NORMAN — Last week was Father’s Day. We know that from the calendar, the lines at restaurants and the holiday sales at Best Buy.
But the rest of the year, fatherhood is shrinking in significance. I’m not just talking about physical absence — a third of American kids now live without their biological fathers — I’m talking about perceived importance. More and more, fathers are being viewed as less than necessary.
A 2010 study concluded that children of lesbian parents fared just as well — if not better — than those from a traditional man-woman marriage. A 2013 book stated “the notion that fathering is essential to children’s ... development seems to be a uniquely American preoccupation.”
And take this recent exchange on “The View,” an ABC show with a massive female audience. A guest host, an actor named Terry Crews, had floated the idea that “there are some things only a father can give you.” He was deluged by objection — both on social media and on the set.
When he said, “A father gives you your name,” co-host Whoopi Goldberg joked, “Like in ‘The Lion King?’” When he said “a father gives you your security” and “your confidence,” co-host Jenny McCarthy, who is raising a son on her own, shot back, “I’m a single mother and I guarantee you, I can give (my son) all those things.”
The debate went on for several minutes at a high volume, with the female hosts paying homage to widows, single moms and gay couples, and McCarthy hammering at the idea that her “amazing” son needs no man.
And while I know the show is not scientific, it’s entertainment, it still got me thinking how far we have come, that on network TV, a man suggesting “there are some things only a father can give you” is greeted not with agreeing nods but with cannon fire.