When did Father’s Day, that annual celebration of bland socks and Bunnings vouchers, get political?
Life must be pretty good if you’re worrying that a day which has been set aside by the community to honour our dads is insensitive to parents who aren’t male.
A self-styled academic took to the airwaves last week to argue Father’s Day needed to be renamed “Special Person’s Day”. This is so kids in families who choose not to have dads can feel included.
At the same time an advertisement celebrating fatherhood was pulled from commercial television because it contained “political content” and needed to be recut to include the “spoken and authorised by” part just like ads from the Labor or Liberal parties.
The advertisement was of a father singing a lullaby to his child with vision of dads with their families. Nothing more.
But no, too political.
Meanwhile, university arts students learn about “toxic masculinity”, which is defined as the characteristics of men which are damaging to themselves and society, such as dominance, self-reliance, and competition (that’s from a recent Washington Post article called ‘Sexist men have psychological problems’).
On Father’s Day in the United States controversial comic Lena Dunham wrote on social media: “You don’t need a father – so many families work so many ways – but if you have one he better werk [sic].”
Of course Father’s Day, just like many of our dads, is not perfect. Yes, the day has become too commercial. Yes, there are some fathers who should not be celebrated at all. But the tradition is ancient.
Catholics have celebrated something like Father’s Day since the middle ages.
But our Father’s Day custom was first celebrated in the 20th Century after a mine disaster in the United States killed 361 men in 1907. 250 of those who died were dads and they left behind about 1000 fatherless children.
A year after the disaster, a church service was held in honour of those men who lost their lives providing for their families.
And the tradition continued.
So let’s leave the politics out of what should be a day of simple and heartfelt appreciation for our dads.