2014/2020_In Search Of The Father / Chapter II_The Father Figure

2.a_Are they shaping us or breaking us?

In 2019 I decided to add a new approach to my research and expand from archive materials to involve external voices to my narrative. I sent out an open call asking people to send me testimonies of their relationship with their father. Wether it’d be a painful one or a raving one all scenarios were welcome with the only limitation of providing a picture alongside the text to either illustrate it, or just share an object that was a reminder of their dad or that would symbolize fatherhood. 56 people reached out, from the 56, only 20 ended up sending me the material. To all I asked what word would best describe a father: oppression or protection. 4 answered oppression, 13 answered protection, 2 answered both and 1 answered neither. The participants are 16 women and 4 men. 8 asked whether it would be anonymous. Below are 4 testimonies, picked at random amongst the final 20.

2.b_Idealization & Rejection

I have a real struggle with authority figures -especially male ones- and this has already shown to be prejudicial in professional settings. I dread disappointing people and enjoy when nothing is expected of me. I noticed that I never listen to middle-aged men’s opinions and discard their feedback on pretty much anything. I also noticed that I don’t like my friend’s dads. I believe being lectured by a middle-aged man could be what puts me in the worst tantrum of my life. And I also hate and despise several historical male figures that are considered very powerful. That includes -among others- Auguste Rodin, Charles de Gaulle, and Victor Hugo.

2.c_Family structures & gender expectations

What about the single moms, the same sex parents, the step fathers, the fathers in law? There are so many concevable family structures, why are we still so obsessed with the very same one? Is there a so called perfect structure for family, composed of a father a mother, a boy and a girl? A nuclear family? Is that coming from a weird mathematical rule in which each parent has its role and each child a parent to confide in? Since as long as I can remember that schema has always creeped me out. This almost too perfect scenery only represent uneasiness to me, as if it had to be fake, and hide something terrible.It also always seemed so boring to me. Isn’t it an eternal sort of double date? But then an only child would be the third wheel? Four would be too much for me to handle for sure. But then if I have three, it’s like Anna is missing. And I can’t keep this thought away from my mind. But no children doesn’t mean no family, right?

2.d_The Holy Father

What about the Father of fathers, the first genitor, the ultimate patriarch, the man who by its sole will and without human depravation made us all? I have reached out to Father Yves Petiton, priest of the Catholic’s Mission de France who officiates in my town, Ivry-sur-seine. We discussed paternity, roles, labels, being both a father and a son and his own thoughts on fatherhood.