Before continuing with the topic of contemporary fatherhood discourses, it is worth looking at what fatherhood has traditionally meant, since new discourses develop interdiscursively out of older ones, and are thus likely to manifest discoursal links with these. In many cultures, fatherhood has traditionally been an indication of men’s fertility, virility and manhood. To father has no female equivalent. Adrienne Rich writes ‘To “father” a child suggests above all to beget, to provide the sperm which fertilizes the ovum … A man may beget a child in passion or by rape, and then disappear …’ (1976: 12). A child can thus be ‘fathered’ without any attendant pain of childbirth or risk of death, and certainly without childcare. Genealogically, fatherhood has also provided a guarantee that the paternal ‘line’ will be continued and has meant the existence of a future beneficiary of any inheritance. It has thus been important as well as socially significant for men. Consider the language surrounding it: there still exist phrasings along the lines of a woman ‘having’ a man’s child or baby. The importance of paternity has resulted in traditional restrictions on women’s extramarital sexuality (recall Rich’s exemplification of the chastity belt in Chapter 3).
KeywordsPrime Minister Daily Mail Paternity Leave Sunday Time Indirect Speech
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- 1.Blair has been an epistemological site for linguists before, as the subject of Norman Fairclough’s (2000) New Labour, New Language?, but in terms of his political speeches and written texts.Google Scholar