Sunday, June 13, 2010

To WHM who are dads: Make It A Happy Father's Day--Stop Raping Your Daughter and Beating Your Child's Mother

 [photo of a family in Australia is from here]

And if you are a father and don't do either, and don't abuse your sons, or abuse your daughters in any way, or abuse or control your spouse (of whatever gender) in any way, please organise other dads in order to stop the fathers who are sexually, emotionally, and physically abusive to their children and spouses. And if you're white and class privileged, stop whining about the "Rights" you don't have and start dealing with the Responsibilities you have to be humane, and work to make room for more marginalised men to be good fathers: gay men, working class men, ethnically despised and invisibilised men, men of color, and disabled men.

And if you're a good father--married, partnered, or single--please stop expecting a Thank You from their mother (or anyone else) if you do things such as:

--change them, if they are infants and toddlers
--figure out what they're crying means
--get food for them
--cook food for them
--feed them
--take them to school or friends' homes
--attend to their wants and needs
--put them to bed
--spend time with them
--appropriately and respectfully parent them in any way

Stop expecting any more applause for what you do that women get for parenting.

And, if you're an excellent, loving, caring, non-abusive, anti-homophobia, anti-racist, tender father who is fully respectful of women, THANK YOU! I love seeing excellent fathers parent their children. It happens too little, though, in my experience. What I see more is fathers trying to control their children and gender them in ridiculously stereotypical and homophobic ways, and use their children in despicable ways when divorcing the child/ren's mother.

To all the great GAY dads out there: thanks for all you do to raise healthy children. I had a very good dad and was blessed. He died way too young but long enough to raise me. Happy Father's Day, Dad.

And to all the MOTHERS: THANK YOU for ALL YOU DO that is taken for granted, un- and under-appreciated, and disrespected, all year long.

And to one woman in particular, who is also mother, I am wishing and praying for you to be reunited with your daughter very soon, and for each of you to be free and safe from the male abuser who was with you and, against all humane measures of justice, is currently with your child... for now, but hopefully not for long.

[photo of parent and child in Mumbai is from here]


Anonymous said...

I love this post... especially the list of things that men shouldn't expect some kind of special "thank you" for doing. Sometimes I find myself smiling more or thinking it's particularly sweet when I see a dad who's obviously totally in love with being a dad, but I realized how fucked up this is; we live a society where even someone like me (who tries very hard to be conscious of inequities such as this) finds herself thinking that someone who seems to be an attentive dad is something special/rare and initially warrants more "awwww"-ing than a mom who is equally in love with being a mom. The reality is that it brightens my day to see anyone being a happy parent. Great stuff as usual.

Julian Real said...

Hey Katula--from one INFJ to another!!,

I'm so glad you liked this post.

I think I've recently noted in another post that the definitions/expectations/imperatives/demands for "the good father" and "the good mother" are completely different.

The good father is present or out working to earn money, doesn't abuse, and doesn't grossly neglect, isn't a drunk or a drug addict.

"The good mother" is an impossibly high standard of parenting perfection, patriarchal to the core, requiring utter selflessness and self-sacrifice for her children, spouse, and everyone else other than herself. No human being can (or ought to) live up to this, so that all moms in patriarchal societies get to feel like failures on some level, whereas most dads who aren't doing the above stuff--and even if they are--get to think of themselves as "good dads".

I ask dads about their parenting and they mention what they feel they've done best. I ask moms and they mention what they feel they did that they could have done better.


Patriarchy rules... and not in a good way.

Anonymous said...

Wow! You have a very intense blog. I don't like your attitude (you sound just like any another jaded racist, but the message is clear. As a married "white" (who says I'm not a person of color!?? Actually I am a little bit pink) man, I am looking forward to being the kind of loving father you've described. I know what you are saying about the "WHM" thing, but my challenge to you is to not see it as systematized. That makes it sounds as if white men across the world have united to collude some global grab. This explanation is the easy way out and the easy way to explain why WHM have dominated modern times.

It is far more complex and, at the same time, much simpler to figure out. But I am not in your shoes and I cannot possibly understand what it is you think and feel. Attaining power is one thing, but I think what your referring to is the systems employed in order to try to keep the power.

Julian Real said...

Hi Jeff,

Intense is good, yes? :)

I'm going to respond in two parts here.

I assure you that my "attitude" has little to do with whites overtly or covertly dominating much of the world, or patriarchal atrocities existing, or gay men being beaten up by het men.

My question to you is by what means will white supremacy, male supremacy, and heterosexism end? What are the practices and perspectives that will accomplish this? What values? What methods of organising?

Your suggestion evades the question and helps ensure all those systems remain fundamentally in tact, so that the oppressive harm this blog centrally addresses will not be taken up by you.

This I know well: Western white het class-privileged men don't ever want to be seen "as a group". Identifying you as part of a group doesn't tell me much, really, about what sort of fellow you are personally--it doesn't tell me what your favorite color is or what your favorite foods and movies are, but it does tell me what privileges you have relative to those without them. And that constructs us, partly.

And, it tells me that I can put money on the fact that you haven't read these books: Yurugu, by Dr. Marimba Ani, and Sister Outsider, by Audre Lorde. Am I correct? Please tell me if I'm wrong.

I'm going to wager that most if not all of your favorite books and movies have a WHM lead character or author. Am I wrong?

You being a WHM tells me that you or many of the WHM you know probably hold mistaken negative views of radical feminism as being "too often anti-man", and of lesbianism as "hot" for all the wrong reasons. Am I right?

That construction of you, of "your people", with power and privileges acted out interpersonally and bolstered institutionally, which includes your social status and position relative to those you structurally oppress does "exist".

I'm not making it up to indulge myself in a fantasy world, I assure you.

WHM supremacy exists in the form of particular shared and acted out values, behaviors, attitudes, and philosophies. One of the behaviors is to believe you, Jeff, are in no way responsible for ending rape.

Do you think women, collectively, have that luxury to assume "The heterosexual men will stop raping us. We don't have to challenge them about it. They'll just stop on their own."???

Let me ask you: what have you done in your life, in close and organised collaboration with other men with accountability to women, to ensure that rapes don't happen among your group of het men--among the het men you know and call "friends"? What have you done to stop white supremacist violence and bigotry, or, even, to stop racist joke-telling among all the whites you encounter? (Or is that only the job of people of color to attend to, as individuals?)

What have you done to challenge heterosexism's privileges and power?

What political philosophies do you most admire? I'm going to make an assumption here and I welcome you to set me straight, so to speak. ;)

Julian Real said...

Hi Jeff,

Make that a three part answer!

The philosophy most admired by white het men is one of liberal humanist individualism, which supports white het men to only be socially discussed and challenged "as individuals" and erases from reality the REALITY that you are a group, a politically active group, not in a way that means you're making mobile phone calls to each other before you go to bed. But in ways that require you to not interrupt certain things "your people" do, that are oppressive to those of us who are not in your group.

No one is only an individual, even while we also are all individuals, in some regard. But if you think being the only white person in a group that is predominantly of color, or, even, all white, doesn't manifest in some ways that ensures the maintenance of white supremacy, it's your privilege that allows you to not know exactly in how many ways you actions or inactions do exactly that.

If you think being a het man doesn't play itself out socially in "gendered" ways, you're also not in touch with what het male privilege does to a person's identity and humanity and social behavior.

I believe you are misinterpreting the political function of me identifying WHM a group. It isn't to promote bigotry.

It's so I can track the ways that you, Jeff--if you are white, het, and a man--are embued socially with many forms of status and worth, with value and attributes that make your people's lives, collectively, easier than that of poor lesbian women of color. And that "show up" including in the comment you left here above.

What you probably know, but may not admit, is that your group is the only one that thinks it ought not be seen as one. Your group--WHM--is the only one that actually has sufficient privileges and social power to resist being seen as one.

Think about it: "White gay men are [ ]"; African American men are [ ]"; "Latina women are [ ]". You can fill in the blanks with what you hear all the white het men around you say.

What do WHM you know put in the blank spaces? Promiscuous? Dangerous? Uppity? You tell me. I'd say it likely depends on where you live and what time period we're talking about.

And if you're liberal, you probably won't want to admit you all do that sort of stereotyping and likely feel "bad" if you do. And if you're conservative you are more likely to feel okay and even proud of doing so.

You tell me what you witness among the WHM you've known for years. And how often you come into contact with extremely harmful misperceptions of "your group". I mean EXTREMELY harmful and DEEPLY hurtful misperceptions, that leave you depressed, feeling despondent, feeling so wounded you cry.

NO Black woman I know can pass through even one day without being cast into a grossly stereotypical box, a harshly negative light, having a mind-spinningly distorted view of herself reflected back to her by whites and men, that ISN'T based on her individuality. She can't pass through ONE DAY in society with that luxury that you are proposing I dignify you with, that society already dignifies you with.

Julian Real said...

You suggest not seeing WHM supremacy as a members of a system that benefits you. Why? For whose liberation? People of color? Queer people? Women? Or yours?

My point is that just about everywhere you go, among whites, among heterosexuals, and among men--and that's likely a lot of people you encounter in your life--you will primarily be seen as "an individual" in ways women, people of color, and lesbians and gay men are not, by WHM.

Any WHM who knows I'm gay carries assumptions to me about what that means, and they are almost always wrong. Every African American person I know, and every Black person outside the U.S., carries assumptions about what it means that I'm a U.S. white guy, and those assumptions are usually right.

You're expressing to me some resistance to being put in a box. I say, "Feel what that's like, deeply, and realise you can go through life mostly not being in one."

That'd be lucky for you, except it has nothing at all to do with luck. Society is organised within and by systems and institutionalised beliefs about human nature, about what race is, about what gender is, about what our genitals mean and what we're supposed to do with them. And each and every one of those systems, institutions, and industries is run by actual human beings with values and attitudes about the "us" that isn't you and your people.

I don't believe one WHM group meets once a week in an office building or church basement--except to go to AA meetings.

I believe WHM meet casually and professionally all the time in ways that help reinforce WHM supremacy. And in ways that rarely challenge it, in part because you, Jeff, and so many other WHM, resist even thinking of yourself as "one of them".

See, you get to grow up and mostly not be "one of them". Mexicans in the U.S. have no such luxury (meaning, entitlement and privilege). Lesbians and gay men have no such luxury (entitlement and privilege).

It is more complex than one group of WHM meeting with the specific intention of preserving WHM supremacy, yes. But it's not so very complex that you are rendered ONLY an individual with no culpability, no responsibility, in the project of either enabling or eradicating WHM supremacy.

Does that make sense to you?

I'm not saying you are only a stereotype. I'm saying you're no less of one or more of one than anyone else. And therefore why should you get to be thought of qualitatively "different" than most of the world's population of poor people of color who never get portrayed in Western white media as "only individuals".

And I'm saying that WHM attitudes such as yours, here, contribute to reinforcing WHM privileges and oppressive power. That you've done that, here. With your one comment in ways you don't even recognise.

An attitude that contributes to the maintenance of WHM supremacist violence and discrimination is you feeling indignant when someone sees you as "one of them", and when anyone at all asks you to be responsible with the privileges and entitlements you have that you likely couldn't name for me right now. But prove me wrong: write back with fifty ways you are privileged by being a WHM. I love to be proven wrong by WHM. But when I've challenged WHM in the past, here, I never hear back from them. Is that a "group" behavior?

Julian Real said...

Oh, and on being "pink". Dude. Really. You have white privileges in a racist society, not "pink" ones. That makes you white. Sorry to bust your pink-self bubble.

Welcome to the world of raced identities.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Real,

By the way, I am not a father yet. I said I am looking to being a father. Just to clear that up. I appreciate your interest in the context of my character, but I fell like you're just chatting me up like I'm a puppet.

I have been around lesbians and feminists of all types for almost my entire life. Many of whom self-describe as radical. From my personal experience (not assumptions) it seems to me that most of these radicals I met do not have much of a sense of humor nor any patience to speak of. These are my observations based on personal experiences. The irony is that there's this one radical feminist I know who is an amateur stand-up comedian (and she's quite funny), but in normal conversation she has no sense of humor and is not playing around. I respect the not playing around part, but lighten up.

What I am getting at is the pink thing. No matter what I say I would be perceived as a WHM because I am a male and look white and appear to be a heterosexual. This would be the perception by some stranger. However, when I look at my skin I can see the real color and it is really a kind of pink color because blood is red and is providing a background field of color to my whitish skin. Anyway, that was a joke. ha ha

Dude, you are not going to box me up and pin me down. Why am I not surprised that you're in Chicago?

Julian Real said...

By the way, I am not a father yet. I said I am looking to being a father. Just to clear that up.

No need. I never said you WERE a father, did I? I never even assumed you were. Sooo, whatever.

I appreciate your interest in the context of my character, but I fell like you're just chatting me up like I'm a puppet.

Okay. So leave. There's no lock on the door exiting here, in case you haven't noticed.

I have been around lesbians and feminists of all types for almost my entire life. Many of whom self-describe as radical.

Which doesn't make them radical, does it? I know lots of radical white guys who fancy themselves radicals who aren't at all. So what?

From my personal experience (not assumptions) it seems to me that most of these radicals I met do not have much of a sense of humor nor any patience to speak of. These are my observations based on personal experiences.

So you base your opinions on a hugely diverse group based on your own life's individual experiences. Got it. Good luck with that. That's called "being narrow-minded".

The irony is that there's this one radical feminist I know who is an amateur stand-up comedian (and she's quite funny), but in normal conversation she has no sense of humor and is not playing around. I respect the not playing around part, but lighten up.

So you know some women who don't show YOU much of their humor, except the woman who shows it to YOU on stage, and you draw all kinds of conclusions about "radicals" based on THAT?! Wow. Dude. Really. Open your steel-trap mind, would you?

On the pink skin thing. I know you were trying to be funny. I just didn't think it was funny. So because I don't think you are funny, does that mean you're "a radical"?

Dude, you are not going to box me up and pin me down. Why am I not surprised that you're in Chicago?

This comes across to me as about as irrational as you've been to date. It makes NO SENSE at all, in case you're wondering.

See ya.

Kelsey said...

C'mon, you unloaded a multiple page length prediction of his life and character in response to a single line of not seeing it as an institution that could potentially remove personal responsibility, and then you lambasted him for doing the same to you in one sentence. That is hardly fair. And if you are going to welcome him to set you straight, then you honor that invitation by not automatically questioning his assessment of the radical character of his friends.

Finally, stating, "I am pink" does not refer to any racial group that I know of, so I don't know how it could have been interpreted as anything other than humor in the form of absurd exactness.

Julian Real said...

What are you referring to, Kelsey? I'm not seeing it in the post above.