Tuesday, November 21, 2006

How the Sun Rose

Early morning. Liko goes to the window and sees the light spilling over Mt. Diablo.

"What are you doing, Liko?"

"The sun. I want to hold it."

"What will you do with the sun?"

"Put it in the sky."

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

God vs. Stay-at-Home Dads

God hates stay-at-home dads:

Men and women were created by God for specific roles and when men start giving up their responsibility to be the primary provider for their household, they’re falling short of the goal. Men should be out there doing whatever it takes to insure that mom can spend as much time as possible with her family because she is uniquely equipped by God for the role of managing the household and the kids on a daily basis.

No evidence offered, Scriptural or otherwise. Surprised? Probably not.

And evangelical Christians wonder why they've become so marginal to mainstream discourse.

Actually, most of this post is spent pushing an idea that I agree with:

Turn down that promotion. Give up some money. Do what it takes to be there for your family. People speak of quality time, but I remember that any time I spent with my dad was cool. Even if he just took me to the bar with him so that he could drink. Hey, we were still hanging out together.

Do they even allow kids in bars? That aside, it's interesting to explore the common ground that progressives might have with evangelicals on family issues, which are normally seen as divisive. Might we work together to win more family-friendly workplace policies?

In other news, the Ottawa Citizen covers a new book, Do Men Mother?, by Carleton University professor Andrea Doucet:

Many fathers who opt to stay home with their children do so as a fallback when they need a career change or are seeking a break from work, according to new Canadian research.

And once they are at home with their children, they are likely to combine paid work with child-rearing and offset the time at home with an eye to an eventual return to work rather than immerse themselves in the social world of parenthood.

The author of a new book about fathering says men’s reality is at such a remove from the conventional image that she wonders whether the term “stay-at-home dad” is even relevant anymore.

“So many do keep a hand in the labour market, whether through a bit of part-time work or through some studying/retraining, because so much of male identity is tied to earning or achieving or simply doing something apart from caregiving,” said Andrea Doucet, author of Do Men Mother?

“I think that men do not face the same fatherload because they do carve out time for themselves, even when they are at home with the kids. Perhaps there are some interesting things that we can learn from men.”

Her book, which is the result of four years of conversations with men who are primary caregivers for their children, charts the many differences in the way men and women view stay-at-home parenting, from their motivations for doing it to the way they shape their at-home experiences.

The article includes an excerpt from the book. I'll definitely be reading Do Men Mother?; I'll review here when I do.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

rad dad # 5 out now


This is tomas from rad dad and rad dad #5 is hot off the copy machine with a beautiful cover once again by local artist and crafty card creator artnoose. It has essays that deal with radicalism and parenting, the follies of fatherhood, playground politics, and single fatherhood…

It's three dollars plus postage (63 cents) and issues 3 and 4 are still available while they last.

And as always I’m looking for submissions for the next issue of rad dad. I was thinking about how fathers deal with separation and divorce or how discipline is connected to the father role or even a whole issue on bad dads and the failures we face…as well as pieces that deal with sexism, gender, pop culture, relationships; feel free to just send something in.

I'm hoping to get the submissions by early march and it will be available march 18th.

Hope everyone's well…

tomas moniz
1636 Fairview st
Berkeley ca 94703

Friday, November 10, 2006

Queer vs. Queer

Still working on my "Science vs. Parents" post. In the meantime, see this essay in the Bay Times about the impact of the "Gayby boom". Writes Dr. Rick Loftus:

KGO anchor Pete Wilson's idiotic remark calling the birth of Supervisor Bevan Dufty and his friend Rebecca Goldfader's baby Sidney a "travesty" resulted in a firestorm which brought the reality of gay parenting into sharp public focus. Once, parenthood might have seemed to gay men like an exotic tourist destination across the ocean... More and more, however, gay men are snapping up real estate and putting down roots on the "Father Shore." According to the Urban Institute, between 1990 and 2000, the percent of gay male households including at least one child had quadrupled, from 5% to 20%...

What's striking to me is how invisible these men often remain in our community. Until I started doctoring them, I had no idea how many gay men in San Francisco were parenting. Some would say the absence of gay parents from gay culture isn't an accident that "gay parent" is an oxymoron, that the two worlds collide. And Pete Wilson is hardly the only person to suggest gay life and parenthood are incompatible. An April 2006 story in the Los Angeles Times, for example, illustrated the tensions resulting from the increased presence of families with children in the Castro. Concerned over how the street's racy storefront displays might affect their kids, parents - straight and gay - complained to the city. Traditional gay activists countered that there's only one neighborhood in all the world with as unabashed an embrace of gay sex as the Castro, and if parents - straight or gay - don't like it, well, they can live elsewhere.

I live on Castro St. at the Noe Valley/Castro border, and I confess that I've started to wonder how I really feel about Liko seeing posters of men in bondage getup, striking provocatively explicit poses - which, as Loftus notes, is a dilemma that unites gay and straight parents. (I'm actually curious if readers, especially older parents with a bit more perspective, have any thoughts on the issue.) Loftus continues:

What does all this mean for the cultures of gay men in San Francsico and the world-at-large? To my mind, it’s a welcome annex to the ever-expanding Winchester Mystery House of queer life-paths. I also see it challenging assumptions about gay culture, both by enemies external to our communities, but also by those within LGBT cultures. Recent efforts on behalf of gay marriage, for example, have uncovered rifts in our ranks, as radicals worry advocacy for presumably monogamous LGBT marriages may neglect, even undermine, queers with less “conventional” lifestyles. Some may see queers who choose parenting and family paths as “sell-outs” betraying “true” LGBT culture.

Of course that’s ridiculous, and provincial. When you consider that the Castro twenty years ago had taken on the icy pall of a ghost town due to AIDS, its present-day rejuvenation—including the patter of a few tiny feet—is a sign of resilience. What could be a better symbol of hope in the face of so much death, than the smattering of baby carriages and snugglies now spotted amongst the next generation of gay men walking its streets?

Well, it'll be interesting to see how the Castro - and queer families - will evolve over the next several years, and what differences and what common ground they'll find with straight families, both traditional and non-traditional.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Nature vs. Nature

News flash: "Women’s Math Performance Affected by Theories on Sex Differences," according U. of British Columbia researchers.

I'm working up to a nice big blog post on sex differences, science, and social responses. Later this week? See you then.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Hormones vs. Meteors

Things have been slow here at Daddy Dialectic: I've started a new job; Chip's been traveling; I'm willing to bet that Tom and Chris, both teachers, are preoccupied with school. But here are some more links to keep you busy and amused:

1) I ran across this sort of goofy post on the happiness and anxiety of being a stay-at-home dad. You can just hear the hormones racing around inside this guy's head (I've been there), but he raises some serious issues about what happens to your confidence and direction when you opt out of the work force.

2) Speaking of hormones, Popular Science reports that, "though men do seem to be getting better at playing stay-at-home dad, they still can’t claim to be the best fathers in the animal kingdom. Among primates, that honor may belong to marmosets, small tree-dwelling monkeys whose males spend 70 percent of their time caring for newborns. The result of all this baby time, according to new research, adds up to more than just a sensitive monkey. The nurturing actually boosts mental activity."

Good for the marmosets. But does daddyhood make human guys smarter? I can say without any doubt in my enfeebled mind that I've gotten worse at many cognitive tasks; the other day I forgot how to do long division. However, I also feel very strongly that I've become more emotionally and socially intelligent. It's been instructive for me to see toddlers grow personalities; it's helped me realize how precious and unique each of us is, which makes me much smarter about how other people are feeling.

3) Smartmom posted a right-on critique of the film Little Children and its relationship to reality. I've blogged before about the absurdity of stay-at-home moms and dads getting it on together, which I've gleaned is a common fear/fantasy about the impact of stay-at-home dads on the playground.

"When Smartmom’s pal Tofutta had a massive crush on a stay-at-home dad she met at Tots-on-the-Go," writes Smartmom, "she barely had enough time to go to the bathroom, let alone plan an afternoon interlude." So true. Go-to-work spouses: you have nothing to fear, really. Your stay-at-home partner is more likely to get struck by a meteor than have a torrid affair with Patrick Wilson.

Last but not least, an election is coming. Don't forget to vote! And don't forget to get a friend to vote!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

i don't know -- an intro from rad dad #5 out in mid november

Note: as the essay says I am hoping to travel around the bay area -- sf, san jose, santa cruz, sacto, santa rosa, and the east bay -- in December to do some readings with another zine writer, artnoose who does kerbloom!, and hopefully with other parents/writers (hint, hint) so if you are interested in helping make it happen or can suggest a place to contact for a reading or even something cool to do with my kids in your part of town, please let me know. And of course rad dad #5 is 3 bucks and will be out in mid November…

I was tabling at the sf zine fair and I forgot how much I enjoy talking to people, especially strangers, talking about parenting, about politics and teaching, talking about just about anything. I shoulda been a sales person even though it is true I hate the limelight and how everyone comes up and says, “so you're a rad dad huh?” But here at the zine fair, it was just kinda fun and silly. My daughter was sitting with me and I always threw the question to her.

“Well, he tries to be.” She laughs and says, “No, he is.”

But more than selling, more than getting cool stuff, more than meeting cool people, I realized how much we need to talk to each other about our lives, our choices and their implications. I realized how many people wanted to ask me things when I put myself out there. Like these two bgirls (to use my youngest daughters term for gender blenders) looking at my zines, picking each one up, seeing my story on vasectomies. One simply looks at me and smiles and states: “So what, you can’t cum anymore?”

I stared not sure what to do.

“You know,” she continues, “because you got it cut.”

“No,” I smile, ”I can.”

“Oh, it’s just clear or something?”

“No, it's just the same.”

And as we were debating this I realized there are three other people listening and snickering, and I think I’ve turned a bright red, and my daughter has suddenly moved four tables away. The bgirl laughs and says “Really, I just wondered if that makes you not a father anymore?"

I appreciated the honesty, the frankness and go on to say something about not being able to impregnate someone makes me no less a father than when my kids aren’t with me.

“So what makes a father?”

“I don’t quite know but take one and then write me back and you tell me.”

And it went on like this; people wanted to talk: the mom holding an infant laughing at my rad dad business cards chuckles, “How does changing diapers challenge patriarchy?”

“I’m not sure, but there’s gotta be a connection right? I mean if more men did it and more men stayed home and more men respected breasting feeding and more…”

Or the dyke couple who asked about how parenting reinforces gender roles because they were thinking of adopting.

I just shrugged and said that it’s certainly changed my notions of gender but I don’t know and I asked what they thought and gave them a rad dad and asked them to let us all know what they came up with.

Or the woman who empathized with my struggle to deal openly with my son about smoking pot. She proudly boasts that she and her husband smoke pot everyday and they have a 10 year old. She paused and then asked what I thought she should talk to him about. Don’t ask me I joke because my son can’t seem to get enough and I struggle with how to handle it, how to keep the lines of communication open without totally condoning it, while my partner worries he’s becoming an addict. I just don’t know, but I thank her for talking with me, for sharing with me because it feels good to know other people are out there, struggling to make the right choices. And someone out there might know something we all need to hear, might have an experience that sheds light on some of these questions.

Because there are so many questions that I don’t know answers to.

But one thing I do know is that we need community; I know how invigorated I was, inspired by so many people wanting to talk about fathering, about parenting, about being parent allies! I want more community, so I am setting out right now to say publicly: I wanna create a radical parents conference. I imagine something like ladyfest where parents get together in the locations and create a meeting of people who realize that parenting is a key component to so many of the struggles we all face to change this world, to create and nurture the world we want to be a part of and the world we wish to leave behind. As for the conference, I don’t know what that means, I don’t know what it looks like or what it should be about, but I do know there are hella cool moms and dads out in the world that I wanna sit around with and talk to, be inspired by, get angry with. So help me. Write back; start something up. If you’ve already done some work, keep it up and tell me how I can help.

As for me, in December I wanna go around northern California to read a bit from rad dad and to meet other parents out there. Then in April my daughter and I will hit the road for a tour of the northwest with artnoose, an amazing friend and artist. If you know a place to read at, to meet with other parents, a place to crash, a museum or park to go to, let me know!