That was the question posed by Dr. Michael Kimmel at the Dad 2.0 Summit in San Francisco last year.
The instant answer is: “Of course, yes. Dads are male, males are men, dads are men.” But if you peel back layers of the onion, you’ll appreciate why Kimmel felt the need to ask the question in the first place. Kimmel is a distinguished professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at Stony Brook University, where he directs the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities.
Back in the day, with the old school Marlboro Man-era rules of masculinity, men did not partake in “sissy” stuff. For a dad to be a man, he brought home the paycheque, was sturdy in crisis, and gave ’em hell when times got tough.
But that is no longer real life.
“It’s a false ideology that will not adequately prepare you to be the fathers and partners you want to be,” Kimmel argued. The current generation of fathers, and the millennials coming behind us, already take for granted they’ll be involved dads. We assume it. We expect it.
“This is not Mars or Venus. This is planet Earth, where women and men are both parents. Being an involved father is synonymous with being a real man,” Kimmel explained.
Dads in 2016 stay home with their kids. Dads in 2016 cook meals and buy groceries. Dads in 2016 organize playdates, do crafts, and wait in line at school drop off and pick up. Dads in 2016 put on fairy wings, get their toes painted, and have tea parties with their daughters. Dads in 2016 are just as much of a man as dads in 1956. I’d argue, in fact, that by stepping into the family and engaging with our kids, we’re more manly than any generation before us.
Welcome to 2016, friends, here’s 7 dads who are showing what it means to be a man and changing the face of fatherhood.
Kenny Bodanis is a writer from Montreal championing the cause of participatory fatherhood right from the beginning. His book, “What Do I Do While You’re Pregnant?”, was originally titled, “Men Get Pregnant Too”. So many books are targeted at women during pregnancy, or are joke-filled gags about the male side of the equation. Bodanis’ book and website explore how terrifying and overwhelming it is for BOTH parents to become responsible for a baby for the first time.
Yannick Vincente is a French artist and single dad. The graffiti artist turned children’s book artist draws uplifting moments between himself and his five-year-old girl. “My daughter means the world to me and I put my whole heart into any illustration that she happens to be in,” he told Upworthy. “I had to evolve my work to match my passion.”
Dan Gibson is a father of one-year-old triplets. And a toddler. The Kitchener, Ontario, musician went viral this year when he posted a video of himself changing all the kids at once. His family blog, The Baby Gang, shows that when you’re outnumbered that badly by the babies in your life, it’s all hands on deck. No matter who is running the change table, things can run amok. Dads may do it differently, but we’re still in there, rolling up our sleeves.
Chris Routly is a Canadian author, illustrator, and stay-at-home dad to two boys now living in Portland, Oregon. Oh, and he’s also President of the National At-Home Dad Network. Yes, there is such a thing, and they have conferences too, where they get together and talk about challenges they face, promoting their space in the family unit, and supporting each other. You might have seen a T-shirt that Chris designed going viral recently.
Doyin Richards made waves two years ago after sending a picture of himself to his wife doing his daughter’s hair, while his other infant daughter was strapped to his chest. Since going viral, Doyin has taken his message of involved fatherhood and written two books. His first, Daddy Doin’ Work: Empowering Mothers to Evolve Fatherhood, tackled the notion of dads not measuring up and moms not letting go head on. His second, I Wonder, is a picture book celebrating Daddies Doin’ Work. “Sometimes it’s not ‘mom’s way’ or even the ‘right way’, but it’s *their way* and everything dads do is always rooted in love.”
Dads wear babies too at Groovaroo Dance in San Diego, where a baby wearing line-dancing class was opened to fathers, and look who showed up. The guys learned an I’m Too Sexy routine in one class, got some exercise, some baby bonding time, and totally owned manhood the entire time. Then they came back and learned a routine to Play That Funky Music.
— Josh Levs (@JoshLevs) May 17, 2016
We hear ‘man up’ often as a rallying cry for males to do something tough, stand up against injustice, and find inner strength to go against the odds. Conventional wisdom and vintage stereotypes have painted parenting as a “woman’s job”. The above examples are but a few instances of dads reinterpreting ‘manning up’: taking control of their role in their respective families. It’s inspiring.
Are dads men?
Yes, as a matter of fact we are, and this new era of manhood and fatherhood is bringing with it a very bright future for our sons and daughters.