This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm
March 13th, 2006

Dad is a Dork

Blame it on the fact I watched more televison over the past couple of weeks while recovering from my bout with Prednisone and it's side effects.

Have you noticed the television programs and commercials where the dad, husband, male figures are just dumber than dumb? Men don't have a clue and even the young children have to bail him out? Or the wife has to explain everything as if the male didn't get any education and has no sense of what is going on. He couldn't possibly hold a job - he's too dumb.

It's everywhere. If you haven't noticed it, you've really missed something important going on in the American culture. Men are stupid and women know everything.

I don't know about you personally, or what your relationships with your dad or grandfather were, but when I was a kid I truly believed my dad could do anything and fix everything. On top of that he was the handsomest man I had ever seen. I absolutely adored him. He fished, he hunted and so did I.

By the time I was in high school, I had discovered that my dad had severe warts. No, not physically, he just was a very flawed person. In fact, since I was an only child without siblings to relate to, what we actually had was quite a dysfunctional family. I didn't know that, as a child, and it probably would not have changed who I am today. But that image of 'dad can do anything,' and forgive me, that 'Father Knows Best,' is part of the culture I grew up in.

Father Knows Best was a very popular television program in the 50's, there were more, Ozzie and Harriet, and others I've forgotten.

The point is the male figure was the dominate person in any family. In my dad's house there were rules. Some a bit strange in today's world. I was not allowed to wear pants, and never shorts to the dinner table. We were not a wealthy family, there were just some things a lady did not do. Yes, I was a lady-in-training. You would hardly know that today.

I give that as an example, because whatever it was is gone.

Dad's was the final voice. You did what he said. You did not question his authority - or why he set whatever rules. And heaven forbid you did something wrong, that one was "just wait until your father gets home."

If there was something important I needed to talk to dad about, it was always after dinner when he was relaxed and had a full stomach. Oh yes, that included asking for money since I didn't have an allowance. And I had to explain what I was going to do with the money. Give an accounting.

Dad ruled the roost.

Sure, times have changed and our whole society has dumped - or rejected - lots of things which those of us who are older remember with a sense of loss.

Yes, opportunities for women have really improved. I believe any woman can do and be anything she chooses. And mostly the pay status for women is the same as men. But does that mean women are really somehow superior? I'd settle for equal.

If the television programs and commercials all deride men, show them as bumbling, inept, and just stupid, what does that say to the youth growing up?

Who does that leave as a role model? The movie stars? The so-called sports figures?

Do you think the kids today can sort out the agenda of the television programers? Or those who sell the commercials we see?

Kids tend to believe what they see on televison as 'reality' - and in fact a survey done a while back asking kids under 12 if a program (such as Law and Order) or the evening news program were 'real.' The kids could not discern the difference.

And top that with the fact that kids see so much violence and sex they think it is reality. It is how life really is. They are numbed. How scarey is that?

So who is the role model for the family? It's not dad. Mom? Chances are unless she was raised in a family which was outdoor orientated, it isn't her. And let's face it, most moms these days are also working. Thank our out-of-control tax structure for both parents having to work. Our demographics here at FAOL show we have about 8% of readers who are female.

So the kids are not exposed to fishing at all, much less fly fishing. They are exposed to plenty of media showing how stupid dad is. They surely don't want to emulate him. That leaves televison and we know how much good stuff there is for kids doing anything outdoors. Can you just see a kid going to mom and telling her he wants to learn to fly fish? Ya, right.

Is there a fix? Is there a way to get kids involved in our sport?

Some schools do have programs on fly tying, rod building and some even arrange fishing trips. But they are few. We've helped a couple of schools who wanted to have a fly fishing course as part of their curriculum. And on the east coast there is a program called Family Ties which has had some success. I heard recently that the Federation of Fly Fishers is going to be working with that program - it would be a good thing if it succeeds in getting kids interested and involved.

For the most part however, I don't see great numbers of young people joining the fly fishing fraternity. What a terrible loss. And mostly because "dad is a dork."
~ The LadyFisher

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