The idea that men are hilariously incompetent at housework and not naturally inclined to like children is not an example of men being “oppressed”, it is a deliberate construction that exempts men from the hard, boring…
HOWEVER, the enforcement of gender stereotypes can easily lead to unexpected forms of oppression, and this includes gender stereotypes about men. For example, the stereotype that men are incompetent at and/or uninterested in child-rearing can result in child custody cases granting unequal time in favor of the mother. In divorce cases involving children, it’s almost automatically assumed that the father is leaving “his family” (including the kids), not just leaving his spouse, even if it is the woman who initiates the divorce. Men who ask to share 50/50 physical custody can be viewed with suspicion precisely because the sincerity of their desire to engage in the “hard, boring work of child-rearing” is questioned. Such a request may be treated as if it is a burden on the mother (who is assumed to suffer more emotionally from being separated from her children) and sometimes even harmful to the kids themselves (based solely on the stereotype that the father could not possibly be as competent at raising them as the mother, and the children could not possibly have as strong an emotional relationship with him).
I know of one example personally when a judge *told the father outright* in court that he "shouldn’t mind" seeing his children for significantly less time than his ex-wife and he would "just have to get used to it," even though the divorce was a no-fault mutual decision (because the mother wanted to be with another man), both parents had been granted 50/50 legal custody, and the kids in question had specifically asked for their time with their father not to be reduced. (When I say I know of this example personally, I mean I was present in the courtroom when this happened and it has directly impacted me and my family.)
An oppressive system that denies women the right to choose whether or not to have a child seeks to turn pregnancy and child-rearing into a punishment for having sex. To argue that men cannot possibly be oppressed by such a view because they are the ones being liberated from this “punishment” is to agree with and perpetuate an unjust system that harms both women and men. Having children should not be seen as a punishment, and becoming a parent should be a choice — men should not be denied that choice any more than women should be forced into it.
For a man to be denied time with his loved ones for the sole reason that he is assumed not to care about them as deeply as a woman would, is most definitely a form of oppression. When a legal system grants certain rights and privileges based solely on sex or gender, that system is oppressive. Period. While it is true that in the vast majority of cases, the stereotype of the distant/incompetent father favors men and oppresses women, there are times when the reverse is also true. Oppression is not a zero-sum game where the victims and the benefactors are always distinct and separate categories, or where only the group that is oppressed “the most” is counted. Oppression in any form is wrong. All victims of oppression and prejudice deserve to have their experiences acknowledged and not excused away as less meaningful or less real simply because they might be less common.
Last night, I had a horrible dream about being pursued by Hipster Zombies who — when they eventually broke into my barricaded hiding spot — decided it was “so retro” that I was still a living human, so instead of biting me, they just wanted to hang out and smoke cigarettes and listen to LPs.
I was like “Oh hell no” and threw myself out of a ten-story window to escape.