By: Maxine Macias
To explore fatherhood, we must first look at patriarchy. Patriarchy doesn’t negatively affect men or women alone, but society as a whole. Institutions, religious, and family systems operate mainly on patriarchy.
This was evident in the 1950’s portrayal of family structures. You have the father, who obviously is the head of household and the working man and his supportive housewife who stayed home and performed her domestic duties. She was submissive, and didn’t tend to have much presence besides serving her husband.
This was an early example of the gender roles created by patriarchy.
Gender roles are harmful to society because of their way of imprisoning people psychologically, making people feel the need to fill a certain role in order to conform to society’s expectations.
Gender roles were given to everyone the minute they entered the face of the earth.
The silly notion that girls must wear pink or boys must wear blue are gender roles being assigned.
And parents and schools are constant reminders of one should behave based on gender.
Girls are taught to talk about their feelings and while boys are taught to be tough and strong. While boys are taught to repress their feelings, but violence however tends to be acceptable.
The ironic thing about fatherhood and patriarchy is it’s similarity in the relationship between a child and parent. According to psychotherapist, John Bradshaw, “blind obedience- is the foundation upon which patriarchy stands; the repression of all emotions except fear; the destruction of individual will power; and the repression of thinking whenever it departs from the authority figure’s way of thinking.”
In the 1950’s onto the 1960’s the father was portrayed idealistically, as all-knowing, almost godlike, providing wisdom and instilling discipline in their children.
However, in the 60’s and 70’s, the American Feminist Movement raged on demanding an end to gender discrimination in the workplace. The quest for women’s liberation did not stop in the workplace but also in women’s personal lives. They wanted to overthrow the patriarchy that oppressed many aspects of their lives. They believed that “personal was politics.”
This change in gender roles began to show itself in television shows in the 80’s as men were becoming more involved in the household and women were portrayed as having more of a stronger personality and working outside of the household. The new trend of clueless, imperfect yet lovable fathers emerged.
Fathers were shown as being more submissive to their wives or taking on what would stereotypically have been a mother’s responsibilities.
In addition to the changing of gender roles, racial diversity was becoming more prominent. While most popular shows featured Caucasian families, slowly, African American characters and families were being shown starting in the late 70’s. It wasn’t until the late 80’s and early 90’s that black families became common in mainstream television.
It wasn’t until late 90’s or early 2000’s that other minority and interracial families were being represented in mainstream television.