I just watched an episode of a British tv show called Kingdom. The plot and context don’t matter too much to my point; the bare bones of things is: Stephen Fry plays a small town lawyer (“solicitor”) in England, helping the local townsfolk with their everyday problems. This particular episode featured a father who was suspected of blowing up his own boat for insurance money (he’d done it before). At the end of the episode, it turns out that his son actually did it. What struck me was that, faced with the prospect of his son going to jail (for a few years, I should think, at least) the father does something quite remarkable (to me at least): he hugs his son to him, looks like he is going to cry, and says
“I just wanted to be on the water, with you”
“Well I’ll be out soon enough!”
“I need you now!”

What struck me was a) vulnerability the father desplays, b) the obvious emotional connectio to his son, and c) his willingness to be physically demonstrative. I imagined this post as something of a discussion of masculinity, and the ways in which our culture (and I think particularly American culture) trains boys and men to avoid affection of a certain sort (that which would be perceived as “effeminate,” or “gay,” or any of a number of things that are meant to be pejorative). I don’t really know if I have more to say on the subject than I have though… I was struck by this moment, and it made me at once thankful that my father never seemed to have trouble displaying his love for me, and sad at the ways in which I see this kind of crippling emotional stuntedness spread throughout the people I know. I certainly don’t want to claim that I’m immune to it, either; it’s hard to put oneself out there, though I find it less hard with people I know well…

Here’s the episode I was talking about; the scene I mentioned is at pretty much the very end.

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