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Thinking about Masculinity on Father’s Day

So Father’s Day is fast approaching, as it is on the 16th June, wow how time flies!!

I am very lucky that my son will have made me a card and a lovely present, which is so very kind of him and makes me feel very loved and special.

I have been talking with him quite a lot recently about masculinity and therefore views on what it is to be a man in our society. He has a beautifully fluid and inclusive view of what boys and girls, women and men, can do and can be. I want this to be nurtured and encouraged.

The origins of Father’s Day apparently lie in single fatherhood. In 1910, Sonora Smart Dodd, raised the idea that her father, a single father to six children, should have a similar day to honour him as Mother’s Day. Thus the origins of Father’s Day lie with a family headed by a single father.

Single fatherhood raises challenges for socially constructed gendered norms and hegemonic masculinity. Hegemonic masculinity enforces the idea that to be a “real man” we must show traits such as authority, aggressiveness, strength, and competitiveness. I know this really isn’t me, and my son recognises this too. But I am his main male role model.

As single fathers we can be understood to experience subordinated or marginal masculinities. Thus, we are different from societal expectations of the “real man”. We can thus be viewed as outsiders as men and as primary carers for our children, raising questions about who we are and where we fit within society. This makes us different in many ways.

We are living in times where populism is growing in politics and society, resulting in people considered different or belonging to a minority group suffering or being targeted. Yet difference is the essence of society and us as humans.

Therefore on Father’s Day what I really want is to return to my son’s beautiful and inclusive view of masculinity and what it means to be a man. I am confident that Sonora Smart Dodd shared some of these inclusive views way back in 1910. We need to promote this and work to ensure that once our children are adults, those considered different to the norm are fully accepted and celebrated.

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY TO YOU ALL!

Simon

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