By Rob Okun
Thursday, June 16, 2011
With all the sensationalist sex scandals engulfing high-profile men in recent weeks, Rob Okun says Father's Day offers a chance to celebrate the men who aren't getting so much notice, but are quietly upholding their end of things.
Why not cry? It is in our tears and fears that men rediscover our full humanity. It takes courage for men to express our vulnerability rather than our anger. But doing so opens us up to being labeled a mama's boy or some other put-down. So we go the other way--dominating others, often women, to try and nourish our sad inner lives. The result? Operating from below our waists rather than from within our hearts.
Most people empathized with the betrayal Maria Shriver felt when former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger admitted he fathered a child a decade ago. We identified with the wife of former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner, who finally confessed he'd sent those photographs over Twitter.
What does it say about some men that they risk their careers, reputations and marriages for a roll in the hay, real or virtual? What insecurities are at play? What pressures are they experiencing? What feelings are they trying to keep at bay?
We can season our outrage with a dollop of compassion and invite men who feel--and act--differently to stop being bystanders, to clearly articulate a different definition of manhood, demanding it have its day in the national conversation about men.
For eons society has condoned Men Behaving Badly Syndrome.
But for the men who have rejected its main ingredients--privilege and entitlement--it is time to end our silence. A society that celebrates the stud more than the dad reaps what it sows. Fatherhood may not be sexy but it sure is real, awakening in men a capacity to access our highest angels--from cultivating empathy and patience to practicing sacrifice and humility. Not every man has to become a father to personally dig deep, but for many it has proven to be the doorway to growing up.
For too long, Father's Day has been a caricature of a holiday. So sure, fire up the barbecue if you like, but let's also use it to ignite a campaign to reclaim manhood.
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Rob Okun is the editor of Voice Male magazine in Amherst, Mass. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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