FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
It has been said that the #EndFathersDay hashtag on Twitter was a bit of trolling, a joke, kicked off as a satire of modern feminism. A fair number of excitable feminists and their fellow-traveler liberals appear to have taken it seriously. In fairness, it can be hard to tell when feminists are joking. Have you heard the knee-slapper about Planned Parenthood instructing teenagers in the fine points of sado-masochism? Or how about when they pretended to fire the first staffer caught on undercover video offering these tips on Advanced Dungeons & Dungeons role-playing, but they really didn’t?
I got onto the #EndFathersDay tag by saying I might be willing to go along with it, if Father’s Day was replaced by Husband’s Day. That’s a bit of trolling too, but it’s a valid point that society should be encouraging stable marriage between men and women, especially (but not exclusively) when children are involved. We all have fathers, but a lot of mothers don’t have husbands, and it’s killing us.
We want to encourage men to be good fathers outside of marriage too, of course. But fatherhood, marriage, manhood, and womanhood are all inextricably related. It is impossible to re-define one without affecting the others. The deadly arrogance of the Great Society generation was to believe it was possible for ideologues, armed with the power of coercive government, to fine-tune certain aspects of these complex relationships, while leaving others untouched, and the fabric of society undamaged. They were wrong, and we’ll be paying the price for generations to come.
Let’s add another element to this complex relationship: childhood. The meaning of childhood is also powerfully linked to the way we define adult relationships. There’s no way to change what it means to be a man without also changing what it means to be a boy… and, for that matter, a girl.
When does childhood end? What are the expectations placed upon a young adult? You can tell the hardcore Left understands how these questions are tied to our definitions of manhood and womanhood, because they’re constantly trying to change adult society by tinkering with childhood. That’s what the hijinks over at Planned Parenthood boil down to: sexualizing children at increasingly young ages, and devaluing adulthood by erasing the barriers between adults and children. The notion that certain conversations are fine to hold with a 25-year-old woman, but inappropriate for a 15-year-old girl, has become old-fashioned. (To say nothing of the extra layer of outrage when organizations every taxpayer is compelled to finance holding those inappropriate conversations.) This inevitably knocks down a number of related social dominoes: the idea that womanhood contains ideals for a girl to aspire to, and the role of parents in shaping the emotional, social, and sexual development of their children. Everything the Left does with respect to children, sexuality, and education can be understood as part of a program to separate children from their parents as swiftly as possible, place them in the charge of the State, and fold them into a centralized culture.
That sure as heck doesn’t leave much room for fathers and husbands. Their tendency to insist on parental authority over children is highly inconvenient to the State. The virtues of independence and self-reliance associated with old-fashioned ideals of manhood are incompatible with collectivism. The accumulated wealth and property a married couple can pass along to their children reduces their need for government dependency. Fathers generally are not charmed by the image of their 15-year-old daughters learning how to use S&M gear. There’s not much for a liberal to celebrate on Father’s Day, especially since this celebration of honorable manhood tends to be interpreted by hyper-sensitive left-wing culture as damaging to its preferred narratives about the perpetual victimization of women, and the wholesale effort to erase gender differences completely. See what I mean about all of these ideas being connected?
The importance of aspiring to an ideal is a victim of these social engineering schemes. All this stuff about sexualizing children is premised on the idea that their urges cannot possibly be controlled, and it’s unreasonable to expect them to conduct themselves with any degree of chastity until they truly understand both the importance and difficulty of long-term commitment. The rejection of these ideals becomes explicit when the sexy-kids crowd sneers at efforts to teach the virtue of abstinence to children. This is nothing less than the blind fury of an adolescent culture snapping at suggestions that it should grow the hell up.
When the line between adolescence and adulthood is erased, there is no growing up to be done, which suits the adults who wish to remain childlike, but wreaks horrendous damage upon children who are never given ideas of manhood and womanhood to reach for. The devaluation of marriage – regarded, according to polls, by many of the new generation as a quaint pastime to indulge at the end of their adult lives, after they’ve had children – is a direct result of the way fatherhood, motherhood, and childhood have been manipulated and re-defined for decades. It’s all one story, with several tightly connected chapters, and not enough happy endings.
It’s no surprise that some people seriously think we should do away with the symbolic holiday dedicated to fathers, or remodel it to fit into the fashionable neuroses of our dominant culture. The War on Husbands is, inevitably, part of the War on Wives, but the latter engagement is where ultimate victory lies, for those who despise the culture of our grandparents. Women and their children pay a disproportionate share of the price when marriage, adulthood, and childhood are re-defined. Men who find the traditional burdens of fidelity, responsibility, and manhood a burden will get along much better. Attacking manhood is a politically correct flanking maneuver for assaulting motherhood, and both of those offensives are vital to the long-term strategy of telling children they can’t be innocent any more, but they never really have to grow up. Fortunately, America is blessed with plenty of wise and loyal fathers who reject all of that, and will fight it to the bitter end. They need reinforcements.