“Towards a Discussion of Male Self-Hatred,” revised from the version that I posted here some time ago, is now up at The Good Men Project. The post begins by responding to a passage in Roger Rosenblatt’s Kayak Morning:
Rosenblatt’s book explores his grief at the untimely death of his own daughter, Amy, and this passage, in the form of a short-hand literary analysis, mourns the relationship he had with her — one that, for him, was clearly about a kind of truth-telling that only happens between men and women when the possibility of romance does not exist. Rosenblatt’s grief is his own, and I would not presume to suggest that his relationship with his daughter was anything other than what he says it was. His assertion, however, that the father-daughter pairing is a “good choice for writers” because it allows us to deal with issues between the sexes solely in terms of feelings and thoughts, without the messiness of romance, gave me serious pause. It’s not that I think he has mischaracterized the father-daughter relationships in the works that he cites — it’s been long enough since I read any of them that I simply do not remember — but rather that, in a male dominant culture, and we still live in such a culture whether we like it or not, the father-daughter relationship is never only about feelings and thoughts. The daughter’s body and how she uses it — in sex, in marriage — and how that reflects on the father as a man, on his reputation and the reputation of his family, is always already contested ground.
The rest of the piece is a meditation on what that contest is really about. I hope you will head on over and give it a read.