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    ROBERT BLY
    on Fathers and Work in the 1990s


  • bly-sm.jpg - 15931 BytesAmerican business made a decision some years ago to be "competitive" in the fast market as opposed to keeping promises to workers or supporting their communities. From 1973 to 199l, the average hourly wage for production and nonsupervisory workers steadily fell. From 1980 to 1993, the Fortune 500 companies shed more than one quarter (4.4 million) of all the jobs they had previously provided. Meanwhile, during that same period, these companies increased their assets by 2.3 times, and their sales by 1.4 times. The major CEOs increased their annual compensation by 6.11 times.

  • We know all these figures, and they are heartbreaking. To fathers, and mothers, they are devastating. The media concentrates on deadbeat dads men abandoning their homes and yet virtually no one blames an economic system that deprives millions of workers of jobs.

  • Today in America the unskilled black man has little chance of obtaining a permanent job that would pay enough to support a family. He eventually becomes resigned to being unable to play the traditional father role, and rather than being faced with his own failure day after day, year after year, he often walks away.

  • Andrew Kimbrell in the Masculine Mystique remarks that the purportedly 'patriarchal' industrial production system in the 1800s began by destroying fatherhood in the form of enclosures, which amounted to the abolishment of common pastures, ordered by the courts, driving men into the factories.

    The patriarchal system's destruction of fatherhood continues in the United States today: here it is free hours that are "enclosed." In 1935, the average workingman had forty hours a week free, including Saturday and Sunday. By 1990, it was down to seventeen hours. The twenty-three lost hours of free time a week since 1935 are the very hours in which the father could be a nurturing father, and find some center in himself, and the very hours in which the mother could feel she actually has a husband.


    Source "The Sibling Society" by Robert Bly ( American poet and social critic ) published by Addison Wesley,1996

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