Tony Woodlief, the father of three boys, has an opinion about whom we should honor on Father’s Day:
“I think Father’s Day ought not to be a celebration of every man who managed to procreate, but instead a time to honor those increasingly rare men who are actually good at fathering. But what makes a good father?”
The (apparently) mild-mannered Mr. Woodlief is not the sort to kill rattle snakes with his bare hands:
“Many academics would consider my lack of manliness a good thing. They regard boys as thugs-in-training, caught up in a patriarchal society that demeans women. In the 1990s the American Association of University Women (among others) positioned boys as the enemies of female progress (something Christina Hoff Sommers exposed in her book, “The War Against Boys”). But the latest trend is to depict boys as themselves victims of a testosterone-infected culture. In their book “Raising Cain,” for example, the child psychologists Don Kindlon and Michael Thompson warn parents against a “culture of cruelty” among boys. Forget math, science and throwing a ball, they suggest–what your boy most needs to learn is emotional literacy.
“But I can’t shake the sense that boys are supposed to become manly. Rather than neutering their aggression, confidence and desire for danger, we should channel these instincts into honor, gentlemanliness and courage. Instead of inculcating timidity in our sons, it seems wiser to train them to face down bullies, which by necessity means teaching them how to throw a good uppercut. In his book ‘Manliness,’ Harvey Mansfield writes that a person manifesting this quality ‘not only knows what justice requires, but he acts on his knowledge, making and executing the decision that the rest of us trembled even to define.’ You can’t build a civilization and defend it against barbarians, fascists and playground bullies, in other words, with a nation of Phil Donahues.’