Why is it so difficult to believe single men can have paternal instincts too?

The widespread mockery and suspicion of Gaetz’s relationship with Nestor isn’t just due to the congressman’s personality, however; it reflects sexist assumptions about parenthood. If Gaetz had been a woman, I doubt people would have questioned his relationship to Nestor quite so much. Women are expected to have strong maternal instincts – but we barely talk about paternal instincts. Women are expected to adore children, but society is automatically suspicious of a man who is fond of kids. A woman smiling at small children in the street? Totally natural. A man smiling at small children in the street? Call the police!

Gaetz will never understand what it’s like to be a black man in America. However, he now has the opportunity to help people – not least his fellow Republicans –understand that “family” comes in many forms and that a single man is more than capable of having paternal instincts and being a good dad. Parenthood is supposed to change people; let’s hope publicly acknowledging Nestor changes Gaetz for the better.