From Non-Existence to Reluctant Inclusion. Fathers in Writings on Care

Tuesday, 12 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 41 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Ingolfur GISLASON, University of Iceland, Iceland
One of the central areas of western gendered division of labour is the care-taking of young children. Even though much has changed radically in the social situation of men and women in the Nordic countries in the last decades and the strive for gender equality is a generally accepted political issue, the division of labour regarding care for young children is still a hotly debated topic. In this paper I want to present the results of a study of books and periodicals published in Iceland in the 20th and 21st centuries that were devoted to instructing (potential) parents on how best to care for their new-born babies. Regarding the role of the father, three periods can be detected. Right up to the sixties, the father is almost completely absent, he is hardly mentioned. Starting in the sixties and seventies he enters the scene as a (clumsy) helper to the mother. In the nineties we enter a new period where the father becomes more of an independent actor and the tendency is to portray the parents as equal. Still, books are published portraying to address “parents” but where it is fairly obvious, not least in the pictures, that parent really means “mother”.