Sunday, June 19, 2011

Why Feminism Matters On Father's Day

My daughter is six-years-old. She is growing up quickly, into a world where women are under assault, physically, mentally, and socially. Rapists, anti-choice rabble, magazine editors, Hollywood directors, and Congressmen are trying to tell her she's not good enough as she is, that she shouldn't get her hopes up, that she has no autonomy over herself, that her only worth is as a mother and wife. The Women's Suffrage movement of the early Twentieth Century is now under assault by men who have watched their power erode every decade since, as women and minorities assert themselves and take the rights and privileges that are owed them by their mere existence as citizens of America.

As a father, since the birth of my daughter, my leanings toward the equality of women has naturally risen above it's previous levels. My daughter is growing up in this world, and as her father, I am charged with ensuring not only that she is raised to be tough, strong, and intelligent, but with making sure that the world she grows into is not corrupted for women. I am forced to confront the societal ills more forcefully, as I cannot countenance women being returned to their status as second-class citizens in a male-dominated society. She deserves all the blessing of her humanity, and she is a person like anyone else, not an object to be coveted, taken, shamed, or shackled.

It is not just the purview of the father to look out for a daughter. Every woman, of every stripe, in every place, deserves to have the respect of every man. It is a woman we have to thank for our existence, and that should be enough, but beyond our mother, women are our sisters, aunts, grandmothers, teachers, doctors, nurses, soldiers, scientists, and fill every level of human society with their knowledge, their strength, their caring their compassion. Man and woman are equal measure of humanity, and while some men would argue the point, it is only because they have latched onto dogma and steeped themselves in their own need to be superior.

On this Father's Day, let us not forget how all fathers got their opportunity to be such, and let us not forget that our fatherhood does not stop at the door, especially where it comes to our daughters. We, having helped to create a human being, must nurture them, and provide them an environment in which to thrive. This means we must be vigilant, must be engaged, must strive to build a better world for them than the one we inherited. Father's Day is not a day for rest, but reflection, and action, if those Father's Days to come are to be worth celebrating.

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