Another day, another person complaining about today’s society.
This time, it’s about fatherhood. In her June 12 Daily Journal column, Ms. Dimitre begins by sharing a quote from Paul Raeburn on “our” failure to acknowledge father’s importance. And by our, I can’t help but think Dimitre intends to point the finger at women. The subtext here is that the fault lies, as with everything, with “militant feminists.” It’s their fault that fathers are no longer welcome in society.
For her, I have one word: Stop.
I’m sick of this conversation. I’m sick of the word “feminist” being used in a negative context. I’m sick and tired that at the basis of everything, women are always to blame: your skirt was too short, you were asking for it, you had sex so you deserve to get pregnant, you want a career so your kids will be maladjusted. Now, because women are taking up more space in society, it is somehow our fault that fathers aren’t “welcome?”
Sorry, Dorothy, but the conversation is changing. The problem has never been about not acknowledging men’s importance, or about men not feeling welcome. The problem is with the sexist undertones of older generations thinking that at the crux of it all, society is not whole unless men hold the power.
I am not arguing against the validity or importance of fatherhood. I am married to a kind, caring, loving man who I cannot wait to see as the father of my children someday. But it is not my job to validate him as a father, nor is it his job to validate me as a mother. We are also both white and middle class. We are both privileged. And our lives and circumstances are not the same as others. Our lives and circumstances should not be the standard by which others should be judged.
Dimitre’s true intentions are further revealed with the following:
“Especially in the media, boys view few examples of mature, connected and mindful men. No more “Father Knows Best.” Instead we find pathetic sit-coms like “Modern Family,” etc. depicting fathers who act more irresponsible than their kids.”
Sense the anger here? If her argument is that society does not give a safe space for men to be fathers, isn’t it ironic, then, that she herself is not giving space for those fathers through her judgment of them? Dimitre demeans fathers who she sees as making mistakes (or, as she deems it, “act more irresponsible than their kids.”) Perhaps this belief is what is causing actual harm to fatherhood, here. I wonder if she has ever seen an episode of this show — the fathers I have seen are caring, mindful men who take pride in connecting emotionally to their children. It also showcases a straight couple, a gay couple with an adopted child, and a multi-racial couple with an age difference raising the woman’s Hispanic son. Multiple types of fatherhood wrapped up into neat, 25-minute episodes.
That cannot, however, be said for “Father knows Best.” I have an extremely limited knowledge of the show, having never watched it before reading Dimitre’s opinion piece (cue a quick YouTube search). After viewing an episode, it’s apparent that what Dimitre wants is not, in fact, more involved fathers, but a return to the age where white, middle class fathers are seen as the “norm.” She wants to return to a time when men were primary breadwinners. And the subtext of her article is that, like apparently everything else in America, it is women’s fault that men are not seen as necessary, because us “militant feminists” have the gall to be self-sufficient. And how is “Father Knows Best” equivalent to healthy fatherhood, anyway? Why is that the standard by which everything is judged? (Answer: it shouldn’t be).
For those who may have been nodding their heads in agreement with Dimitre’s article: I urge you to be less angry with self-actualized women, and be open to “modern families” that are not white, middle class and nuclear.
Steph Cleary is a former Bay Area teacher and recently completed her MA in London. She is now an author and lives on the East Coast.