cover image Father Figure: How to Be a Feminist Dad

Father Figure: How to Be a Feminist Dad

Jordan Shapiro. Little, Brown Spark, $27 (304p) ISBN 978-0-316-45996-9

Shapiro (The New Childhood), former Forbes education columnist, invites cisgender male parents to dive deep into concepts of masculinity, identity, and fatherhood in this thorough guide. He identifies four foundational principles to becoming a feminist dad: cultivating critical consciousness that interrogates problematic narratives; practicing responsive fathering that gives up narcissistic paternal authority in favor of valuing others’ perspectives; fighting locker-room gender essentialism and biological determinism with explicit antisexism; and practicing and modeling rigorous inclusivity in the home and in the world. Shapiro highlights how media properties such as Star Wars codify the father-child role and establish rugged individualism as something to be admired, and takes on tropes of “good dad” masculinity—such as monopolizing dinner conversations with well-meant advice or indulging in the notion that fathers should be the model against which a child models future romantic partners— to show how such thinking is grounded in outdated models of authority. Shapiro’s narrative style is collegial and extraordinarily approachable considering the well-entrenched ideas he aims to dislodge; readers turned off by other man-to-man treatises on discarding toxic masculinity will find this to be nonjudgmental while still unrelenting in reinforcing the necessity of doing “self-intervention” work. Urgent and intellectually rigorous, this survey comes at a perfect moment. Agent: Bonnie Solow, Solow Literary. (May)