Friday, August 11, 2006

Big Media Roundup

It's nice to see that dads haven't been completely ignored by some of our larger newspapers, magazines and websites -- this week has provided quite the range of pieces, some sublime, some jaw-droppingly dumb.

Let's start with the New York Times, which ran a piece on how a women used animal training techniques to train her husband. This is a weird piece to run in the NYT. It's generally offensive to men (the undertone: we're so simple that we can be treated like Shamu) and it's not particularly novel (the BBC has an entire TV show on training husbands like dogs). What exactly was the point? Relationship humor? Can't the nation's most powerful paper do better than that?

Time magazine was a little more thoughtful. Po Bronson (making his second RD appearance this week) and Ashley Merryman wrote a piece for Time on "gatekeeper" moms and how that affects involved fatherhood. That gatekeeping is one of the elephants in the room when it comes to talking about active dads and is certainly worth more discussion. I haven't written much about it, but I'm sure I'll return to the topic.

Finally, Slate ran a piece in praise of the 16-year-old how-to-be-a-man tome, Iron John. But the author's take on the book itself was less important than his observation that no one is talking -- in real terms, without machismo or ideological ranting -- about how to be a man in the new millennium:
Irony, and the fear of ridicule, have, in a way, made any serious discussion of men's emotional lives impossible. This new repressiveness turns up all kinds of unexpected results: not just polemics like Flanagan's and Mansfield's, but "iconoclastic" arguments in favor of male stoicism, like the one Malcolm Gladwell recently made in an essay praising The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. And the result is that we still lack a basic vocabulary for, say, the experience of a stay-at-home father, or the difference (from a man's point of view) between flirtation and harassment at work. If we don't find a way of emulating Bly's generosity of spirit and willingness to risk truth-telling, we're going to remain stuck with recycled arguments and archetypes, lacking a language that applies to our own era.
Have a great weekend.


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