For almost 15 years it has been raining men in my workplace. Having been in the sex industry since 2005 I have laid eyes on enough men to know that it does not take a good one to have a family.
The term ‘Family Man’ sits across the table from ‘House Wife’. They each have a role to play within the family, as well as a dynamic between the two of them as partners, and as parents. An expectation of traditionally appropriate thoughts, feelings and behaviours is applied to each of these individuals through the use of these terms.
On Monday morning I woke to the news that Family Man Senate candidate Steve Dickson was filmed groping a dancer in a Washington DC strip club. More than the groping itself, my brain exploded over the term Family Man. It enraged me to note, once again, a friendly colloquialism being employed in the defence of a lecherous misogynist who has been caught out doing something creepy, or plain old, from paddock-to-plate wrong. In the case of Steve Dickson, I would question some of the lessons being taught to the children of this Family Man. Either directly or by osmosis.
I got to thinking, what does it take to be a Family Man…? What are the bare minimum steps one must take to get there? Can any man be a Family Man? I knew I had to crack the code and solve the mystery of the Man before I got out of bed. Before I could even put my thinking cap on I had made a comprehensive and practical list.
- Unprotected coitus resulting in pregnancy of sexual partner.
- Have one or more kids.
- Coparent kids while occupying the same house.
In the list above there is a lack of personality traits that describe what kind of human being it takes to raise a family in a responsible, healthy way. All the qualities we were taught as kids to nurture and carry forward with us in our dealings with others. Things like kindness, strength, honesty, integrity, intelligence, reason, courage, patience, respect, and love are missing. Technically they are not compulsory in theory or universal in practice.
‘Family Man‘ when used in defence of inappropriate and abusive behaviour is fundamentally negligent. The term does not dilly dally with the specifics. No time to lose, it throws a blanket on the burning man, suppressing the details and allowing him to be inferred with a myriad of positive attributes that he does not deserve credit for. It subtly plants the idea that the terrible behaviour definitely happened when the guy got caught out, but not necessarily any other time…. The term allows our thoughts taper off into this comfortable logic so we can wash our hands of adjusting our own behaviour accordingly.
Do you really think that he only acted like that, the one time that he happened to be called to account?
Why are we repeatedly asked to disregard the moral delinquency of men? To throw the ideological Family Man at us is manipulative, particularly when the man has demonstrated abusive behaviour. We are being asked to put him first. “Think of what will happen to his family if you take him away? Keep the wife and kids out of this, they haven’t done anything wrong. Is it really worth breaking up the guy’s family?“
Perhaps the questions we should be asking are more along the lines of, “Is this man a healthy role model for his children? Is this man’s family suffering due to his demonstrated **insert offence here? Does this behaviour carry on into the family space?” Needless to say, domestic violence and abuse occurs within the home, and if any of these abusive men have children, then they are by definition, a Family Man.
Words have meaning. It would benefit all of us to pay more attention to them.
Although less beguiling than Family Man, Man Baby is truer to form. Putting a man in a strip club is an easy way to determine his substance. Nothing catapults the baby out of the man like the word “No” and a perceived right to have whatever he wants, whether it is attached to a woman or not.
Time to apply relevant terms to people who are purportedly pillars of our society. Looking forward to the revised headline that reads “Man Baby Senate candidate Steve Dickson was filmed groping a dancer in a Washington DC strip club.”
* If you would like to read more, click on Family Man as it appears each time in this post. Every link will take you to an article on various fathers and husbands showing us examples of what it takes to be one.
** The footage available may be triggering, to women in general but particularly to sex workers and any woman who has been harrassed or assaulted in a public environment.