Post #87: You See!

Shaking My Head

??????????????????????????????????????????So, you know how last entry I was talking about that new magazine Kindling Quarterly and about perceptions of men and fatherhood and how they’re represented and perpetuated in the culture and how it all kind of pisses me off?

This morning, I took my kids to the dentist. We had  a near flawless experience, thank you for asking. My kids were so good they took a picture of them before we left and hung it on the wall below a plaque that read: BE MORE LIKE THESE BOYS. However, one moment stood out negatively and is the reason I’m sitting here ranting. My 4 1/2 year old got his first x-rays today. He sat there like a champ, chomped down on that razor sharp negative thing they make you bite on that cuts up for gums and everything. You know the one? He didn’t flinch. Just took it and was motionless with that heavy lead jacket on. I was beaming. No joke. As a reward, the hygienist, who was super nice I might add, maybe even the nicest hygienist I’ve ever seen, gave him a sticker for his good effort. She offered to put the sticker in his “goodie” bag, already stuffed with new tooth brush, floss, and toothpaste. He said, no, that he wanted to keep it in his pocket. “Okay,” the hygienist said, “just make sure to tell your mom later so it doesn’t go through the wash.”

Mom. The wash. Get it?

I was so incensed that I temporarily lost control of my body. I tripped her, then laughed as she went sprawling to the carpet, then stood over her Ali over Liston style, shouting “I do laundry too, goddammnit.”

Actually I did what everyone does, ignored it and smiled.

I know what you’re thinking. Shut up entitled white man of privilege. The world is built entirely to honor and protect your dominance so deal with the tiny silly assumption on her part that the kid’s mom is the one who does the laundry. Maybe the men she knows don’t do laundry or something. But still!

Why do these things bother me so much? Am I the only guy out there who notices things like this and gets annoyed?

What’s even more troubling to think about is this: Do I do that to other people? In fact, it’s not even really do I do that to other people? It’s when and how often do I do that to other people? And who do I do it to? Women? Gays? People of color? How often do I let slip a small little pice of bias that irks someone and sends them running back to their computer to blog about it?

While I ponder that, I’m going to go fold laundry. Seriously, I am.

Post #86: Kindling Quarterly

Parenting, Things You Should Be Reading

kindling-quarterly-issue1-preview-1As a father of two young boys (4 1/2 year old Felix and 2 1/2 year old Leo) I pay a lot more attention than I used to to how fathers are portrayed in our culture. And, for the most part, at least from where I’m sitting, the portrayals suck and are a pantheon of one note men who don’t know how to behave and who are basically grown up children masquerading as men who think that farting is high humor and scoff at vacuums and toilet brushes. These are your Tim from Home Improvement kind of guys. These are the guys in Old School and The 50 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up and on the sitcom Guys with Kids. Guys whose naiveté and reliance on masculine puffery/buffoonery and female intuition is supposed to be cute. On occasion, you see far more nuanced and life like fathers, but most that I bump into fit the mold described above. Men who need women to remind them about really complex and hard to figure out stuff like, you know, cleaning windows and making a roast chicken, morality and table manners. Not that all stereotypes are unfounded and unfunny. Some ring true some of the time. There’s pervasive truths about gender that do truly seem to trump interpretation. But I work hard to deliberately smear and ignore gender lines in my own home. And I like cleaning and cooking. I pay actual attention to my children and care a great deal about how they see me. I want to define manhood and fatherhood on my own terms. I don’t want my sons to feel burdened by gender-centric expectations and images the culture feeds them about what boys and men are supposed to be like, especially when the bulk of those portrayals are so embarrassing and limited. And straight. And white.

Enter Kindling Quarterly, a new magazine published by a pair of fathers, David Michael Perez and August Heffner, who seem fed up with the same thing that I am. The newly launched magazine is an exploration of fatherhood and features articles, photos, fashion, recipes, and a host of other content. Full disclosure here that I haven’t read the magazine yet and am not purporting here to review its content. But I heard about it and was intrigued enough to do a little digging. Have a look at the website and read a little about it. It sure sounds cool and looks nice, even if the photo spreads and design are a little hipster looking for my taste. In fact, the whole thing looks like it might be taking itself a little too seriously. But maybe that’s what’s needed. In the “About” section of Kindling Quarterly’s website, they state, “men who are active caregivers are not a novelty and we do not depict them as such” and that’s a sentiment that rings awfully true in these ears. I’m going to pick up the first issue soon and let you know if it justifies it’s hefty $12 price tag.

Until then, The New York Times City Room Blog wrote a pretty decent feature on the magazine. Read it here.