This chapter examines fatherhood. It shows that, while biology makes fathers dispensable, society carves out particular roles for them. These roles are shaped by history and circumstance, yet in a sense the problem for every society is the same. If men are to feel involved with (or at least responsible for) their children, they must be impressed by a sense of indispensability: they must feel necessary. Our industrialised culture achieves this end via a logic of economic dependence: women and children must be supported by men. The logic is reinforced by an appeal to a set of ideas about the nature of both men and family life. A proper man fathers children, who are then visible confirmation of his sexual and social normality. A proper family is made up of a male and female parent and their children. Looked at another way, the problem for men is how to share the experience.
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