The Politics of Father’s Day

Car d'Alene Cruise 18 June 2010

Car d'Alene Cruise held annually during Father's Day

When reading both the Kathleen Parker and Leonard Pitts’ editorials on Father’s Day, published in the Spokesman-Review (print edition), Spokane, Washington; I was immediately struck by two views that were at the polar opposite of one another. Kathleen Parker, who has a politically idealist (you could even call it utopian) view of dad with particularly religious overtones, versus the real world that Pitts inhabits.  The real world in which he is fully aware as apparently Parker is not, that “Dad” isn’t always up to the task of being a father.

I am going to take a moment and discuss something personal, my dad.  I don’t discuss my dad much and there is a reason.  He died on the 27th of October 2000 from what was ostensibly a heart attack.  But he had a host of problems that no doubt were contributing factors to his death, including bad lungs (from smoking) and dementia.  But it was how he lived his life that fit the most closely with what Pitts understood that real world dads can be like, that he wasn’t a father in a way that would have put his photo in the paper or made him a poster boy for the way dads ought to be.  Instead, he was a cruel and abusive dad.  And would have disillusioned Ms. Parker if she had the occasion of meeting him.  But, dad had only followed the way of his father, who had been cruel and abusive as well.  On the other hand, my mother spoke of her father willfully abandoning his large family and for years taking off to look for greener pastures some where else.  Apparently, he came home some years before he died and her mother (who had literally been forced to try to raise the kids on her own and farm to provide for their income) did take him back.  But, I’m afraid that this grandfather whom I never met would have disillusioned Ms. Parker as well and would have fit right in there with what Pitts had to say about far too many men and their unwillingness to be dads.

Ms. Parker advertised her book in her republished column and at the same time was more than happy to blame feminism for why “dad” doesn’t do his job of being one.  Women achieved the right to vote by the 20th century and achieved a degree of independence in the work force, finance and etc. truly by the 1980s.  And so, the “alienated man” would have very little time to feel that (according to Parker) he had no place in the new family and should simply content himself with being an anonymous sperm donor.  Ms. Parker even goes on to cite studies of those kids, the product of sperm donors, for their “real identities.”  With the religionist position that kids are truly only whole when biological parents of the kids are married to one another.  Uh, she never met families in which (such as mine) the biological parents who have known dysfunctional upbringings then bring their personal baggage into a marriage and from then on, this is also what will contribute to the particular failures of the marriage and the families as a whole.  Let’s put it bluntly, that you can’t blame the woman for how the man chooses not to behave.  He has to accept that burden of responsibility for himself.  Nor can you scapegoat the political philosophy of feminism if some guy donates sperm for cash, and deems that this is all he has to contribute to being a “father.”  Actually, if he doesn’t wish to commit to a wife and children, it should be considered that this is a male not worth “saving.”  He has already made it abundantly clear what he doesn’t wish to do with his life.

And Parker neglects to take note of the studies of kids that went looking for mom who had them put up for adoption.  Not feeling “complete” until they had known where they had come from and who the “real” parent was.  But then, that would never do, huh.

Where my late father was concerned; I think that even now, he could have done his family a bigger favor if he had simply done what my late grandfather had done and walked away and looked for greener pastures somewhere else.  Simply because, I remember some particularly cruel words of his, that he wasn’t “my father.”  If that’s the case (I was entering into my teen years at the time), then who was my father?  Whether he intended to hurt mom or myself was never really clear, but he did some real damage.  He could not have made whole (and I think he never intended to do so) his relationship with his kids, especially myself after that particular tirade.  After his death, mom said once that she had remained faithful, but that dad had a tendency to run around being what you’d call (in polite society) a real lady’s man.  I wonder, if that was ever the case, just how many half -siblings he might have fathered?  Sorry, Kathleen Parker; but it would have to take someone exceptional to meet your idea of “dad.”  Feminism didn’t “alienate” men.  Feminism came about because of “men” like my dad.  Someone who couldn’t be depended upon for support and the proper rearing of children; was what made feminism possible.

Leonard Pitts discussed the sad sort of mind set of a society that puts little to no sanction on men (Parker) for failing to be proper dads.  Case in point, the man who sells his sperm for $$$.  Well, blame it on the anti-feminist political “Christians” who prefer to sanction women for feminist philosophies and demand that they need to know their place as women and mothers.  The women must do so, but dad doesn’t have to be a dad if he doesn’t want to.  He certainly isn’t held to account for his failure to do so, as Pitts was to note:  Larry Bird, among others mentioned in his column.  How about that.  Larry Bird symptomatic of “fathers” who sire children and fail to acknowledge their existence are simply “sperm donors” the old fashioned way (they didn’t sell sperm for cash at a clinic).  And really, isn’t it guys like this that make abortion too possible?

Parker likes to lash out at women who failing to find Mr. Right by the age of 40 and desperate to have children…  And of course, the anonymous sperm donor whom the born kids don’t “feel complete” without knowing something about him…   I have this to say in closing; a real father is that guy who loves his kids and made himself part of their lives in a good way.  It doesn’t matter that he adopted the kids not his, if he demonstrated a real desire to care for them as though they were his kids at the time of conception; then he is as real a father as you are likely to find.  On the other hand, “dad” who sells his sperm for cash, doesn’t intend to be a father.

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