When I saw this picture of David Beckham kissing his son, my heart just turned to goo. Is there anything more gorgeous than seeing a man kiss his little boy? It’s so achingly sweet and something we hardly ever see in the popular media, and that’s a damn shame. An openly affectionate, loving father is the most important thing a boy can have –his insurance policy against all the messages in the media that tell him men and fathers just aren’t important to children.
CNN can celebrate single mothers all they want- it doesn’t change the fact that children, and especially boys who grow up without the love and affection of their fathers have very poor outcomes, and the rest of us get to pay for that with cold hard cash. Estimates range from $500 million to one billion dollars per year to support single mothers in the US. Whichever way you slice it, the costs are enormous, and they don’t even include the emotional costs to children growing up without a dad.
JudgyBitch has talked about little girls and their Daddies before, so today I’m going to focus on little boys. http://judgybitch.com/2012/11/02/daddy-should-be-every-little-girls-first-love/
I personally would like to see a culture where deep SHAME is heaped on women who willingly deny their children a father, either by consciously eliminating men from their children’s lives through divorce or choosing men who have no interest in being fathers to HER children, but go ahead and have that child anyways. The whole baby-daddy phenomena is just sickening. Women currently have the power to decide whether men WILL be fathers when pregnancy is unintended, and that is how it should be, but for the love of fucking god ladies, think about your CHILD before jumping into single motherhood with a man who is NOT interested in supporting you or having a child with you.
One of the ways we can start to change the culture is to make images of affection and love between fathers and sons mainstream. It shouldn’t come as a pleasant shock to see Becks smooching his little guy. It should be something we see everywhere, all the time. Representations of fathers in the media leave a whole lot to be desired, and little boys growing up with those primarily negative portrayals are learning some incredibly destructive ideas about what it means to be a father, a husband, a man.
Fathers have gone from being absolutely essential to the well-being of children, families, communities and societies to being disposable and good for not much other than paying the bills, either through child support or taxation. The idea that fathers provide LOVE is almost completely absent in popular culture. The image of a father as a source of deep emotional fulfilment almost never appears. Little boys are left feeling that it is somehow WRONG for them to crave their father’s kisses or his arms protectively around them.
My heart breaks for fathers who have been removed from their children’s lives by absurdly sexist and deeply unfair parental custody laws. They are absent from their children’s lives not by conscious choice, and they are more or less helpless to do anything about it. What they can do is remember that no matter what else, their love and affection will never cease to be important.
The same is true for fathers who are accused of being “deadbeat” which is really a race coded word for “black”. Being black while being a father is not a crime, but you wouldn’t know that from the media, would you?
Mostly, I just bitch and moan and get all judgy on this blog, but today, I’m calling for some activism. When you see men and fathers being represented as useless/irrelevant/uninterested/cold/distant, speak out. Say something.
Lots of love,