Man babies are made not born. Just like sexist pigs. Neither lands on earth fully formed. It takes years of cultivation. Careful sowing and regular watering.
Dads are the farmers. Oh, they’re enabled by the womenfolk who watch from the kitchen window, wipe their hands on their aprons, and fret silently to themselves. But the making of man babies and sexist pigs, well, that’s a man’s job.
Boys learn how to respond to life’s insults and how to cope with women who frustrate them from their fathers. And it’s not what their fathers tell them. It’s what their fathers do.
And that’s a burden for anyone, to be watched day in and day out, to have those little ears in the backseat at every wrong turn and each flat tire. It is tough to have such persistent witnesses to life’s adult messes, to hear the clicking of their small forks on plates, their little fear of the grown-ups’ anger, their dads’ anger. Because, you know, moms’ anger is worrisome but dads’ anger can be lethal.
And my amateur psychology degree tells me that, after a while, a little boy growing up hearing his dad swear at the world and humiliate his mother begins to follow his dad’s example because to follow his mother’s would make him weak and fearful and he doesn’t want that so he joins up with his dad, maybe not obviously, maybe he still defends his mother, but in his heart and head, the cells that will make him a man baby and a sexist pig are multiplying and spreading but they won’t really bloom into full red light until the boy is a man and a father and then he will do everything he was taught.
And then, he will have an apprentice.
Photo: Jason Rosewell