In my 40+ years, I know many things for sure – I had amazing hair in college and it was a mistake to straighten it, there’s no one right way to parent so just mind your business, the stupid things people do are because of fear, the awesome things people do are because of love, and my father is a feminist. He just doesn’t know it.
No need to discuss most of these, but, I’ll say if you saw my hair in college, you would send me hate mail for straightening it. What we do need to discuss is my final thought.
My father is a feminist.
So what? Maybe yours is too. My daughter’s father is a feminist. Lots of fathers are feminists. Let me explain.
My dad is a Mexican immigrant and if you don’t know many – they’re not exactly known for their “girl power” mindset. They’re stereo-typically more of a “did you make my dinner yet” kind of crew. An unlikelier feminist you will not find. And yet, in his own way, my father is a feminist.
Yes, growing up I had to do all the “girl chores” – dishes, laundry, cooking. But, my dad also taught me the difference between a Phillips-Head and a flathead (look it up if you don’t know), how to change, clean and sharpen a mower blade, how to drive a bulldozer, bait a hook, and that getting dirty was just as acceptable for me as it was his crew of all guys.
He didn’t tell me to step aside when it was time to do the hard work or lift the heavy thing or drive the big machine. He called me over, told me what to do, and expected me to do it. And he didn’t let one of the guys push me aside. I stood side-by-side with them as their equal. Yes, they could lift more than me (they were 10-20yrs my senior) but I hung in there and did my part.
Because my father is a feminist.
For as long as I can remember, he told me I could do whatever I wanted so long as I worked hard. But he did more than just tell me because, let’s be honest, we all tell our kids that.
He said I could do whatever I wanted and then he made me actually do hard things. He made me do get-my-hands-dirty, sweat-streaming-down-my-face, endure-the-pain, feel-the-fear-and-do-it-anyway, I-don’t-think-I-can-do-this, hard things. He did more than just tell me. He made me KNOW I could do whatever I wanted.
So, why does any of this matter? It matters because we have to do more than just tell girls they can fix the broken world. We have to make them do hard things so they KNOW it. And we have to also teach our boys that girls can and girls will do the hard things and to not push them aside and to stand up for them if other guys try to push them aside.
Our country is broken. Hell, the world is broken. But it’s fixable, with get-our-hands-dirty, sweat-streaming-down-our-face, endure-the-pain, feel-the-fear-and-do-it-anyway, we-don’t-think-we-can-do-this, hard work.
I know this because my father is a feminist.
He doesn’t know it and if you told him he would laugh and laugh and completely deny it. That’s alright. He is. And because of him, so am I.
I’m proud of all the women who did the hard things to win their elections this week. I’m also proud of all the women and men who gave these ladies their votes because they know they can and know they will do the hard work needed to start to fix our country.
Maybe their fathers are feminists too.