By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
There is some nutso stuff going on around us, and we have heard it around the clock ‘til we want to shriek. And then in the middle of it comes a holiday that has become the butt of a lot of jokes because often the only thing that people can come up with to give their dads is a new tie, a drill, coffee mug, socks, or a fishing rod. What is the holiday? Father’s Day.
Father’s Day has an interesting and controversial history. It was originally a spin-off to the celebration of Mother’s Day, and it was initially met with cynicism by many men. The woman who officially started the celebration back in the early part of the 20th century wanted to honor her dad, a single dad who had lost his wife and raised six kids by himself. However, dads felt as though trying to leverage the commercial aspect of the holiday was a ploy; they were the ones paying for the gifts their families were feeling pressured to purchase. And, because flowers, hearts, chocolates, and spa days are not going to make a lot of American guys jump up and down, maybe cards, both commercial and homemade come closer to meeting the needs of a man’s heart.
What does a man need like he needs oxygen? Respect. One of the most important lessons I learned while I was in Iraq was that for guys, virtually nothing is more important. Respect equals love, and in our culture, when it comes to men, respect has just about gone the way of the dinosaur.
Consider sit-coms: Invariably the man is portrayed as the idiot, and if he has a friend or neighbor, the idiocy factor skyrockets. He is childish, selfish, easily manipulated, and often downright dumb. Now, I am not saying that those kinds of guys don’t exist and that everyone is some kind of Boy Scout, but if you were to have the majority of sit-coms “dis” women with the same level of passion, there would be an outcry and lawsuits. Maybe you’d have legislation as well.
When men feel like it’s okay to be honest, they will tell you that they are a bit hesitant to ever be vulnerable about anything that is genuinely important to them because they have been portrayed as being the source of every problem on the planet. Male privilege, white male privilege, being relegated to being virtually worthless and unnecessary as a parent or a partner, black, red and brown men deemed dispensable; and we are paying the price for it, big time.
We are failing in our culture in part due to fatherlessness, and need to do some hard work to reverse that curse and that course. We can and we must. Men have to step up, and so does everyone else. In a couple of days it is going to be Father’s Day, and there is something that you can do, even if you feel your dad doesn’t deserve it. It will mean more than a tie or tickets to the Trash Pandas. You can look for the one thing he did right and thank him for it. You never know what that may do for you both.