Welcome to The Pixel Project’s Voices Of Dads Against VAW blog interview series! This series takes our original 30 For 30 Father’s Day interview series to the next level by opening this interview platform all year round to dads worldwide with one (1) dad interview published per month.
We created this interview series:
- To acknowledge the vital role dads play in families, cultures and communities worldwide.
- To showcase men from different walks of life who are fabulous positive non-violent and non-sexist male role models.
- To provide dads worldwide a positive platform to share ideas about stopping sexism, misogyny, and violence against women and girls.
To date, over 150 dads have completed this simple yet thought-provoking interview. If you are a dad who is interested, you can fill in the interview form here.
For our July 2020 interview, meet Dr Kyle Ashlee from the USA. Besides speaking with us here, he also took part in the third panel session in our Fathers For Pixels 2020 YouTube Livestream Panel series – “Empowering Daughters: Raising Girls Without Sexism”. This series was held in collaboration with MenChallenging and Fathering Together.
Picture courtesy of Kyle Ashlee.
The Dad Bio:
Kyle C. Ashlee, Ph.D., is a writer, educator, and stay-at-home dad located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His received his doctorate of Educational Leadership in 2019 after working in higher education for over a decade. His research interests include fatherhood, college men and masculinities, and critical whiteness studies in higher education. He has authored several peer-reviewed journals, book chapters, and an award-winning book.
1. What is the best thing about being a Dad?
In my experience, the best part about being a dad is the way that parenthood turns your life upside-down, in the best way possible.
Before I was a dad, I cared mostly about my career and my personal goals. Now, I realise that there is so much more to life than meetings, deadlines, and emails. Don’t get me wrong, careers are very important. But for me, nothing compares to spending time with my daughter and watching her grow up. She teaches me to slow down and appreciate the little things in life. She shows me how I can be a better person, mostly by becoming more patient and understanding. She has taught me how to play and have fun. She is my greatest teacher.
2. A dad is usually the first male role model in a person’s life and fathers do have a significant impact on their sons’ attitude towards women and girls. How has your father (or father figure) influenced the way you see and treat women and girls?
Personally, I have a very complicated relationship with my father. He and my mother got divorced when I was young and he wasn’t always the best role model in regards to his attitude towards women. That said, my dad was always very gentle and loving with me. He always gave me hugs and kisses, and he always told me he loved me.
This sensitivity and openness to love had a big impact on me and the way I understood masculinity growing up because it showed me that I didn’t have to avoid my emotions. My dad’s willingness to love me openly made me feel like I could openly love others, which I think has a lot to do with how I think about masculinity today.
I also think my mom played a big role in how I think about gender. As a single mom, she raise me and my brothers while working multiple jobs. She was always there for us and always made sure we were taken care of. I always say that my mom helped me to become the man I am today. She role-modelled for me and my brothers what a strong, independent woman looks like. In many ways, she challenged traditional ideas about femininity, which had a big impact on my attitude about women and girls.
3. Communities and activists worldwide are starting to recognise that violence against women is not a “women’s issue” but a human rights issue and that men play a role in stopping the violence. How do you think fathers and other male role models can help get young men and boys to take an interest in and step up to help prevent and stop violence against women?
Assuming that violence against women is a “women’s issue” allows men to continue ignoring the ways that living in a world with violence is harmful to everyone, including men. Some people refer to this as the idea of “Toxic Masculinity” or the ways that traditional ideas of masculinity cause men to engage in behaviour that is harmful to themselves and others.
Paternity leave is a great example of this. There is a popular movement to push for paternity leave. I always laugh about this because the only reason men don’t have paternity leave in the first place is because we live in a world men are expected to bring home the bacon and women are expected to raise children. In recent years, men have begun to realise that they want to play a part in raising their children. But, because we men have built a world where the raising children is primarily seen as women’s work, we now how to fight against the system that we created because we’ve realised that it isn’t good for us.
I don’t like the term “Toxic Masculinity” because it assumes that there are “good men” and “bad men”. This dualistic way of thinking only perpetuates the problem because it continues to divide us. The reality is, all men are socialised in a culture of patriarchy and male dominance. If men are going to engage in feminist movements, we need to first understand how feminist outcomes are good for women, and for men.