Fatherhood and Feminism
After reading The Smartest Kid on Earth, I began to think about the relationship between kinds and their fathers and what effect it has on children’s’ lives. The book shifts back and forth in time, showing how generations of Corrigans' selfish, stunted behavior has affected Jimmy, whose only happiness occurs in his dreams, where he's “the smartest kid on earth.” The relationship between four generations of careless fathers and dysfunctional sons make it not an easy story to read because all of the adults are flawed and you can see how the way they treat each other and the children around them is only going to create more of the same. This is also portrayed in the artwork – the Corrigan clan look similar throughout the generations and you can see exactly how the bloodline has ended up the way it has.
Bring this into our feminist context--I was wondering how the relationship between fathers and their kids contribute to feminism? What kinds of men are more likely to have ‘feminist daughters’? Weak? Unhappy? Heartless? I find that a lot of the focus in the feminist mothering movement is on ensuring the rights of mothers and furthering the position of mothers in society. But what is the role for the men in that equation? I think we need a society that values parenthood, not just motherhood. Otherwise it will always be about making concessions for women.
More importantly, the problem with feminist mothering is that it either pushes for women to be freed from the shackles of motherhood (by making it easier for them to put their kids into day care) or it pushes for concessions in the workplace for women. While I don't think there is anything wrong with pushing for those things, I think we need to push for a society that values family and parenthood. One that recognizes that role that parents play in raising the next generation. One that recognizes that fathers, like mothers, may need to strike a balance between their career and their family life.
Interestingly enough, when I was reading NYT last night, I came across this article coincidently, which kind of relates to fatherhood and feminism. It provides much interesting information about stay-at-home dads. For those of you who are interested: The Doubts of a Stay-at-Home Dad