By Alan Viau
The breaking down of barriers to men’s lockers rooms happened for women in 1975. Yet today we find that fathers are not given access to change rooms for their daughters. Equality in modern parenting has a way to go.
By Greenwood714 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Thirty eight years ago, when a young reporter for The New York Times was finally granted access to the athletes in a post-game locker room, it was a momentous day. The occasion was the 1975 N.H.L. All-Star Game in Montreal and, unexpectedly, two coaches said yes to the familiar request. Reporter Robin Herman had been trying for a year to convince N.H.L. teams to allow her and other female reporters the same post-game access to athletes as men were granted. When, at last, that permission was granted, a huge professional barrier was removed.
I was talking with my friend, Barb, a mom with two boys in hockey. She and other moms routinely help their pre-teen boys get into their hockey gear. They need the help. And there is no problem with their access to the locker room. She has the same rights as the fathers in helping her son get ready for the game.
Now let’s look at another friend, Warren. He is the model of the modern father. He is the primary caregiver for his two young daughters. He does anything for them. He is involved and engaged with them. They are his world.
Warren shows up at Centrepointe Theatre for his daughter’s dance recital. He is there to help her get ready. She has her costume to get on, her make-up and hair to do, like all the other young girls getting ready.
Yet he is rebuffed. He is told he cannot be in the change room with the girls because he is a man. Furthermore, he is instructed that the girl’s mom should have been here to look after her. Warren is directed to get his daughter ready in the public washroom.
How humiliating for the two of them. Both dad and daughter are denied the excitement shared by other girls and mums in experiencing a dance recital. Obviously, as a result of this unpleasantness, he and his daughter do not attend the dance school any longer.
It certainly smacks one’s sense of equality. The not so subtle message from the dance school is clear: dads are denied access because we are all perverted pedophiles. They don’t accept that dads can be caring, loving and competent with their daughters.
I was stunned when Warren recounted the story. It has been over 35 years since women were allowed into men’s locker rooms. Since this time I thought that as a modern society we had gotten better at equality, but I guess there is room for improvement.