Father's Sons and Mummy's Boys
Disclaimer: this post contains gross, unscientific generalisations
Watching a little of the Ben Cousins documentary last night (and I'm not going to comment on it further), I was struck by the strong relationship that evidently exists between Ben and his almost equally famous footballer father, Brian. At one point Brian described himself along the lines that he was "Ben's best friend, his mentor, his role model, his mate," and expressed the hope that Ben seeing the suffering that he was causing him, Brian, would be enough to jolt him out of his destructive behaviour.
I found this particularly interesting because I'd already been thinking about the differences between men who have a strong relationship with their fathers (whether loving or competitive, or both) and men who are more strongly attached to their mothers. Michael has often observed that he, and all his friends, are Mummy's boys - often youngest sons - who are closer to their mothers than their fathers. Traditionally, this has been true of most, if not all, of my male friends. I'm not sure that I even know any men who are close to their fathers.
Are there two types of men in the world? Russel Howcroft, the blokey, aggressive panellist on The Gruen Transfer, spoke in a recent weekend paper about the importance of his relationship with his late father; he says he thinks of him every day. Hm, I thought, he's a Dad's boy; I wonder if Todd Sampson (his "sensitive," more progressive fellow panellist) is a Mummy's boy? And lo and behold, in last week's Sunday Age, there was Todd talking about how his childhood was dominated by his strong, eccentric mother.
Sportsmen often seem to be father's sons. Many of the men I worked with in the music industry were also this type (if it is a type!) - aggressively masculine, competitive, trying to prove something. The mummy's boys, on the other hand, tend to be more comfortable in the company of women, less comfortable with conflict, and yes, some of them are gay.
So what do you think? Go on, shoot me down - please!