TAKES a feminist to ask, "What is a man?"
And not just any feminist, but Berkeley's Rebecca Walker,
daughter of well-known writer Alice Walker.
it isn't really surprising that a woman whose previous anthology,
"To Be Real: Telling the Truth and Changing the Face
of Feminism," a standard text in women's studies courses,
would dare ask why men are being robbed of their softer
editor of "What Makes a Man: 22 Writers Imagine the
Future" (Riverhead Books, $24.95), Walker says men
are taught from childhood to avoid emotion, be in control,
define themselves by money and work and never cry. She says
these cultural lessons result in men who don't know who
they are, only who they are supposed to be.
her anthology of essays, Walker invites writers to look
at demilitarizing men. "I absolutely asked them to
write about 'putting down the gun,'" says Walker.
editor brings together talented writers such as Michael
Datcher, David Coates, Bruce Stockler and Douglas Rushkoff.
"The Gift," Datcher talks about his wedding gift
to his wife -- a year of financial support while she finishes
her novel. Datcher's story is filled with married-life humor
and his struggle with the resentment that unexpectedly accompanies
his gift. Datcher's friend counsels him to be patient and
in the end, Datcher discovers that giving and forgiving
make him a husband.
writers including Martha Southgate, Rachel Lehmann-Haupt,
Ruth Bettelheim and Walker also provide perspectives on
a mother, Southgate listens to her heart when her tiny son
adds girl's clothing to his outfits in "My Girlish
Boy." The author's son outgrows this, but Southgate
says the experience forces her to pay attention to the way
society defines men and encourages her to let go of her
own ideas about boys and girls.
feels socialization has its place, but says our culture
asks kids to deny parts of their humanity. "I hope
that my children are able to grow up free," says Walker.
Father's Day, two newly released practical parenting books
encourage men to free themselves from traditional boundaries
and connect with their children from the beginning.
dads, don't lose any sleep -- at least not over the how-to's
of caring for your baby. Authors Gary Greenberg and Jeannie
Hayden offer a step-by-step guide to the first challenging
year in "Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New
Dads" (Simon and Schuster, $11.95). Drawings by Hayden
how to bathe your baby and what different cries mean. Learn
to baby-proof your home, deal with teething and pack a masculine-looking
diaper bag. Learn about finger foods, restaurant outings
and mothers' post-baby moods.
new baby may turn your life upside down, but Greenberg and
Hayden's coping methods are both practical and humorous,
so take heart. You have only 17 more years to go.
of time is the focus of Stephan B. Poulter's book, "Father
Your Son: How to Become the Father You've Always Wanted
to Be" (McGraw-Hill, $14.95). Poulter encourages fathers
to create an emotional connection with their sons by spending
time together. Whether this means reading favorite books,
playing video games, catching a movie or just listening,
time together helps sons grow up healthy.
reminds dads that sons of all ages need their father's approval
and that daughters who have good relationships with their
dads grow up confident and hopeful.
can e-mail Kathleen Grant Geib at firstname.lastname@example.org
or call (925) 416-4812.