My husband and I are not the sort of people who like to wait to be surprised. So 11 weeks into my second pregnancy, I had a CVS performed and when the results came in my midwife called to let me know we would be having a healthy baby girl. But that's when it started: the sweeping generalizations about my daughter's future life based on nothing other than her vulva. People expected prickly feminist me to take umbrage. But my husband surprised a whole lot of people as they learned there are some
things feminist dads never say to their daughters.
As I moved on in my pregnancy, I was delighted that my dude was helping me set the tone for the way I wanted my daughter to be treated once she made her grand entrance. In short, we wanted our daughter to pretty much be treated identically to how we wanted her older brother to be treated. He corrected people if they joked with him about keeping boys away. He assured them that the little lady would be encouraged to share his love of video games and sci-fi. He would thank people for their gifts of pink onesies with "Daddy's Little Princess" scrawled across the front and later turn to me and say "Did this come with a gift receipt? I feel like this is sort of creepy.
You know how I feel about the whole princess thing."
While I personally don't have an issue with princesses or being called a princess, my husband did make a valid point: from a very early age,
people can say truly creepy things to and about little girls, and it can be difficult to fight these expectations and stereotypes on your daughter's behalf all on your own. It's infinitely easier when both you and your partner are feminists, and when you have a feminist dad who refuses to say these 12 things to his daughter, you remember that you're not playing the parenting game alone. "I'm Sending You To A Convent And You're Not Coming Out Until You're 35"
Nothing says "I have creepy controlling ideas about female sexuality" quite like telling your little girl (who may or may not even have a concept of her own sexuality yet) that you're going to lock her away in a sex segregated environment until well into adulthood. Feminist dads are protective of their girls, but they aren't out to "save" their daughters from their own bodies and the ability to enjoy them.
"Boys Should Know I Have A Shotgun And I Know How To Use It"
Because this is literally threatening to kill boys (
children if you're saying this before they're 18) over the idea that they may be attracted to your daughter. Cool story, bro. Feminist dads forgo violence against children and greet their daughters' friends and/or boyfriends/girlfriends with a handshake and a warm smile. "I Wish I'd Had A Son So We Could Do X Together"
Feminists dads know that whether they're into sports, gaming, karate, skiing, skateboarding, chess, animal husbandry, or (as depicted above) breakdancing, anything they can do with a son they can do with a daughter. Assigning gender to, well,
anything is just ridiculous. "Boys Don't Like It When..."
Feminist dads don't want their daughters basing their behavior off of the expectation of
anyone, let alone a gaggle of hypothetical boys (they also know "boys" aren't a monolith and there's no such thing as "what boys like" because everyone likes different things). This is pretty basic stuff here. The kicker is when dads (or anyone) will say "boys don't like it when" in the same conversation as "I'm sending you to a convent." It's like "Okay, so, I'm supposed to conform my behavior to what boys like and don't like, but I'm not allowed to socialize with them on any level. Seems legit." "That's Not Ladylike"
Because you can say "ladylike just means well mannered" all you want, but feminist dads know it's coded language meant to keep women and girls submissive, demure, and adhering to gender norms that are oppressive. Feminist dads will have none of this. Zip. Zero. Nada.
Any Gendered Slur Of Any Kind
Because "pussy" doesn't (or at least shouldn't) mean a weak person. Women aren't bitches, sluts, or hos. "Throw like a girl" is not synonymous with "throwing badly."
Certainly a feminist father (or even a father with a modicum of decency) wouldn't dare apply these terms to his daughters, and a proud feminist dad will do his best to avoid them entirely, or debunk them once and for all. "Man Of The House"
Feminist dads don't subscribe to the idea that a man is the unquestioned, supreme leader of his home. If he's parenting with a partner, he works with them to ensure as equitable a partnership as possible. If he's a single parent, well, he's the head of the household by default because he's the only damn adult there: it has nothing to do with his gender. Feminist dads know that their daughters are going to have their authority second guessed pretty regularly on account of their gender. They don't want to reinforce that at such a tender age by suggesting that men naturally wield more power or deserve extra respect.
Because feminist dads know that calling a girl "bossy" is really just another way of telling her that she's forgetting her place and shouldn't be expressing her opinions or demonstrating leadership. If a feminist dad's daughter is being mean-spirited or surly in how she's addressing other people, he may describe her as inconsiderate, rude, or imperious, but never "bossy."
"I'm Not Taking You To Go Buy Tampons, That's Embarrassing. Ask Your Mother."
Feminist dads are totally down with Aunt Flo, folks. Not only do feminist dads nonchalantly pick up pads, tampons, or menstrual cups for their daughters upon request*, but they will vociferously scoff at the idea that most states apply a
luxury tax to menstrual products.
*they may need some guidance here, though: the great majority of fathers, bless their hearts, have never had a period, so they don't know what to look for and that's okay.
"Sex Is For Married People"
Statistically speaking, whether a dad is feminist or not, he would be a
huge hypocrite to say this to his daughter. As long as sex is safe and consensual, feminist dads don't tie sexual activity or inactivity to morality. "Should You Eat That...?"
I first saw
Little Miss Sunshine about 10 years ago and this scene still devestates me. In the scene above, Greg Kinnear's character passive-aggressively shames Abigail Breslin's character for eating ice cream and gives her her first real lesson in hating her body. So many women can tell you (with, sadly, vivid memory and excruciating detail) the first time someone did this to them. If they can't remember, it's likely because they got it so often it's difficult to pinpoint when it first occurred. Feminist dads are not Greg Kinnear in Little Miss Sunshine. (Though please: even if you don't consider yourself a feminist dad, don't be Greg Kinnear in Little Miss Sunshine. Ever.) Catcalling
Because feminist dads know that you don't get to call yourself a "feminist dad" if your daughter is the only woman in your life you treat with respect. Feminist dads know that their daughter is watching how he interacts with
all women; from the girl's mother, to her grandmother, to her aunt to her second cousin once removed to random women on the street. They're also not going to equate catcalling to someone's physical appearance, and package blatant harassment as a "compliment" that their daughter should be flattered by and thankful for. Just, no.
In short: feminist dads aren't perfect, but they're trying to make the world a little more perfect for their girls.