June is dedicated to Superman and the Paternalism. The connection between the month of June, Superman, Paternalism and being a healthy geek may not be immediately apparent, so I invite you to partake in this line of reasoning:
Superman Week is in June
Firstly, Superman week is on in Metropolis this month from the 12th to the 15th June. I’m going to confess to being a bit of an ignorant geek on this one – I didn’t realise there was actually a real city in Illinois called Metropolis. Looks like a nice place too – and they definitely love anything and everything Superman there, officially and everything.
Superman and fatherhood
Superman in turn represents a benign form of paternalism similar to the idea of the “white man’s burden” that was quite prevalent in 1938 when Superman was first created. In this world, white men saw themselves as the father figure of the rest of humanity – inherently superior and in a position of authority to provide leadership and guidance to the rest of the world, who was seen to be weak and/or infantile. Superman in many ways represents the idea of a father figure to the rest of humanity. He has super powers when compared to us mere mortals, and he uses those powers to save us from ourselves when he decides we need to be saved. While Superman is ultimately trying to do the right thing, the underlying assumption is that humanity is collectively quite child-like enough not to be able to save ourselves without his intervention. If Superman has a fatherhood-like role with humanity, there is also his relationship with his own fathers to consider as well. First there is Jor-El, his biological father who focuses more on the concept of responsibility to use power to do good in a leadership role. Then there is his adoptive father, Jonathan Kent, who focuses more on the use of humility and compassion to do good as an individual. Both of these influences have a major impact on the character and world view of Superman.
Father’s Day and the Queen’s (not) Birthday
Speaking of fatherhood and role models, June is also the month of Father’s Day (15th June) and the Queen’s Birthday (9th June). Although deceptively called the “Queen’s” Birthday, Queen Elizabeth II was actually born on the 21st April, she just decided to keep the original King’s Birthday timing of her father, George V. Well, approximately at least – George V was actually born on the 3rd June, 1865 (a Saturday), whereas the Queen’s Birthday (and the King’s Birthday before it) is celebrated on the first Monday of June. None of which makes a whole lot of sense, but we still accept anyway – which pretty much sums up the monarchy and the British Monarchy in particular. Queen Elizabeth II is still the monarch, head of state, and paternalist embodiment of a former colonial empire of 16 independent nations. Many of these nations in turn see the Monarchy as their backup plan in case of emergency. No one really calls on the Queen for assistance, while the Queen in turn prefers not to get involved. The only time we really pay attention to the Monarchy is when there are babies involved and we get nostalgic.
Monarchy and conservatives
Speaking of archaic nostalgia, Tony Abbot, the current Prime Minister of one of the Queen’s realms, recently reintroduced the very old school honours of Dames and Knighthoods back to Australia. Though technically an honour bestowed upon by the Queen, this is one of those areas where she just lets the kids do it if they are into that kind of thing.
Tony Abbott represents an aggressive and misogynistic version of paternalism. If Superman is interventionist, but with good intentions, Tony Abbott is what would happen if you gave Lex Luthor super powers – an interventionist interest to further his own interests first. Actually, that’s not a fair comparison – Lex Luthor is a scientist, and bad in a cool kinda way. Tony Abbott is just kinda creepy – that’s when he’s not winking at pensioners that is.
Lex Luther conservatives are bad for your health
However Tony Abbott is just one of many Lex Luthor’s across the planet to be given super powers lately.
After the Great Financial Crisis, many countries were suckered into promises made by Lex Luthor conservatives that they were actually there to swoop in and save the day. Instead, they often just cut funding to public health, education, welfare, science and public transport – while spending up big on defence spending and cutting taxes to rich people and big business instead (a very Lex Luthor-esque list of priorities). However, research shows that there are negative health consequences to everyone whenever governments go Lex Luthor on us and inflict social pain on the wider community.
So if you want to live a healthy lifestyle, governments that priorities bombs over people are a threat to you just as much as smoking, a high fat/salt/sugar diet and a lack of exercise. What can you do about it? A geek’s gotta get ready!