Father's Day – The Marks of Patriarchy

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By JOSÉ MACHADO MOITA NETO*

It seems that in every generation parents face the Machiavelli dilemma of choosing to be loved or feared.

For this commercial date, even the capitalist system would like to remove the marks of patriarchy, as Father's Day sales are far from equal with Mother's Day. Any attempt to analyze the commercial phenomenon, from any angle desired or imagined, by any of the available sciences or techniques, will arrive at causes that directly or indirectly point to patriarchy and the marks it left in our culture.

Not everyone can reconstruct a paternal genealogy and this is a mark of machismo consented by the patriarchy. In the death certificate of Trajano de Alcântara Moita I found the name of his father: Manoel Coelho Moita. Among his children's names is that of my grandfather, the eldest by his first marriage, aged 52 at the time. The youngest daughter of the second marriage, in this death record, was only 10 years old when Trajano died. Therefore, my great-grandfather Trajano had a very long career as a father by the standards of the time, with 20 children on this death certificate.

Trajano wanted to be a father different from Manoel, José wanted to be a father different from Trajano, Edson wanted to be a father different from José, José Neto wanted to be a father different from Edson. All succeeded and, at the same time, failed in this project. It is very difficult to identify and fight against the new forms of patriarchy to know exactly where and how it has become embedded in our souls, in our lives. Perhaps this is the essence of the verses of a Canção de Melchior (Like our parents):

My pain is realizing
That even though we did
Everything, everything, everything, everything, everything, everything we've done
We are still the same and we live
We are still the same and we live
We are still the same and we live
like our parents

It seems that parents in every generation face the Machiavelli dilemma of choosing to be loved or feared. It is a fate of patriarchy that needs to be broken. Mothers want to be loved and fathers today are distributed among those who want to be loved, feared or just to be absent. On average, perhaps, with each new generation, parents are also less feared and a little more loved. At the end of patriarchy, Father's Day and Mother's Day will have the same commercial weight, but perhaps both will have less importance than Pet's Day or anything that commercially surpasses these dates.

 When nostalgia for a father who has already left hits, music at that table, composed by Sérgio Bittencourt in a posthumous homage to Jacob do Bandolim (his father), seems to express how memory is more lucid and wiser than that of history. Each child remembers the father's presence at home as a memorable moment, without a mandolin or stories told, but with a longing for what might have happened, even for a day, during their coexistence.

Each father's story is very particular, experienced differently by each child. As a teacher, accustomed to evaluating, I can assign grades to fatherhood by stages of life: Dad was in grade seven for a long time, while I depended on him financially. After that time, his grade was raised to eight. When I became a father, I raised your grade. But the highest note he reached after death. The longing, the emptiness, the orphanhood of an adult brings to memory virtues that had not been computed before.

On me I have all the heavy heritage of patriarchy, a unique way of being, having and power that distinguishes me from an affectionate mother. I want to change and when I do, more things are required of this new man (father or not) to harbor in his heart all the identities in the world that differ from the heavy burden of patriarchy. Despite personal failures as a father, I have already been announced the gift of this special day. So far, I think I've gotten a low rating as a parent, but an approving one. I have no hope of reaching a 10, not even after death, but the tranquility of today is enough for me to feel more loved than feared.

*José Machado Moita Neto is a retired professor at the Federal University of Piauí (UFPI) and a researcher at UFDPar.


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