In my personal research of what masculinity is, the utter cultural vagueness and ambiguity annoy the dickens out of me. What it means to be a man has evolved and devolved like an ebb and flow of an ocean as societies and time have come and gone. There does not seem to be a solid definition that the past generations and the present day societies could use as a plumbline of what it means to be a man. I have been pondering this seemingly bottomless pit of a topic for some time now, and I have begun to realize how much each person's view on masculinity was and is being shaped by the father figures in one's life.
In the process of writing and researching for this article, I was skimming over a dissertation on "Understanding masculinity: The role of father-son interaction on men's perceptions of manhood" By: Clyde J. Remmo, Jr. (Link) This dissertation profoundly resonated with me as he explores the fact that the relationship between a man and a child is merely an act of teaching the one to copy the other. It could also be looked at like the expectation of the father to teach a child to ride a bike. It is a cultural expectation that the sons are to be developed as men by the father figures in their lives. This lead me to wonder where would masculinity be if fathers did not exist?
I think a good place to start finding out where masculinity would be without fathers is what impact on children, in general, would there be if they did not have a father present in their lives.
"Studies have shown that children in America living in homes without fathers are 5 times more likely to live in poverty than children who live with both their mother and their father. Fatherless children are also 2 to 3 times more likely to develop an emotional or behavioral problem requiring psychiatric treatment. Studies have shown that children who grow up without fathers also are more likely to commit crime, and do poorer in school. Perhaps most tragically of all, children who grow up fatherless also are more likely to commit suicide than those who grow up in a home with both their mother and father."
--Capital Youth Empowerment Program (Link)--
"Since the end of Second World War there has been increasing interest by governments and social commentators in the effects of the absent father on the development of those within the remaining family unit. As a result thousands of studies have since been conducted. These studies have repeatedly uncovered a staggering array of issues inflicted particularly on the children of father absent households.
Interestingly it has been shown that the affects of emotionally unavailable fathers were almost identical to those where the father was physically absent.
Theeffects covered everything from physical differences (i.e. the quickened development into and through puberty of children raised with no father present) through to many and varied social and physiological issues.
The summary of issues listed below, in noway covers every aspect of father absence however it is still a powerful indictment to the current social epidemic.
In reference to the general population individuals raised inan absent father environment demonstrate;
1. 5 times the average suicide rate:
2. Dramatically increased rates of depression and anxiety:
3. 32 times the average rate of incarceration:
4. Decreased education levels and increased drop-out rates:
5. Consistently lower average income levels:
6. Lower job security:
7. Increased rates of divorce and relationship issues:
8. Substantially increased rates of substance abuse: and
9. Increases in social and mental behavioral issues:"
--The Father Code (Link)--
You could spend so much time reading articles and opinions on what the adverse effects are of fatherlessness, and I encourage you to do it. I became sick to my stomach in reading the massive amount of information that is on this topic and the negative effects it is having on society.
I think what I personally have come to conclude is that with the deterioration of fathers in society so will the deterioration of masculinity occur. It would be fascinating to know what the perception of a man would be in a culture that has absolutely no fathers. It seems as though this article has taken a hypothetical turn but I just have no other way to express my inquisitive nature towards this topic.
What effect on masculinity do you think fatherlessness would have? Where is masculinity learned? Why does masculinity matter? These are questions I want to find out. I hope you join me in the process.