Charles Fox, Jr.

The Hypocrisy of (Some) Daddies

A couple years back, Shawn Carter (better known to the world as Jay-Z) and his wife Beyoncé Knowles gave birth to a beautiful baby girl named Blue Ivy. Usually, I am quite disinterested by the musings of "celebrities" but one thing stood out to me. Jay-Z allegedly made the declaration that he would no longer refer to women as "bitches" in his music. The authenticity of the statement is questionable but it points to a larger phenomenon that we are all familiar with. I'm referring to men who come to the realization that we live in an extremely patriarchal, sexist, and misogynistic society...only after they become father to a female. While it's admirable and sweet that having a little girl can drastically alter man's outlook on life and change the very way he thinks, it feels a bit like they're a little late to a party that most women (and some men) are already privy to.

It's a familiar archetype: hyper-masculine man settles down and becomes a father to a girl and suddenly he realizes that he's mistreated women for much of his adult life (hopefully, prior to meeting the mother of the child at least) and vows to treat women with more respect, value them, etc. Noble aspiration but why does it take having a daughter of your own to come to this idealistic conclusion? Every battered woman, every woman who has been sexually assaulted, every woman who has been sexually harassed, every woman who has been called a "bitch" in a club for not responding to the advances of an overzealous man, every woman who has been paid 77 cents for every dollar her male counterpart makes, every woman who has been disqualified from a certain position because she has children...these are all someone's daughter.

It doesn't and shouldn't take a man actually having a daughter in order for him to be able to see the very real gender disparities and inequalities that exist. One need only open their eyes. It seems hypocritical (and selfish) for a man to devalue women and view them as sex objects who are inferior, only to turn around and assert some newfound sense of feminism because their female offspring now occupies the very same sexist world we've all helped to cultivate. A man can choose to acknowledge his male privilege and work to create a more equitable and fair environment for all genders long before he becomes a dad. It just takes a willingness to look in the mirror and value other people's daughters (and sons) as much as you would value your own child coupled with a desire to want to make this world a more hospitable place for humanity (regardless of gender identity). It will also take the acknowledgement that so much of what many fathers think is protective love of their daughters is actually just a symptom of patriarchy. Good Dads don't wear t-shirts with slogans like: "Guns don't kill people, dads with pretty daughters do." Good dads also don't feel the need to pose in prom photos with their daughters holding assault rifles (seemingly for kicks and/or to dissuade would be suitors from coming around). Good dads raise young women who value their bodies, their sexual health, and above all else have the good sense to make decisions that won't be a detriment to their lives and goals.

The "overbearing dad," while well-intentioned, is just another example of a man trying to control a woman (his daughter) in a way that he likely would not attempt to control a man (his son). Our daughters need love, support, and guidance as they blossom into women. What they don't need is yet another man thinking that they are helping them by asserting their dominance and control over their lives. Globally, there are women suffering under male oppression. I don't have to have conceived a female to understand that fact. Nor do I have to wait until I am a dad to try to do something about it. Start today. Speak to young men honestly about the images and messages they are receiving about the opposite sex. Talk to them about the denigrating terms present in our culture they so eagerly and wantonly recite. Educate them about the inconvenient truth that women worldwide remain in a web of oppression, human trafficking, and restricted access to education and opportunity. Those small steps could go a long way towards counteracting misogyny. Simply swearing off sexism because "you've got a little girl now" is arrogant, insincere, and counterproductive. Be well everyone.

© Copyright 2014, Charles Fox, Jr.

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