For example, during discussions in class and on the blog the class has talked about emotional labor. Looking at my own relationship with a cis-gendered heterosexual man I did not observe that one of us did more of the chores, planning, or worrying. Could this be because growing up I only saw my father worry about whether my permission slips were getting signed and that I was doing my homework? Or could it be because I did not grow up with a hetero-sexual couple that had been socialized in a culture that expects women to take on the brunt of the emotional labor?
I also observed the possible influence of having a single-father during the class discussion of cultural feminism. During class the students put adjectives under "feminine" and "masculine" that they believed were often associated with the two ideas. Almost all the adjectives under "feminine" were things that I associated with my father - he was creative, forward thinking, and not single minded. Many of the adjectives and stereotypes that were placed under the feminine column were descriptions associated with raising children and taking care of the home, which is probably symptomatic of the fact that women are seen as being responsible for the sphere of domesticity in our society. While my father may have exhibited these traits even if my mother was alive, his position of being a single-father may have also forced him to.
To see whether my interpretation that growing up with a single-father impacted my view on gender roles was something shared by others, I took some time to research whether there was a link between single-fathers and feminism. My brief search turned up mostly information on how feminism has treated fathering in general, not single fathers specifically. In "Between Two F-Words: Fathering and Feminism", Andrea Dorcet explains how different strands of feminism have taken multiple approaches to fathering. On one end of the spectrum radical feminism sees women's interests as separate from men (thus may not include the interests of fathering), while some feminist strands view fathering as important to feminism, especially in the context of the work-family balance for couples. Single fathers do no apply to the context of helping work-family balance in a heterosexual couple in that by definition they do not have a relationship to bring that balance to. However, I believe single fathers can be part of feminism when they teach their daughters or sons that a man can do as much as a woman when it comes to taking care of the family and home, and thus should be expected to do so.
While the different strands of feminism may disagree about what role men and fathering play in the feminist movement I can say that having a single-father has personally had an influence on my own feminism and outlook on the world. So thank you dad, for showing me that fathers can braid hair, do the laundry, and cook a delicious dinner all in the same day. Thank you for showing me a man can have a job and run a household. And of course, thank you for always unabashedly buying me tampons at the supermarket when I was too embarrassed to buy them myself.