Another Father’s Day has come and gone, which means another flood of conservative posts declaring fatherhood is dead and Liberal Society was found standing over its corpse, red-handed. From Megan McArdle’s guest-blogger, Tony Woodlief:
It’s striking that when one hears of someone being “mothered,” this evokes the image of caretaking, but “fathered” simply means, to most of us, that someone has successfully spread his genes.
Shame on us, whoever we are. By the way, who is Woodlief talking about? What group of people does he think simply spreads their genes without sticking around to raise the fruit of their loins? It can’t be white conservatives, who love God, apple pie, Mom, fatherhood, and bombing foreign countries. Who on earth could he possibly mean? I just can’t figure it out.
The sociobiologists have explained this in the language of costs and benefits, which suits everyone just fine, I suppose, except that at the end of the day we are left with the reality that a man who fathers children and then does not subsequently care for them really is not much of a man.
Conservatives have a fine grasp of the obvious. They enjoy telling us that two head are better than one, war is hell, and a hero ain’t nothin’ but a sandwich.
The statistics are undeniable and well-rehearsed by now — children abandoned by their fathers are at considerably greater risk for poverty, crime, abuse, and perhaps worst of all, repetition of the sad cycle that has helped reduce the title to denoting the remnant of a sex act.
Okay, I was with him until “reduce the title to denoting the remnant of a sex act.” I am not quite sure what he means by that, but I am guessing it has something to do with sex, or sex-like acts, which have been demoted from something sacred and sublime when Daddy and Trophy Wife #4 do it in the hot tub to the tawdry remnants of sin-stained lust when Brockton, Jr, and Muffy do it in the back seat of his new Camaro.
It’s something we associate with the lower classes, though I’ve seen too many wealthy executives do something similar, abandoning their children not financially but emotionally.
Now, this is why even white people hate white people sometimes. The rules of public discourse state you can only refer to “the lower classes” if you are (1)British aristocracy, (2)several centuries old, and (3)looking through a monocle at the time. Otherwise you just look stupid.
More than one retired captain of industry has confessed to me, with the quiet sadness of someone who knows there is no redemption, that his success wasn’t worth it.
Excuse me, I seem to have something caught in my throat.
Cough*bullshit*cough. There, that’s better.
And you can only use “captain of industry” if you’re Rudyard Kipling, which Mr. Woodlief evidently thinks is the case. But worse than the faux Victorian phraseology is the faux sentimentality-the kind Woodlief said his class was immune to. I picture his captain of industry in a wood-panel lined office, mementos of the British Raj scattered around the room, raising his sorrowful eyes, and with trembling lips confessing his deepest sorrows to Tony Woodlief, God Whisperer.
“I thought I was happy,” the Captain of Industry said. “I made billions by cutting costs and outsourcing jobs. Sure, there was the occasional cloud of poisonous gas or massive oil spill, but I had mansions with indoor-outdoor pools and hot and cold running hookers. But alas, it was all for naught. No amount of money, fame or power can replace the love I threw away by sending Brockton Ebeneezer Scrimshaw, Jr, to boarding school and summer camp. What is success compared to that?”
It’s easier to achieve acclaim in the workplace than the home, however, and so we fathers gravitate to the places where our cleverness or hard work will find reward, and abrogate our duties at home, and imagine that we are doing this all for our families, when really it is because we are cowards. The most intractable business problem, after all, is infinitely more solvable than a wayward teenager. And so do we become failures as we grasp for accomplishment.
They reached for the brass ring of accomplishment and all they got was the fool’s gold of self-deception.
My prayer is that fathers will turn their hearts back to their families. Not in a sentimental way, but in the hard things that are always the true measure of the heart, in the sacrifice of ourselves for these children who did not ask to be here but who are with us, and who need us, and who deserve for the verb “father” to mean something richer than it has come to mean.
Flogging fatherhood to conservatives with delusions of persecution has made fatherhood richer for some people. The rest of us will have pray that fathers will be able to hold on to their jobs and feed their families after our upper classes are through poisoning their water, blowing them up, outsourcing their jobs, and cutting their employment insurance.