The Feministing of Fathers

There are plenty of things that make being a mom worth it. The hugs, the kisses, the seeing your almost 5yo run across a soccer field, kick a goal, and then throw a smile and shy wave in your direction. But in the top 5 of the list of things that make this whole motherhood gig worthwhile is the blossoming of my daughter's father's feminism.

When I say blossoming, I mean it. When I met my husband (whom I married nine years ago today!) I was in some ways more radical than I am today. I was immersed in my Amnesty International activism and quite set in my 17yo ways. Heck, in my head I was on my way to Evergreen State College to kick my feminism into high gear! So he knew what he was getting into when he told me that he was crushing on me. I also knew what I was getting into when I said, ditto.

While he was more Alex P. Keaton than Steven Keaton, he was feminist enough for me. When we first met the idea of his wife keeping her maiden name was out of the question...Here I am nine years after our wedding still with the name I was born with. He's evolved in his feminism. Any credit that is due to me was a result of many debates, pushing, pulling, and yes, some nagging.

What amazes me is how much of the stuff that I used in those debates that he scoffed at now coming out of his mouth now that we have a daughter who is headed to kindergarten next year.

There's an old saying that to make a man a feminist, give him a daughter. It didn't work with Reagan, Bush, or McCain, but it sure has helped with my husband. I can't recall exactly what he said a few days ago, but I just smiled at him and beamed that look of love usually reserved for cheesy date movies or political spouses.

Over at Beacon Broadside, Kevin Scott discusses the pornification of Miley Cyrus not just from the POV of a professor of American literature and culture, but as a father:

Talk about teachable moments. Two days before the "topless Miley" stories broke all over television and online, my class and I were discussing the young star of the Disney show, Hannah Montana.


Knowing, as they do, how easy I am to distract, they asked me what I thought of Miley Cyrus, who plays a normal high school kid who moonlights as a rock star. (Don't we all remember that kid from our own high school days? No?)

I said, roughly, "Well, the music makes my ears bleed, BUT, considering the options, if my daughter were to be a fan of the star, I would probably decide to shut up and let her have her fun."


Largely, I agree with Cyrus' early comments, printed in Vanity Fair, along with the photos, that the image is "artsy." Yet there can be little argument that the girl in the photo—looking over her shoulder at you, with her lips plump and red, and her hair tousled as if awakened in the bed, nude, and clasping her satin sheets around her—is suggesting pleasures more adult than the age on the driver's license she can't yet possess would say is appropriate.

Then again, as a "Dad," I saw her ribs poking out and thought, "Man, somebody feed that kid."

With stories of dads who take their girls to get waxed, telling their daughters they are fat (personal anecdotes abound!), and other horrors, it is refreshing to see one and read of another who really get it. They understand that crap that their daughters will be growing up in and want to change things for the girls' sake. Yes, it is an extension of the patriarchal protection that makes this world insane in the first place, but it's a feminist patriarchy...I think.

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