On Fathers

I saw a comment recently online to the effect that US President Obama’s daughters are rapidly approaching adolescence, “faster than Dad would like”.

So I thought I’d say a couple of things.

Firstly, that it’s always annoyed me when people call somebody “Mum” or “Dad” – or any variation on the theme – if they clearly do not have that kind of relationship with them. My paternal grandmother, for example, always refered to my mother (her daughter-in-law) as “Mummy”. For quite some time, Mum didn’t realise that my grandmother was addressing her, since not even my siblings or I call my mother “Mummy”! Of course, my gran was convinced that Mum was not answering just to be rude to her, and made our visits a little hellish. Joys.


Secondly, I really, really hate those horrible “Dad” stereotypes.

In short, because they’re just another nasty offshoot of the patriarchal stereotypes of men generally.

In long, because not only are they just another nasty offshoot of the patriarchal stereotypes of men generally, but because I feel that they are an insult to just about every good father out there. Including my own.

The two most pervasive stereotypes that I’ve found are:

A: “Daddy” doesn’t want “his precious little girl(s)” to grow up.

For the record, my father has no interest in the state of my hymen. He does want me to be healthy and happy, and to that end, we did indeed once have a conversation to the effect of “have fun, just don’t get pregnant or infected with anything”. Now that that’s done, I don’t expect to ever have that kind of a conversation with him again. He knows I’ll take care of myself, he knows I know what I’m doing, and I talk openly with my mother about being on the pill. So I’m sure he’s been informed – in general, at least – that I’m not likely to get pregnant any time soon.

B: “Daddy” secretly always wanted a boy.

When my mother was pregnant for the third time, nearly eight years ago (and possibly also when she was pregnant the second time round – but I wouldn’t know about that, as I was 1 at the time), my dad got a lot of well-meaning comments which strongly implied this. You know the type: “Oh, I bet you’re hoping for a boy this time!”  or, “wouldn’t it be nice to have a son to play football with?!” – that kind of thing.

And you know what? Seriously, my dad never cared. He just wanted a healthy baby. And you know what else? It’s really, really fucking insulting to his two daughters, to say, when they’re standing right next to him, “oh, I bet you’re hoping for a boy!”.

What, are two daughters not good enough? Seriously? Am I, by virtue of the fact that my gonads are inside my body instead of outside, worth less to you? Does a tiny little floppy thing inside a nappy mean that much to you? If so, you’ll make a shitty, shitty parent. And I’m glad I’ve got my dad and not you.


I don’t think that the commenter I picked up on was saying what they did in a malicious way. I do think that perhaps what they said was not as thought out as it could have been. And I do think that stereotypes should be challenged. Because they are rarely true, and rarely complimentary.

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4 Comments on “On Fathers”

  1. llencelyn says:

    Good post. I like the points you bring.

    And I do think that stereotypes should be challenged. Because they are rarely true, and rarely complimentary.

    Yup. Case in point. My father. For whom both stereotypes are true. Definitely not a compliment.

    ^_^

  2. Rachel says:

    Thanks 🙂
    Condolences on the stereotype-dad…

  3. Lee H says:

    I’ve been disturbed by the “one of each” phenomenon for as long as I can recall. For one thing it casually dismisses the existence of intersexed people.

    Curiously I’ve yet to hear anyone say they want “one of each” in reference to eye colour, skin colour, hair colour, height, weight or any of the various other human body variables. For whatever reason it would seem that in the eyes of far too many parents Genitals Reign Supreme (and they must be clearly defined genitals at that).

    – Lee
    (Who made daisy chains whilst the others played football.)

  4. Rachel says:

    Haha! You’ve just given me a great comeback for if/when I have kids:
    “no, I don’t want a boy and a girl – I’m aiming for one blonde and one brunette!”


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