On Minimization as a Patriarchal Reflex

Minimization As a Patriarchal Reflex

Image: A chinstrap for children, designed by Moritz Schreber. Illustration from: D.G.M. Schreber: Calligraphy. Leipzig, 1858

 

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On Facebook, I posted a brief note about starting to learn what is painfully obvious to women: patriarchy inflicts the stress of constant bodily vigilance at best and acute terror at worse.

The post took off and the comments were stunning. So many stood out, like those that reported on strategies for increasing safety in taxis. One commenter wrote that she always video-chats with a friend while she’s alone in an Uber, dropping details that signal to the driver that someone knows where they are. If men don’t know about this kind of defensive labour, they’ve got to learn.

One genre of comments sent me down a real rabbit hole. The commenter would start with congratulations about my sensitivity to this kind of thing, because the commenter commonly interacts with men who simply think they’re irrational, neurotic, angry or bitter.

But I could feel instantly that such a compliment was undeserved, because I know in my bones what minimizing the other feels like. Continue reading “On Minimization as a Patriarchal Reflex”

Mindfulness for Fathers: Louis CK is Wrong About Boredom

In support of a new book I’m co-writing with Michael Stone about the spirituality of family life. Follow the link to support and pre-order.

I have an ambivalence crush on Louis CK. He plays the brave and humiliating role of exposing the swinging sweaty balls of the cultural id. But this doesn’t make him the spiritual teacher so many want him to be, especially if we forget that he’s playing a caricature.

Continue reading “Mindfulness for Fathers: Louis CK is Wrong About Boredom”

Mindfulness for Fathers: Five Difficult Feelings We Can Learn to Love

In support of a new book I’m co-writing with Michael Stone about the spirituality of family life. Follow the link to support and pre-order.   

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It’s a tall order for many men to even acknowledge difficult feelings. But love them? That’s just going too far. But of course, going farther and loving deeper than you knew you could is what fatherhood, and life, demands.

Parenting is painted through with great strokes of perfectly natural sorrow. You can only pretend to fight it. Much better to look at it carefully, to see its colours clearly, feel its textures. What else could be at the root of empathy and compassion? What else would give you the gravitas you’ll need to be a person of consequence in later life? What else would you even aspire to? Our strange luck is that there are at least five inevitable sorrows that soften us as fathers, even as they strengthen us. Their lessons extrapolate well to the rest of life. Continue reading “Mindfulness for Fathers: Five Difficult Feelings We Can Learn to Love”

Excerpt from Family Wakes Us Up: the first post-natal letter

A letter from  Family Wakes Us Up, my new book with Michael Stone.

There’s only one week left in our crowdfunding campaign to support its completion and publication.

You can support us by pre-ordering here!

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10/29/12

Dear Michael –

The clock says 4:37, my flesh says stay awake forever – you can’t miss any of this. My eyes are burning with bright exhaustion. He’s nursing and sleeping well, but it feels like I’m going through my own birth, and the labour has taken this whole nine days so far. Whenever I think I’m settling in for complete silence, I hear him breathe like another person within me, someone I have forgotten until now, someone coming in a dream, but no dream has ever pulsed so hot. Continue reading “Excerpt from Family Wakes Us Up: the first post-natal letter”

Mindfulness for Fathers: Giving Your Child Secret Space

A post in support of Family Wakes Us Up, a book I’m co-writing with Michael Stone. Please support the publication by donating here. Thank you!

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Our son Jacob is thirteen months. From dawn till dusk he treads the threshold between the togetherness we share with him and the secret space he is beginning to find in himself. At this age – all ages pass so quickly! – the contrast between the two is most visible in his relationship to books. Continue reading “Mindfulness for Fathers: Giving Your Child Secret Space”