I quickly became a fan of Andrea Grimes after discovering her on Twitter. She’s a Texas-based feminist and her writing is scathing and hilarious. She’s taken her state representative to task for suggesting there are alternatives to Planned Parenthood in her area (she called around; there weren’t). Her latest target is sports blogger Richie Whitt, who lambasted Texas Rangers pitcher Colby Lewis for missing a game for — are you ready? — the birth of his second child. According to Whitt, “It’s just, I dunno, weird. Wrong even.”
Lewis took advantage of MLB’s paternity leave, which I was surprised but pleased to learn even exists, although it seems the policy is fairly recent. But the news here shouldn’t be he attended the birth of his child (his second daughter, according to Grimes). The news should be he’s the first one to take the leave.
You should really read her take on it, because she does a much better job than I could of detailing Whitt’s ridiculousness: Dallas sports columnist displeased with pitcher’s decision to do a totally normal thing. As she says in part:
But we need to go a step further and call out Whitt for using his shock-jock personality to perpetuate a system of toxic masculinity wherein men are only real dudes if they don’t do too much of that being-a-human-being shit, like trying to physically and emotionally support their families, witness once-in-a-lifetime moments and demonstrate that there’s more to life than a paycheck.
… So it’s really very simple: by choosing his family over his job, Colby Lewis is not performing masculinity properly, and that scares the shit out of people who have invested their entire careers, even their whole identities, in reinforcing said masculinity. What do I mean when I say a super studly professional athlete is not performing masculinity properly? I mean this: Colby Lewis’ act of choosing to be at the birth of his kid rather than starting as pitcher in a major league baseball game is a direct and public challenge to the patriarchal norm which dictates that women will be the ones to make career sacrifices, full stop.
I hadn’t heard of Lewis before reading Grimes’ post, but I’m awfully fond of him already. And I think his two daughters are very lucky, because my guess is Lewis is an excellent father. I hope other players follow his example and choose to put their families over their careers once in a while. Because not only is it not fair to expect women to do the majority of child rearing, it’s not fair to expect men to miss out on the large and small moments of their children’s lives. I’m the last one to say we should pity professional athletes for the sacrifices they have to make, because they are amply compensated for what they do. But if you think about it, they are expected to miss their kids’ first steps, first words, birthdays, recitals, soccer games and parent-teacher conferences. Birth is the one event it is acceptable to be present for, and now they’re being criticized even for that.