Gender and the Law Prof Blog

Editor: Tracy A. Thomas
University of Akron School of Law

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Parody Father

I have read about seventy percent of Martin Amis's sublime memoir (his fiction, alas, is unreadable to me), and came upon a phrase that I cannot banish from my mind.  Amis, like his writer father Kingsley, had abandoned his wife and his children for another woman.  He does make the pained and obligatory visits to his sons.  And he feels the hatred and inconsolable sadness in his young sons' eyes.  Amis writes, "I was the parody father." 

Parody father.

That phrase, so succinct and evocative, has stuck with me the entire week, and I cannot quell in my mind its insistent demand for attention, and perhaps elaboration.  (Don't all men feel like some parody of manhood at some point?  Aren't we all sort of parodying it some of the time, as fathers, husbands, male buddies, and men generally?)

"Parody" (Oxford English Dictionary): "In extended use:  a poor or feeble imitation of something; a travesty."

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I don’t think there is anything unique to men in this situation – we all play roles, like the perfect mother or the good enough parent. The mom here didn’t get a chance to question or test her roles, right?, as she was stuck with the obligation of caregiving and managing the aftermath of the father’s abdication. At some point, it’s just not all about us as individuals. There are systemic needs of dependency and caregiving that someone has to do.

Posted by: TT | Oct 2, 2013 7:22:23 AM

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