You know that mothers' group you belong to, the one you go to every few weeks to talk to other moms about your shared experiences, to gripe about postpartum recovery, or to swap breastfeeding tips? Now, imagine among this circle of women, there was a man. Yes, he's a dad, likely going through the same troubles with sleep training as everyone else in the room, but does he belong there? Do you want to have him listening in when you talk about bleeding nipples and vaginal discharge?
A San Francisco-based stay-at-home dad recently applied to join a local mothers' group but was rejected because he was a man. Haran Yaffe, who runs a start-up business at home while caring for his daughter, told NBC that the Burlingame Mothers' Club explained via email that he wasn't admitted because "the group is for mothers" only.
Yaffe took issue with the fact that he not only experienced discrimination for his gender but for his sexual orientation as well. "If your wife wants to join, she's welcome," the email stated. "Unless you are in a same-sex relationship with a child, then we'd be happy to accept you."
After he shared his story with the press and complained about his treatment for being a heterosexual man, the moms' group apologized and changed their stance — he was now welcome to join.
Yes, by and large, discrimination is wrong, but now that he has been admitted, we wonder how helpful this moms' group will be for the majority of its members. In such settings, inclusiveness is extremely important — and perhaps why the Burlingame club allowed gay men, who might feel more comfortable in a women's group — but when it's acceptance for its own sake, is it doing anyone any good? Could this dad have found a co-ed support group or a stay-at-home dads' club to join instead? Or should we all learn to see not what separates us but to focus on the fact that we all are parents collectively trying to raise healthy, happy children?