As many of you know, I have an unease about fatherhood. I don't know "how" to be a father. Many people close to me comment on how I am a good dad. Surprise! I am winging it! Making it up as I go. Reading through facebook posts today, I was struck by a particular post:
Ouch! That one hurt! Father's day does not get nearly the press or hype that Mother's day gets. Is it because of all the deadbeat dads? An unspoken difference in expectations from parents? I think there are many men that take care of their family and home and are also constantly criticized for it. What is being expected of men is rapidly changing, changing faster then the men can change. Maybe this is why I have such an unease in fatherhood... It is no longer sufficient to be a good provider, you need to cook, clean, take the kids... Who can do all that well? The poor economy and debt for everyone doesn't help either. Arguably the number of jobs that allow for one parent to work and the other to stay home are dwindling. Yes, we do need to have better equality in the job and homefront. But maybe better equality also means shifting the view of man as provider. I think this spoken word piece on TED sums it up nicely...
A few months back a good female friend of mine admitted to me that she seeks partners with a better ability to provide than her and that it is problematic because she has a high education level and a high income. When pressed about equality, she later admitted that it was problematic in that she still looks for the traditional provider type where the man makes more than her. Consequently, her pool of potential partners is small. I relate this to the female equivalent of men choosing them because of body type and the pressure women have to constantly look like they are 23, have the perfect body, big breasts, and everything else.
Where did this whole construct come from? Arguably neurobiology... We are wired to constantly be seeking sex. Thus, telling people they are not sexy and that they have to buy-do-consume something to get it back is great marketing. But it is not True. Further driving the separation of the sexes... Women be sexier, you can do it all, you don't need a village. Men be better providers, no take what you can when you can, and you will be rewarded with money, power, and access to the sexiest women.
The solution... More feminist men. The Atlantic has a great article on this one that got me thinking... We need a national dialog on this Battle of the Sexes. Men and Women getting together and discussing how we can have better lives together. Men we are failing. We are failing to nurture our daughters in ways that teach them that they are more then their looks and ability to advertise sexual cues to make money for a plethora of companies. We are failing to nurture our sons, to teach them that being a man does not entail hoarding as much wealth as possible or to treat women as objects for our sexual gratification.
It is time to bring back initiatory experiences and tell young men you are a man now and this is the code of honor you are expected to upkeep. It is time to examine as a culture why it is so easy for so many young men to fall through the cracks in the system, to end up in prison, to rape women, to feel so angry that they will kill their classmates. It is time to do something better. Our children deserve it.
The place to start as always is ourselves.