To employ the ultimate understatement, it has been interesting.
No matter in what setting we find ourselves, no matter what life hands us, we can make that setting or situation our study. It can become our classroom, if not a journey, for learning. Having supervised 20 or more women for a decade, my own journey necessarily led me to study women.
OK, I know this is treading dangerous ground where nameless ambushers await, but somebody must do it. But first, ask my oldest sister who is 88, my teenage granddaughters or any of my female colleagues if they think I am chauvinistic or “anti-woman.” On second thought, there are one or two of my female colleagues whom I hope you don’t ask.
The reason someone must broach the subject is that today many voices are denying the need of fatherhood as well as the very reality of sex differences. Feminist Gloria Steinem once called research on sex differences “anti-American.” On an ABC News Special called “Men, Women, and the Sex Difference,” Steinem claimed research on sex differences “is what’s keeping us down.”
Attorney Gloria Allred (bet we all know of her; what male public figure has she not brought suit against?) on the same news show said, “Talk about sex differences is harmful to our daughters’ lives, and I’m very angry about it.”
One could say Steinem and Allred have at least half a point. Why indeed do research on sex differences when those differences stand right before our eyes already, each and every day? Ask any 10 women if they had rather get up and go to work every morning or stay home with their children. Ask them if they would rather be kindergarten teachers or airplane mechanics. Observe 10 boys to see if they are more interested than girls in dollhouses.
True scientific methodology requires that we observe, record, theorize and test.
Four observations are recorded below. I will leave it to readers to theorize and test. In offering the observations, I do not argue that biology is destiny, but that it is darn good statistical probability. I wish to provoke thought more than to win an argument. The observations are over-simplifications, but not distortions. And they will either gladden, maddenvor sadden.
Observation 1: Women are more expressive than men. Not more talkative, but more demonstrative. They use their hands and facial expressions more. In this area, on the whole, men resemble toads.
Observation 2: Women are more nurturing. Androgyny, that great enemy of femininity and masculinity, says men and women should be equally nurturing.
Reality says men can never be equal to women in nurturing, but this doesn’t mean men can’t be good fathers or that they wouldn’t give their lives for their wives or children.
Observation 3: Women are less prone to violence. Gangs and violence are primarily the domain of males. As a teacher, I broke up only one girl fight and too many boy fights to count. (Truthfully, the girl fight was bloody; the boy fights weren’t.)
Observation 4: Women are less physical than men. Yes, there are women wrestlers and boxers, but how many women are NFL quarterbacks? How many could survive as one?
It is the denial of realities such as these that touch the very issue of fatherhood, certainly of masculinity. Where and how often do we hear anyone in the entertainment or literary world praising fatherhood or masculinity? Certainly not on TV sitcoms where Dad is usually a doofus.
Just as Newsweek declared “We’re all socialists now,” Vanity Fair Magazine may soon proclaim, “We’re All Sexless Now.” But dissident feminist Camille Paglia begs to differ. Unlike most feminists, she defends men and fathers: “It is a male society that has freed me as a woman. Let’s stop being small-minded about men and acknowledge what treasures they have poured into our culture.”
All of those women I have known (except maybe two) think as Paglia does. No wonder their sons have turned out so well. No wonder their husbands are good fathers.
One of America’s most urgent social problems is fatherhood, and the problem is directly tied to the sexual suicide that is seeping into our collective psyche.
More than ever before, we need faithful, attentive fathers. We also need more challengers of such destructive notions as “a genderless society” that is fostered mainly by entertainers, writers and academics.
Father’s Day is a good time to reflect on that need.
Roger Hines is a retired high school English teacher in Kennesaw.