Does Becoming a Father Make You a Feminist?

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New research from Britain (here) suggests a strong correlation between having a daughter and holding feminist views, particularly for fathers.  While this may have been slow in coming for my own father, who only recently stopped (at my urging) referring to opposing counsel as “lady lawyers,” it is certainly true to some limited extent for my brother in law, who I would lovingly describe as a fascist.  Conservative in every way that you can imagine, he is, oddly enough, a wonderful father to his daughters and has consistently told them that they could be whatever they wanted to be in life.  We disagree about pretty much everything, but I do believe that he has been a good father and, at the very least, an equality feminist.  So, happy early Father’s Day to my brother-in-law, who will assuredly never read this post, because he wouldn’t be caught dead on a feminist web site.

–Leigh Goodmark

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4 Responses to Does Becoming a Father Make You a Feminist?

  1. efink says:

    Sadly, fatherhood doesn’t appear to have had that effect on Michael Lewis (cf. Ann’s earlier post).

  2. pj says:

    great post! Also belongs a little in the “we needed to spend money to prove this ?” category. But obviously its good to have it in writing, so to speak…
    As a pretty big mouth feminist myself I found even those who would be inclined to resist feminist thinking but are fathers to girls, are often more interested in my “nagging” because they see how it can effect “their” females. I don’t mean that is conscious or subconscious even sort of power trip, but it may at times relate to “old country” thinking. These men feel a more personal stake in it, and I would bet its generally not about power over protecting what is “theirs” but rather sincere care for their daughters. However, as a woman raised by parents from Iraq I will attest that as sexist (and proud to call himself such) as my father is and as much as he doesn’t mind seeing women dress, act, etc. to please men, as his daughter he wouldn’t have me caught dead like that. Of course my situation was much different than most American dads and daughters, but I think this is part of the conversation. The fact that men know that they think of us as less when we treat ourselves as such and maybe my father just didn’t want his “property” to be seen as in poor taste and condition whereas more progressive western fathers may want their daughters to know their value for themselves ,there is still a common thread. That thread is failing to see other women as daughters and mothers and women and girls who should be treated with respect. I would make a bet that many of the fathers who, with feminist thinking, would hate to see their daughter treat herself as an object, make few objections to those women who do when it isn’t aimed at their daughters. Our consumption of media and the often similar sexist themes don’t par up with how many good intended (and not those treating daughters as property ) fathers who would probably never want to see their daughters treat themselves or be treated as such. We need solidarity among women as well as men, we need men to show women they don’t want to see women treat themselves as less than human and that its not sexy. I think this is important. The problem of sexism is much deeper than letting women be what they want to be, its about treating them as humans all around and changing society’s attitude towards that which has been deemed “feminine”. For example, how many women have the career and the family and feel like they basically just have a double load now because society told us we can be what we want but didn’t set up resources to get there or protect us or figure out how to really help women be what they want-without regretting it ?

  3. Jennifer Hendricks says:

    Anecdotally, when I was in practice I did some high school-level Title IX work. It always seemed like the best way for an average guy to become a feminist was to have his daughter play sports. It was very amusing hearing the dads’ OUTRAGE about how his daughter’s softball or volleyball team was treated, compared to the football team.

  4. bob coley jr says:

    I’m not sure as to what kind of ‘treatment” the above comment is referring to, but some dads don’t see gender in many ways. Kids are kids, teams are teams, bad treatment is bad treatment. How you play the game is the character builder.

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