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In a relatable Twitter post, author Catherynne Valente complained about an incident which occurred when she was going through airport security.
After she explained to airport staff that she had just given birth, Valente was asked where her baby was. “Why do people always ask this?,” she complained.
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Speaking to Yahoo UK, Valente said: “It’s inherently a sexist question.
“I’m a woman, I have an infant, therefore there must be something wrong if the kid is not surgically attached to me.
“If a man shared that he’d just become a father, no one would say Oh my God where is the baby They’d just say congratulations and move on, most likely assuming the baby is with its mother.”
After assuming the security agent assumed I was pregnant, I told her no, but I had just had a baby. She asked where the baby was.
Why do people always ask this?
OH NO I LEFT HIM AT THE SHOP/SOLD HIM TO A FAIRY/PUNTED HIM INTO A VOLCANO
He’s with his dad? Jesus.
— Catherynne Valente (@catvalente) August 19, 2019
She added: “This was actually the first time I had ever been away from my baby for more than a few hours since his birth. I took a business trip and it was amazing for me to just be my own person again for a short time.
“But the question implies I’ve done something wrong—forgotten him or abandoned him or something, and certainly implies that an agent of the government has the right to know my childcare arrangements.
“Why not simply assume the child is with his father as you would assume a man without his baby left it with its mother? Because men are assumed not to be caretakers, and women are not assumed to be business travellers.”
Poking fun at the situation, some Twitter users responded with hilarious responses.
They suggested a series of absurd alibis Valente should give for the absence of her baby, including that he was sold to the circus or had caught an earlier flight.
I don’t have children but I assume it’s acceptable to shrug and say “fuck if I know”
— Dr Lauren M Robinson (@Laurenmrobin) August 20, 2019
I usually went with "I sold him to the circus/A wandering tribe of gibbons took him."
— Elizabeth Crow (@CrowElizabeth) August 19, 2019
I like to think I would only give ridiculous answers to this, in your shoes.
"Oh, he caught an earlier flight."
"He felt going for a long swim."
"He's in my checked luggage."
"Oh phew, you don't know either."
— Kindly Space Wizard (@KindlyWizard) August 19, 2019
Yet at the core of it, the tweets brought to light a frustration felt by many parents, where mothers are imagined to be the sole carer for a child, whereas fathers are only seen as “baby-sitting”.
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Users responded by complaining of the double standards applied to mothers and fathers.
“Oh, dad is babysitting? How nice!” No, jackass, dad is watching his child, not babysitting. It’s not nice, it’s the gig.
— Katie (@katienopppe) August 19, 2019
Women: once we have a child, they must be w us @ all times or we’re shamed for having a life
Men: get praise heaped upon them for not forgetting the kid @ metro station.
(Yes, not all dads, I know a lot of damn amazing work from home/stay @ home dads, this is a generalization)
— Marissa Turner (@marturner4) August 19, 2019
Discussing going on a hen wknd a couple of months after giving birth:
Friend: who‘d look after the baby?
Me: umm it’s Dad
Friend: he may not be too happy having to manage by himself for a wknd
Me: I wouldn’t be having his child if I was that concerned about his ability to parent!
— Jen (@jenmaho) August 20, 2019
Weird and ridiculous when anyone asks, but ESPECIALLY when friends who KNOW my kid has another parent ask. I'm flabbergasted EVERY time.
— ja i me (@crandleberries) August 19, 2019
A number of fathers weighed in to share their frustration at not being the assumed carer for their offspring.
As A full time stay at home working dad who raised two girls, I can feel the pain. "So where's mom?". Uh, she owns a company. Still the looks...
— j4ckl3 (@j4ckl3) August 19, 2019
I'm sure followed by "oh its so nice of him to babysit". My wife travels a lot for work and people sometimes seem shocked I stay home alone with my daughter like I am not capable of parenting on my own. I am her father not a babysitter.
— Ryan Medina (@RyanMedinaX) August 19, 2019
Earlier this year, a father was criticised heavily online after suggesting that baby formula should be paid for out of his wife’s budget.
In a now-deleted Reddit post, the man explained that the mother has stopped breastfeeding after six months and is now switching to formula as she “feels done” despite having “plenty of milk and everything”.
The divisive post reads, “I think if she wants to stop for basically no reason then the money for the formula should come out of her personal spending money because she is the one making the decision.” But after reading his question on the online forum, social media users were less than impressed.