Thoughts on Fatherhood & Feminism

With all the inspiring women’s marches last weekend, it was important for me to identify myself as a feminist.

Pretty controversial subject, right? The anti-feminist rhetoric revolves around the idea that feminism in itself is sexist against men. But it is important to understand that the core of this movement is not for women to have more rights than men. It’s not at all to even limit the rights of men. It is simply to move forward in a world where men and women have equal rights and opportunities. While the movement in itself has had its ups and downs throughout history, it’s not right to look at any ideology and focus on the extreme minority to justify the whole.

For me, it’s about my daughter. When I first saw her big beautiful eyes open for the first time, I had a strong innate urge to protect her. It was an instinctual overdrive that took over. At that moment, I knew I had to make sure I was able to provide for her and my wife. Today, because women have not been provided the same opportunities as men, society has dictated men to satisfy their drive to protect through basic provision for their families. They work non-stop, are rarely at home, and when they do they only share in the positive aspects of raising their kids. There is no active involvement in all aspects of child-rearing. There is instead an immense pressure to succeed in the workplace to be seen as “successful”—pressures which have led to a male suicide rate more than 4x more likely than that of women and ailments such as schizophrenia & alcohol addiction being 2-3x more likely. But what if these burdens were shared equally? If women could also be allowed to earn & be respected in the same way as men in the workforce? If men felt okay to stay at home to care for their children and be active in their lives?

That’s when you realize that feminism perhaps isn’t just about women’s rights—it’s more about feminity, and how an oppression of anything considered feminine (caretaking, loving and nurturing) can seriously hamper even the way society dictates what a man can and cannot do. It influences the adult world as much as it influences young men. Much of my insecurities when I was younger came from stereotypes of what a man should be. I longed for facial hair before puberty. I wore & said things I know weren’t definitive of who I was and went against what I really believed. But these social constructs only kept me from really enjoying that time and constantly fearing what others would think for every decision made. For the good of society, we men need to support feminism as a way to truly  push for a world where everyone has equal rights and no one is felt threatened by these attitudes.

I don’t want to be limited by societal roles. My instinctual drive as a father is still to protect my daughter, but I’ll do so by influencing how she will be treated in this world. I have the ability to empower her. Most fathers never get this chance for their girls because they are present only in the manner dictated by  masculine norms, and this type of toxic patriarchy where a father is only half-present with their family can seriously put their daughters’  livelihoods in danger. We still live in a world where women all over are reduced completely and a good father wouldn’t ever want their daughters to feel that way. A father is the best person that can show their daughters how they should be treated by other men across their entire life; including in the workplace, in their travels, in their schooling and in their relationships. My daughter will get my perspective and I’ll make sure she gets it daily. I hope I can influence my daughter to be competitive, ambitious, confident and strong-minded while knowing that she lives in a world where people will call her pushy, bossy, bitchy, and conniving just for having the traits that would deem a man to be labeled as “successful”.

Women are still recovering from the oppression of men in this country, much of which is still happening. Globally, women still don’t even have the ability to question what they have a right to. As fathers, we have to question the world that we brought our children into. We have to do what we can to make it better. And for me, my daughter requires an assurance that I am committed to raising her in a way that she can succeed. Thankfully,  I share parenthood with an incredible wife who is a positive role model for our daughter. My wife is a strong, intelligent and extremely-capable woman who does not let any obstacle get in her way. But my daughter also has to have a father who respects her mother, points out where there are double standards, and demonstrates an example of what a truly equal relationship should look like.

Thankfully, there are more men caring for their children than ever before and doing away with societal measures. There are more women out there defying all odds in athleticism, workplace and science. There are more people fighting to ensure equality for all. But the fact that there’s still a fight shows we’re still not there… and for my own daughter, I have to stand up for her.

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