Today is Father’s Day in the UK.
Father’s Day comes with its own issues. One of my main complaints is the cards. Oh my goodness. If you weren’t already having a crisis of masculinity, this is the day where you would question your identity. It is near impossible to find a card that isn’t navy featuring beer and sports in some way. There are jokes about being a “taxi” or “bank”. There are DIY tools and slippers galore. A day where sexism that can be nicely packaged in an envelope, with “Dad” scribbled on the front. No, thank you. To be honest, I find it pretty patronising and a little bit sad. Mother’s Day cards aren’t much better, featuring a whole lot of pink, flowers and quotes about kindness.
I understand that with the gender revolution, masculinity and what being a “man” is, can be a little confusing. We are, however, slowly seeing social media campaigns about encouraging men to open up, be honest about their feelings and trying to elimate damaging phrases such as “man up”. This is only the beginning of a complex journey to gender equality – for everyone.
My own beliefs about gender is that it is fluid. Every human has the capacity to express varying degrees of masculinity and feminity. How you identify and labels you do or do not choose, is up to you.
On Father’s Day in my family, we normally go for lunch or do something low-key where my sister and I can spend some quality time with our dad. I know that Father’s Day can evoke a lot of emotions for people. Dads who have passed, are absent or perhaps haven’t built good relationships with their children. Sometimes, Father’s Day is for mums who have done parenthood alone. Some families have no fathers at all. Families come in many shapes and sizes, with no “model” superior or inferior than another. It’s important to remember that.
This day makes me very grateful to have my dad, who in my opinion (of course I am biased), is a great example of what a “father” should be like. He works hard, is kind and thoughtful, works as a team with my mum in a true partnership and he’s funny, really funny. He is a feminist ally and is always educating himself on various issues; but he will also put these into practice and is keen to share what he’s learnt. For example, at his work, he initiated a change in their assessment forms for clients to make it more inclusive. He did this by adapting a question about gender to “How do you identify”, rather than “are you male or female”. He is emotionally available and is truly interested and invested in his family’s lives. He also, very importantly, never tries to be the know-it-all-alpha-male.
In a lot of ways, he demonstrates what I think the future of masculinity will be, should be. So, I am more than happy to celebrate this day with him, he really deserves it.