Five Minute Interview: Dr. Michael Kimmel
Alvin: Who are you, what do you do, and what do you enjoy most about it?
Michael: I’m a sociologist and an activist who supports gender equality. I teach at a university. What I like the most is working to balance my teaching, researching, and activism as a public intellectual.
Alvin: Its 2030 what changes would you like to see with fatherhood?
Michael: By 2030 my son will likely be a new father. He will ASSUME that his wife or partner will work full time. He will ASSUME that he will be an egalitarian parent, sharing housework and child care. And I know this because he will not be a small minority, but the majority of new fathers will be egalitarian parents.
Alvin: What are your favorite activities that you enjoy most with your son?
Michael: I like the long walks and talks we have about every topic imaginable. I like watching him shine — on the soccer or lacrosse field, on stage in a musical production, or just hanging out with his friends. I love to make him laugh. And I love watching him sleep.
Alvin: In your opinion what does it mean to be a man today?
Michael: We live in a culture in which half of all traits and behaviors were coded as feminine and half coded as masculine. For the past half-century, women have said “this is too confining; we can be assertive, competent, and aggressive in addition to being compassionate, kind and generous.” Women have embraced the idea that they can be whole human beings.
To me, being a man is to live as a complete human being, with access to a full range of traits and behaviors. Males are hard-wired for compassion and nurturing, just as much as we are hard-wired for competition and aggression.
Alvin: Tell a story, name something that you’ve done or experienced that became your largest step to manhood?
Michael: When I was a young boy, I read John F. Kennedy’s book, PROFILES IN COURAGE. In it, he recounted the stories of men who had stepped up, done the right thing, even though they knew it would cost them dearly. It inspired me to stand up against bullies, batterers, and those who would keep women from full equality. Knowing that equality and justice are at the heart of the American ideal, I feel proud to stand on the side of those who seek greater equality and gender justice.
Alvin: What personal advice do you have for fathers and men navigating their way through fatherhood and manhood?
Michael: We often hear two voices: the voices of other men, saying “don’t be a wuss, be a man, man up, do it this way…” and the voices, often soft and inchoate, from our own hearts, about what we actually want, need, and wish for. We all need to follow our hearts, not our fears.
For more on Dr. Michael Kimmel check out his site.