piece, “MRAs and Feminism: Finding a Space for Fathers” (posted in April 2011 as a response to a debate here at the Good Men Project). Andrea makes the argument that feminism and fatherhood are a complicated mix. On the one hand, she has sustained a two-decade long commitment to melding feminist theory/activism with pro-fathering research; on the other hand, she notes that this combination can be challenged when feminists debate with some fathers’ rights groups.

In spite of this difficult terrain, Andrea argues that fathering and feminism are still good companions. She shares the two-fold strategy that has enabled her to keep these two “F- words” at the center of her work. 

Here’s an excerpt from Andrea’s piece:

One of the first things you notice when entering a heated conversation between MRAs (including some fathers’ rights groups) and feminist scholars is that the two sides cannot seem to see eye to eye on anything.

A perfect example of such competing worlds is found in the exchange between Amanda Marcotte (a feminist contributor in the debate) and Dan Moore (also known as “Factory,” of the MRAs). For Marcotte, the MRAs are “wrong about pretty much everything”; more to the point: “They’re so wrong about everything, they’re wrong even when they’re right.”

For the MRAs on the other hand, Dan Moore offers, “Why Do MRAs Hate Feminists So Much? In a nutshell, because nearly everything they say is a lie.”

So both sides are lying. And both sides are wrong.

Who is to be believed?

My view is that it depends on which epistemic community one joins on any given issue; although there are significant internal differences within each group, fathers’ rights activists and feminists can act as different epistemic communities on strongly contested issues.

Check out Andrea’s full post here.

Photo by Neal./Flickr

About Andrea Doucet

Andrea Doucet is Professor of Sociology at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada and the author of the award-winning book, Do Men Mother?. She is the Editor of the international journal Fathering and is writing a book on breadwinning moms and their male partners (tentatively) titled The Bread and Roses Project: Breadwinning Moms, Caregiving Dads and a New “Problem with No Name”. Andrea has been married for 25 years to the same good man (who makes her laugh almost every day) and they have shared the parenting of three daughters (ages 21, and 17 year-old twins). Find Andrea on Twitter.


  1. If feminism has a problem with fatherhood then that is sufficient evidence the social theory is deeply flawed. Equality can stand on it’s own without a ideology committed to promoting the interest of one gender over the other. I doubt Ms. Magazine would even consider pushing a debate that talks about motherhood being bad for sons.

  2. Feminism & Fatherhood go hand in hand. Let’s examine the definition of feminism – equality for both genders & eradicating limitations based on gender, for both men & women. To me, that means throwing out the stereotype men can’t be nurturing wonderful parents and it also means women are not expected to be subservient to outdated stereotypes of male entitlement. In real life, I don’t know anyone who ISN’T a feminist, men & women included! If you are not a feminist, you are supporting gender prejudice, which I can’t imagine anyone would willingly do.

    In my very limited experience, father’s rights groups are angry, blame casting people who usually are beyond upset they don’t have as much contact w/ their kids as they’d like. For some reason, they think feminists, not judges, are to blame for this. Amanda Marcotte, as has been stated, isn’t known for her truth telling. I don’t believe either of these people have the sterling character to discuss this – they both have anger and agendas.


    • If you are not a feminist, you are supporting gender prejudice, which I can’t imagine anyone would willingly do.
      Irony. You just did it.

      In your rush to make that declaration (and I know that declaration makes feminists feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside) you just left out a lot people who don’t support gender prejudice and are also not feminist. Yes I know the prevailing belief is that feminism has a monopoly on good moral value and gender equality but it doesn’t. Its entirely possible to work towards breaking down gender prejudices without being feminist. I’ve been doing it for quite a while actually and I know I’m not the only one.

    • The vast majority of American women claim that they are not feminists, and even a greater percentage of men. Many feminists and feminist groups are anti-male, which includes fathers.

  3. If we’re just talking about Dan Moore and Amanda Marcotte then I think we are looking at one good example of why people think feminism and fatherhood seemingly can’t mix. Neither side really wants to listen to the other. Instead there are people (often the most vocal ones) on both sides that want to totally shut the other side out of the conversation so they can dominate it and ultimately make the changes that they want, other side be damned.

  4. A good example of Marcotte willfully publishing lies can be found here – http://i.imgur.com/aob5k.jpg

  5. Well Amanda Marcotte has a track record of publishing outrageous lies seemingly without shame, and Dan Moore doesn’t.
    Feminism is visibly against shared parenting and reproductive rights reform and routinely makes broad false allegations of abuse against men that advocate for father rights.

    So one group is obviously much more credible than the other.

Speak Your Mind