So the Daughter Problem isn't a problem with having a girl at all. Let's get that out of the way first thing. No, The Daughter Problems is really about the process that I went through when we were pregnant with my son and evolved over time.
So The Daughter Problem goes like this. It started when my partner and I were pregnant with our son. I had gone to Las Vegas with my Dad and his girlfriend right before my son was born. As you may recall, we did not know if we were going to have a boy or a girl, and honestly my gut was telling me that we were having a girl. So I find myself in Vegas with my father, and at this point in my life I was only starting to really get a handle on practical feminism and the issues surrounding everyday objectification of women. So there we were on Fremont Street. If you have never been to Vegas, Fremont Street is the last remnant of "old Vegas" Lots of neon and signs with lights, tons of strip clubs (not the nice ones on the strip, no I'm talking the sketchy ones were the crabs have herpes), and women dressed as burlesque dancers out on the street just trying to make a buck by letting you take a picture with them. So here we are, and my dad is undressing these women on Fremont Street with his eyes, making lewd comments to his girlfriend, and just generally being skeezy. I felt like I needed a shower. Well, I confronted him on it. I told him that I thought it was super inappropriate and that just because those women were showing a lot of skin doesn't mean they want to or deserve to be objectified in that way. I told him that he could have a granddaughter in a short period of time, and is that really the example he wants to set. Was that the message he wanted to send to his granddaughter that she was only as valuable as her exposed tits and ass? And if he had a grandson, did he want to tell that boy that it was OK to treat women like that?
Well, that did not go over well at all. He got so offended and exploded. He was yelling and screaming and making a scene. And it was easy for me, because I was right and he was wrong. Because I could say "No, you don't get access to these children until I know you won't corrupt them with these ass-backwards ideas." But here is the truth, a few months before when I wasn't going to be a dad, the only part of that which would have bothered me was hearing my dad talk like that. I probably would have been objectifying those women in exactly the same way.
The Daughter Problem only got worse. So when we were pregnant with my daughter, nothing really changed, until I found out that she was a she. I immediately became acutely aware that I was the father to a daughter, that she was my daughter. What did that mean? Thinking back, I never had this acute awareness that I had a son. My son was my kid, but my daughter was my DAUGHTER. Seriously, WTF was that about? Why was there this double standard in my mind? Why was having a daughter so different than having a son? I mean honestly, the only difference between an infant boy and an infant girl is the direction the pee goes when they pee mid-change! So why was it such a big deal in my head that NOW I had a daughter? I don't know that I have the answer to those questions, but it is something to really think about.
Here is what I do know. My partner and I agreed to keep out any toxic masculinity or misogyny. We don't by clothes that say: "hunk," "Chick Magnent," "If you think I'm cute, you should see my ...", "sexy," etc. We buy our daughter feminine clothing, but it can't vomit "girl things". We have a limit two rule. Any piece of clothing that is girl clothing can only have a maximum of 2 things: pink, sparkles/glitter, bows, scalloped edging, skirt, tool (the tutu material, ruffles, hearts, etc. We are teaching both of our children consent culture. Their bodies are theirs and theirs alone. They both will be taught to say no if they don't want to do something, and they will both be free to make their own decisions on who they want to become involved with later in life. If I say it is OK for my son to date at age 14, then it's the same for my daughter. I plan on enrolling both of them in martial arts when they are old enough so they can both handle any situation they find themselves in. I don't want either of my children to ever feel that they aren't empowered.
Now Just to put it out there for anyone who thinks that their going to show off their shotgun or violently chop a cucumber when their daughter starts dating, I want you to consider this. If your daughter was a lesbian, would you do that to her girlfriends? Probably not. So don't cheer your boys on their latest conquests or protect your daughters like princesses locked in a castle. Our kids need to be who they are going to be. These ideas only came about because on some level we were taught that a woman's virginity was more precious than a man's. We were taught that our daughters should remain virginal and that it is an insult to our honor if they don't. We were taught that we need to be protectors, and that means killing off potential suitors. Seriously, we need to put that shit to bed. We live in 2018. Lets start teaching our kids what true consent is, not this nonsense we all grew up with. It is time that as parents we took on the responsibility to teach the next generation to respect the limits and boundaries of others. Don't stop teaching women how to not be raped, but lets start teaching boys that they shouldn't rape. Lets redefine gender roles to reflect the modern society we claim to be. We need to stop pink washing everything. A young girl's value does not lie between her legs but rather between her ears. Girls shouldn't have to wear pink, and boys shouldn't be barred from it. Colors are colors, toys are toys, experience is experience, learning is learning - None of it is gendered. If you disagree, I'm sorry but grow up and get your head out of your ass.
(I got a little fired up at the end there)
I'm Matt a.k.a. The Attached Abba (Abba = Hebrew for Dad). This blog is detailing my journey in parenthood, and will hopefully provide a space for other dads to find support and insight.