05: Fatherhood cont’d

with one comment

As with other chapters, the solutions appear almost simplistic. There is nothing in the conspiracy or its rejection that is particularly complicated. The conspiracy is a power system that employs various themes to leverage that power: each chapter you are reading is looking at this exact same thing from a different angle (you have probably already noticed a certain predictable repetition in this text as a result). The solution is about waking up to the fact that the conspiracy has being going on for so long that it has become highly naturalized, and simply choosing not to be part of it. It’s not the first time that I’ve evoked the image of slavery in this chapter, but it continues to be apt. For a long time people thought it was natural to enslave people, but once the (really rather simple) ethical implications of this had been fully outlined and politicized, it became a difficult position to justify.

Counter-conspiratorial fathering is simply about choosing not to put the perpetuation of conspiratorial values first, and instead promoting the values of the child. And here’s the key point, in just the same way as the conspiracy tells us the supposed nature of the values that define masculinity, so too childhood. And just as countering the conspiracy is about realizing that there are no certain values that define masculinity, so too childhood. There are very few values that are “appropriate” to childhood, and those (such as love and support) work equally well for boys and girls.

There is no “way” to bring up “boys,” as if they are a single type of thing with a single set of needs. I always find the idea of “special needs” (usually applied to physical and mental “disabilities”) in respect to children truly bizarre, as if there was a child that did not have special needs. All children are “special needs” children. Further still, after that realization I would then reject the term “special needs” (including for those perceived to be disabled), and say all children have different needs, period. That is the key to counter-conspiratorial fathering: difference; that is the key to counter-conspiratorial masculinity. I am not talking about treating all children the same (the kind of “gender neutral society” bemoaned by Harvey Mansfield in the History chapter), rather treating all children in a way that meets their different needs. There is nothing neutralizing about this: we return to the value of multiplicity, rather than the prescriptive nature of thinking about boys’ and girls’ needs in terms of binary gendered characteristics.



Written by Joseph Gelfer

June 14, 2011 at 1:46 pm

One Response

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  1. OK…now I feel like I am headed for a ditch. “countering the conspiracy is about realizing that there are no certain values that define masculinity”. Definition: Clear, Distinct. Meaning of a word phrase or term. Conveying fundamental character. How would you define masculinity without using certain values?


    September 14, 2013 at 1:48 pm

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