It’s Father’s Day, and bloggers all over the interwebs are clacking away at their keyboards, talking about all things dad-related. I will be making general statements and also referencing my dad. One, my dad is awesome. B, no. Two, my dad is a perfect example of breaking stereotypes. Three, or C, if we’re reading about dads in general, we’re all going to be reminded of our own dads, including me.
I’d like to highlight some of the wonderful things about Father’s Day: We show a greater appreciation for our male parents when a lot of focus is on the female parent. We encourage the involvement of fathers in the lives of their children, which promotes healthy family growth and development. We also encourage fathers to be good, strong role models. Giving gifts is always fun, and it’s a great excuse for a summer barbecue or family get-together.
Some negative things about it: Father’s Day is in the summer. Since I was young, I’ve thought it was unfair that I was required to make something for my mom for Mother’s Day in class, but that no school activities involved my dad simply because of when the holiday is.
Father’s Day (and Mother’s Day, for that matter) leans heavily on stereotypes. I’ve seen commercials for grills, sporting events and merchandise, watches, tools, you name it, all heavily geared at macho men. (My dad grills because he enjoys cooking, hates sports, and more often uses a soldering iron than a power drill.) Yes, Father’s Day is a perfect venue for spewing the meaning of masculinity all over men. I’ve noticed that advertising is also often geared at a son buying a gift for his father. There seems to be little in the way of expressing the father/daughter relationship, and it’s usually portrayed as being protective and much less dynamic than the role a father actually plays.
This is where feminists become very interested in the role of fathers in the lives of children, specifically daughters. It’s often assumed that mothers play the most significant role in their children’s emotional development, but this is not always the case. My dad showed me more about how to deal with my own emotions and the emotions of others than my mom ever could. All I got from her were the “absolutely don’t do this to/around/in front of people”. Fathers also help develop a child’s self-worth.
Some people think we’re trying to eliminate gender roles and remove fathers from the picture. I wouldn’t exactly say that it’s a goal of mine or anyone I know to eliminate gender roles. What I want is for human beings to be able to make whatever life choices they’re most happy with (barring the harm of another being) without being questioned, ridiculed, shamed, or persecuted for those choices. If we have to completely eliminate traditional gender roles to reach this level of equality, so be it. Lots of things about our society could use a revamp from the ground up.
There are a lot of things wrong with the ‘removing fathers’ link. If you haven’t already clicked and skimmed through it, you might do so. The main thing I take issue with is “’The bad news for Dad is that despite common perception, there’s nothing objectively essential about his contribution.’” Yes, it’s objectively obvious that a father isn’t necessary to the development of a child. Lesbians and single mothers (and grandparents and aunts and caregivers, etc) care for children every day successfully. That doesn’t indicate that we’re trying to eliminate fathers from parenting roles and we AREN’T.
There are many thoughtful and less-thoughtful opinions about fathers, parenting and feminism. I want fathers and mothers and parents in general to be involved in their children’s lives, and be positive role models. I’m glad my dad was around to care for me. I’m grateful for his influence in my life and for his constant support. I can only hope that the work I do with feminism results in more people having great dads like mine.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad, and dads all around the blogosphere!