Category Archives: fatherhood

99 Problems

Hats off to Dr. Boyce Watkins for his commentary on Jay-Z banning b$tch from his linguistic repertoire. The decision came after the birth of Jay and Beyonce’s daughter Blue Ivy. The rapper has received well-deserved criticism regarding his decision and he should. However, virtually nothing was said a few years ago when Hov rapped “when the Jena 6 don’t exist…thats when I’ll stop sayin’ bitch…BITCH!!!” (from “Say Hello” on American Gangsta). Hov takes an aggressively masculine tone, separating gender from racial oppression. His view of race is decidedly masculine with little, if any, investment in black women. I don’t like that it took one of my favorite rappers this long to get his act together. Nor do I like that it took his daughter being born for him to make the decision. At the end of the day, though, I’m glad that Blue Ivy inspired Jay to change. For any parents reading this, I’m sure that the birth of your little one(s) made you think twice about your values too, right?

What concerns me more than Jay’s actions are the millions of fans that buy (or download) his music while blindly accepting the warped gender dynamics reinforced in his songs. These are the people who, on a daily basis, are presented with opportunities to shift the power dynamics that Daddy Hov fears his daughter will have to confront.

Facebookers (myself included) are “liking” Prof. Watkins’ post as if doing so delivers a death blow to gender oppression. Newsflash!!! It doesn’t. And that means we have work to do. Gender oppression extends far beyond saying b&%@! As I climb off my soapbox, please indulge me by educating yourself on gender oppression and gender equality. Here are a few websites and videos to get you started:

Stop Street Harassment

Men Can Stop Rape

Stop Sexist Remarks

Miss Representation (2011)

Then put this newly-acquired knowledge into practice! Look for groups/organizations in your area that fight gender oppression. If one doesn’t exist, start one. There are also online initiatives that you can get involved in. You can contribute to a blog and spread awareness online. You can create art that educates us on this issue. You can create an app that supports gender justice. The possibilities are endless!

It is easy to sit back and critique Jay-Z without being self-reflexive. However, we perpetuate and/or survive gender oppression every…single…day. Now is the time to change the game. What are you going to do?

D. Carter

Happy’s Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s Day! I’m not going to write up anything long or in-depth. I just wanted to send a thanks out to all of the men in our community and around the world you have been positive and healthy role models and mentors for the partners, children and friends in their lives. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the love and support of my father. I still seek him out when I need advice or support. I couldn’t have asked for a better father or friend. Take a look at The Good Men’s Project photo essay below titled “What does ‘Dad’ mean to you?”

If you haven’t got enough father stuff today and you’re feeling up for a good cry, check out a post from last year called Days with My Father by Phillip Toledano.

Dad’s Poem

Check out the video below of Abe Becker performing his powerful piece, Dad’s Poem, for the Men’s Story Project. I love me some Men’s Story Project and I am always moved by their brilliance and passion. I hope that more of us can get behind their mission. To strengthen social norms that support healthy masculinities and gender equality, and to help eliminate gender-based violence, homophobia and other oppressions that are intertwined with masculinities, through ongoing events of men´s public story-sharing and community dialogue.

Iowa MAN website launched!

After much hard work by the folks over at the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ICADV) and Iowa MAN members, the official Iowa MAN website launched. The website looks great. The most important thing about this event is that it signifies a statewide effort to engage men about the issues related to eliminating violence and creating safer communities.

Below are Iowa MAN’s vision and mission:


We envision a community where men are actively engaged in confronting men’s violence against women and girls and all its forms, and where all members of society are engaged in promoting healthy, peaceful, and respectful relationships.


As an organization, we will eliminate men’s violence against women and girls by pursuing knowledge from those most affected by it.  As a call to action, we will work to inspire all men of Iowa to partner with women to promote healthy and respectful relationships in their homes, neighborhoods, and the community, to model peaceful and respectful behaviors with each other, and to empower our youth with similar tools and skills necessary to live and expect a lifestyle free from abuse.

You can visit the Iowa Men’s Action Network website here.

A Single Man’s Adoption Story

Brian Tessier wrote a  powerful and heartfelt piece for The Good Men Project about his process of trying to adopt a child as a single man. His passion and drive to become a father helped him navigate the extremely frustrating and complicated adoption system, which has been notoriously difficult for everyone, especially single men. Brian’s description of his love and devotion to his sons brought tears to my eyes. We should be removing the roadblocks for individuals who have demonstrated their dedication and commitment to being parents.

Brian did what any advocate does when faced with injustice. He created change. Not only does he serve as an example for others, but he also serves as a resource. He created We Hear the Children, a nonprofit dedicated to advocacy and support for children’s causes related to adoption, diversity, and education. You can contact them at 1-855-411-4323 and at The service is staffed by single adoptive fathers who serve as a resource and advocate for single men who want to adopt but don’t know where to start.

Below is my favorite quote from the article. You can read the entire piece here.

There are very few positive images of single dads—most of the ones we hear about are divorced and only see their kids on the weekends. Moreover, you rarely hear guys talk about the emotional side of being a father—as though it’s not masculine to do so. Then there’s the feeling some guys have of waiting too long and being too old to start a family. But these are all total misconceptions—and I’m proof of that.

A Call to Men

Check out the powerful video below from Tony Porter speaking at TED. I saw Tony speak at a CALCASA Training institute this summer in Las Vegas, but didn’t get a chance to hear some of the stories he tells in this video. As some of you may know, Tony is the cofounder of the national group A Call to Men who strive to engage men in actively ending violence against women through examining unhealthy and healthy aspects of masculinity. Click here to visit Tony’s page on TED’s website.


100 ways to be a good father

I appreciate the bystander intervention model that we use at the Men’s Anti-Violence Council because instead of focusing on what you shouldn’t do, it actually teaches bystanders skills to intervene and be helpful. I believe that teaching people what to do is often more engaging and beneficial than simply listing all of the things that they should avoid.

That is one of the many reasons that I love the list Derek Markham posted over at The Good Men Project on 100 Ways To Be a Good Father. What a great list of things that you can actually do to be a positive role model and create a meaningful relationship with your children and partner. I won’t reproduce the entire list. Click the link for that. However, I’ve listed some of my favorites are below:

  • Laugh at yourself. Regularly.
  • Teach a new dad what you’ve learned so far.
  • Once in a while, ask your kids what you can do better. Then do it better.
  • Hugs and kisses are golden. Be generous.
  • Remember that everyone is someone’s child.
  • Unplug the TV and pretend it’s broken once in a while. Or hide it.
  • Get down on their level and try to see things as they do. Chances are, you’ve forgotten what it’s like.
  • Remember, they’re never too old for piggyback rides.
  • Stand up for the weak, the oppressed, the underdog.

You don’t have to be a father to be a positive role model. Behave as if you have an audience, because you probably do. Be active and vocal about important issues. Change doesn’t happen when good people remain silent. Refuse to “mind your own business.” Would you want someone treating or talking about a member of your family like that?

Days With My Fathers

No words. Just take a look at this site.

(Once you’re on the site, click at the bottom of the page or scroll down to get to the next picture and story)

How to be a man?

A clip went out over the Society for the Psychological Study of Men and Masculinity listserv the other day. It is a video by Levni Yilmaz from his YouTube channel Tales of Mere Existence. I had never seen any of Yilmaz’s material before and was really impressed by the quality and content of the clips. He has a great style that involves deadpan humor mixed with existential issues. I found several clips that would be great discussion starters when working with or teaching about men’s issues and masculinities. Of the few clips I have watched, Yilmaz addressed being a boyfriend, the evolution of his relationship with his father, the grief and loss that follows a breakup, how he learned about girls, and messages about masculinity.

The particular clip that went out over the listserv was his How to be a man? clip below. Two lines from the clip that struck me are:

  • A real should be able to close one eye, look at the position of the sun and be able to tell you what time it is
  • So far being a man doesn’t feel much different from being an old kid

Click Read More for more clips from Tales of Mere Existence and a brief exercise about societal definitions about masculinity.

Continue reading

International paternity leave and implications for the US

For nearly 18 months, I woke up at 4 a.m. with my all-too-alert toddler son. Three hours later, when my Swedish wife left for the day, I would set out a second breakfast and then dress the boy and his 4-year-old sister and walk them to her state-subsidized preschool…I am not unemployed, and I am not a stay-at-home dad. I’ve got a “real” job; I just haven’t gone to the office since last December. In total, I’ve spent 18 of the past 36 months on paternity leave here in Sweden, my adopted country, “off” work to care for my two kids. And, yes, I still get paid.

That’s the beginning to an article written by Nathan Hegedus, published in The Slate, last week about his experience with Swedish paternity leave. Take a look at the article. It is a great firsthand account of how families in Sweden are directly impacted by their extensive family leave system.

Click Read More to learn about Sweden’s amazing family leave system, what it looks like in other countries, and what implications this has for the US.


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