The world I live in is uncomfortable with single mothers and unmarried women. Our very existence is fretted over in articles with words like “alarming” and “worse for children“. Presidential candidates blame us for gun violence, which is impressive since we commit almost none of it.
This world wants me to marry a man. It tells me so in platitudes and catch phrases. The one that tripped me up was always “a boy needs a father”. I could dispute the idea that children in general needed a male parent based on my fatherless childhood. But what did I know about being a boy?
I wasn’t a boy, just a girl who wanted to learn “boy things”. At nine I referred to myself as “the man of the house” because I was responsible for tools and pest control. My mom and I built every coffee table and end table in the house from flat-pack boxes and took pride in our work. I know the basics of auto maintenance and when the time comes I’ll be able to teach my son how to chsnge his own oil and put on a spare tire using a tire iron and a jack.
So really, what couldn’t I teach my son? After twenty years of dating guys, good and bad and in between, and ten years dating as a mother, I have to ask myself what my son really learned. What could he only learn from a man? I suspect the answer is toxic masculinity. That’s what it takes a man to teach a boy.
The Geek Feminism Wiki defines toxic masculinity as “the socially-constructed attitudes that describe the masculine gender role as violent, unemotional, sexually aggressive, and so forth.”
It’s going to rage as the first emotional response to every minor disappointment in a video game. It’s snapping at a boy child to “man up” and stop crying when they are hurting. It’s yelling to make your smaller female partner back down because you can’t be wrong without it being a threat to your entire sense of self.
That’s the only thing I can come up with that men can teach children better than women. If I had known that from the start, I don’t think I would have believed or agreed that boys need fathers. And I would not have tried to find one for my son.