We all love our Dad. Such a statement would have been trite fifty years ago. Boys grew up expecting to become a father, breadwinner, head of the family and husband of a loving wife. Our kids would look up to us and people would respect us. That’s how it was in those years before about 1970. I base this on my own family experience, and work I did for a book on Australian men, Fathers, Sons and Lovers.
Today almost any statement about family becomes controversial. Families are – we now admit- really diverse. Teachers tell me that a kid with two dads is nothing unusual. Mixed-race families are commonplace: it’s sometimes tricky working out who are the parents of a kid who might be dark-skinned or Asian in appearance. And we are about to have a long and painful debate about same-sex marriages. And an unnecessary one, to judge from what I’ve heard from the younger generation (“why don’t they just get on with it?”)
Are fathers respected today? Many men have talked about the suspicion that falls on men. There was the case of a man asked by staff to move from his seat on a plane because he was sitting next to children. Of course: he might be a child molester, was the implication.
Men: just fools and clowns?
Men are not seen as very interesting these days, except as problems. As we watch the nightly news, see for yourself how often this follows. If there is a victim, it’s probably going to be a female. If a married man and woman are interviewed, somehow the female usually does the talking. If some evil has been done, or some criminal act done, expect to be told that a man did it. The ABC and SBS seem especially fond of…
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