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Is we men to blame


ANOTHER Father’s Day passed last Sunday, with the customary muted celebrations, and globally Most celebrations of this nature are confined to the family, though socially, there has been in recent years more recognition of Father’s Day in our society. In addition, there has been a commercialization of the day, not on the same scale as Mother’s Day, but nevertheless, businesses seeing how they could profit from it, while making fathers happy with gifts of one sort or the other.

Ironically, that same commercialization brought responses from some fathers, complaining of the nature of gifts being advertised; (one father noted that it seems like they advertising gifts to get fathers to do more work around the home). Some were griping how Father’s Day is not treated on the same level of the comparable one for mothers, but is that not to be expected? Who is to blame for this?

We can’t eat our cake and then still have it. FATHER is the operative word here, and it is the failure of WE MEN in this regard which has caused the problem. In Caribbean history, in addition to the general gender bias, the historical background of slavery could only have produced a failure to acknowledge the serious responsibility of fatherhood, in the absence of the family as an institution for the enslaved.

That lack of responsibility has filtered all the way down to modern society, with many women forced to have to go to court just to get “minding”, as we say, for their children. It is as though fatherhood is a sexual function, not a social one. If that is the attitude we accept socially, then we really should not complain.

All is not lost, however, or is everything in a negative light. More and more we are seeing signs which were not so noticeable in the past: that of young fathers walking out their daughters and even taking them to sporting activities formerly very ‘macho’, such as taking them to football matches. In fact, more than not so noticeable in the past, I dare say that it was almost unthinkable. Yes, today we have grandfathers like me, doing to their grandchildren what we didn’t do as young fathers. As the late comedian Saluche would say, “We got to clap fo’ dat”.

But many of the old attitudes still persist in our society, rooted in our attitudes towards our women and, by extension, family affairs. We still behave as though it is women who are to blame for bringing babies into this world; thus it is on them that the burden of proof must rest, and they who must shoulder the principal lifelong weight of caring for the children. Most young women are impregnated because of sexual intercourse with men older than them, yet we still behave as though it is their fault.

So, if we continue to harbour these backward and socially negative views, how can we, men, complain of Father’s Day not being given full recognition, if we do not address these failings of ours? It is not our women to blame for this state of affairs; IS WE MEN TO BLAME

Renwick Rose is a community activist and social commentator.