I read recently that Father's Day didn't become a national holiday until 1972. Mother's Day, on the other hand, was established in 1914. Why the long gap? Much (and somewhat not) to my surprise, the pushback
was against the very demographic the holiday wished to celebrate. Despite the value holidays like Father's Day represents to many families, and consumerism, it can be a prime time to discuss what "father" and "family" mean to the general public. The term "father" itself connotes a biological connection that is rooted in concepts of bloodline, dominance, and a certain type
of masculinity. In the media, we are introduced to father figures as exemplars for education and life lessons.
In my own life, my father served as this kind of influence, although he served these life lessons gently with a side of emotional intelligence. I remember a time when one of my school friends said she thought my dad looked “kinda mean.” Personally, I chalk it up to the look of a tortured artist. He isn’t Mr. Smiley by a long shot. He may look coarse, but he is an incredibly sensitive and dutiful father. But it doesn't mean he never gets angry. Though, being the most accessible masculine figure in my life, he never bombarded me with any toxic aggression. It distinguished him from other dads and men I encountered. His was the only masculine energy in our household, yet he defied the usual masculine types, something I am proud to write here. I recall many times when my dad would say that he couldn’t relate to many cisgender men. It got me thinking, where do we go to see positive masculinity? Are these spaces readily accessible? In Moonlight (2016)
, father figures, and their representation, embody how positive relationships can exist within the duality of masculine and feminine traits.
The first time I really saw the depths of masculinity being explored was in Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight
. Specifically, one centering on Black cisgender men. Thinking about the history around racialized masculinity, Black men are thoroughly dehumanized while white men are venerated. Birth of a Nation
is an example of using Black men to propagate the notion of villainy and who needed to rise to violently subjugate them