Biology of Dads Review: 21st Century Father

June 21, 2010 by  
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BIOLOGY OF DADS: Tuesday 22nd June, BBC4, 9pm ALERT ME

Caught between inadvertent propaganda for Fathers-4-Justice and medical study, Biology of Dads is purely aimed at expectant fathers or couples already with child. For anyone else the content is simply not arresting enough to captivate those with an interest in biology, parenting or unsubstantiated medical theory.

The role of the father has certainly changed in the last quarter century with the traditional roles of mothers and fathers having dramatically altered: in the 1970s dads spent little more than fifteen minutes a day on child related activity compared with today where it is reported that number has risen to two hours. It is largely accepted now that a father’s presence is far more important than previously thought, somewhat reflected in the fact that up until 1962 men were not permitted by the NHS to enter the maternity ward, even after the birth of their child.

Laverne Antrobus presents this documentary with all the earnestness she can muster as she trails between various medical researchers and child psychologists, each determined to prove their various theories, most of which appear to be in the early stages of development. Underlying each respective assertion is the belief that pregnancy, once a world thought to be alien and inaccessible to men, is in fact a process that inherently involves men whether they’re conscious of it or not. In essence, the opinion is formed that a father’s relationship with their child develops before child birth, not afterwards.

Without a medical degree it is often difficult to decipher how accurate the science being demonstrated on screen actually is. Antrobus, herself a psychologist, bases many of her arguments on self-described “startling new research?, a term that often inspires accusations of dubious science or at least yet-to-be-proven theories. Anyone familiar with medical journals, or poly-filler news stories, will know that there are almost weekly announcements regarding some new scientific discovery that are often vehemently denied by other fellow academics or scientists. This is true of the segment where fifty-five men are tested for levels of prolactin, the hormone responsible for causing lactation in women, which is thought to lie dormant in men until the arrival of their child when it is triggered into action. The test involves measuring the levels of prolactin in a father before and after holding his child. Whilst it is interesting that, in one case, the man’s levels of prolactin increases by 20%, you find yourself doubting the validity of a test conducted on such a small number of human guinea pigs. I believe there is a L’Oreal advert currently being shown that uses twice the number of people to give respectability to a new brand of hair conditioner.

Biology of Dads is seemingly designed to coax fathers into a psychological state somewhere between being made to feel more important whilst simultaneously being reduced to a state of paranoia as they’re told their involvement (or lack of) could even effect when their daughter begins puberty. Despite this there are occasional insights to maintain the viewers’ interest but they are far too few to really satisfy.

Keith Richard Radford Jr says:

It’s gota stop. We have health care facilities that want to put microchips in old people so when they get hit by a passing bus the meat can be id’ed and the inheritance can be cut between the kids who if just got their old dad an inhaler of insulin they would not go out for that walk but they would walk over to the sick freak kid and take the car they bought for them in the first place and go where they need to go. The acceleration put on us by the past few decades of stupid has brought us to the lets try it on the Vietnamese? What a bunch of macrons. Dr. Mangala is dead and so is the let make a four eyed monkey butt so we can screw over another harry, Larry, or Moe? Pay up because you don’t get another chance to see what if anymore. Back away from the use of microchips in humans, and the use of pesticides on them as they did with the pesticide dusting at the local plunge [DDT] so some pious chump can spray the chimps before they get in the pool but walk right in themselves unscaved? signed the twice chipped guy. You don’t like someone too bad, you have no right to damage them even if they are purple/green/black/polka dot/yellow/gay/straight/red/white or blew you.