Kudos to Courageous Columnist Kathleen Parker
Two of my favorite female pundits are Kathleen Parker and Maureen Dowd. Both write syndicated columns for major American newspapers and speak from a woman’s perspective on contemporary social and political issues.
I enjoy reading them because they are both informed, generally reliable (on the facts), rhetorically pleasing (clear, crisp, provocative), and courageous.
More often than not I agree with Dowd on political issues and disagree with her on social issues and especially gender issues (other than the need for total equality of women and men). More often than not I disagree with Parker on political issues and agree with her on social issues and especially gender issues.
Parker writes for the Washington Post (and her columns are syndicated to numerous newspapers) and is generally conservative (even though she has been quite critical of what she regards as an extreme rightward tilt of the Republican party). She frequently writes about men and clearly disagrees with those who argue that men are not necessary. She is not beloved by many feminists.
One of her recent columns is about President Obama’s failure to speak out publicly about the importance of fathers. (The column’s title in the Post was “America’s reluctant first father.”) Of course, as she notes, the president has created a task force to promote fatherhood. Her complaint is that he could do so much more to promote it.
Parker dares to say what many are afraid to say publicly: Children raised in single parent homes, whether the missing parent be a mother or a father, tend to be at a disadvantage. She highlights the plight of a Hispanic scholar at the University of Texas (Lino Graglia) who is under attack for saying that “blacks and Hispanics are falling behind in education because they tend to come from single-parent families.” That is, to many contemporary people in higher education “pure blasphemy.”
The shocking statistic is that approximately 70 percent of African-American kids are born out of wedlock. Parker dares to say that “They are disadvantaged by neighborhoods and a community culture often bereft of healthy male role models.” About the president she says if he “uttered these words, they would be embraced as irrefutable truths.”
Over the years Parker has stood up for men without defending patriarchy. In 2008 her book Save the Males: Why Men Matter Why Women Should Care was published. She has been an outspoken advocate for good men, good fathers, good male role models and for boys. She does not presume that all men are good; she simply advocates for society to highlight and value the accomplishments of men and especially the importance of fathers.
I have watched in vain, however, for any word from Parker about men’s health. I would like for her (I’m turning the tables on her now) to speak out (as she says the president should) about the need for society (the media, the medical community, the government) to promote health among men. The vast majority of gender-specific health studies and public service commercials are aimed at women while men continue to die, on average, younger than women. The U.S. government includes an Office for Women’s Health but not one for men’s health. There’s inequality. (Yes, yes, I know all the arguments for it, but after twenty-some years I think balance has been achieved and it’s time to have greater equality in this area.) And when was the last time anyone saw a public service announcement aimed at men to promote men’s health? They are rare compared to the constant barrage of public service announcements about women’s health.