Actually, My Husband Takes Our Daughter Out On Dates Because He's A Feminist

By
Share

A few weeks ago, the story of a dad taking his daughter on dates went viral. The original poster said that her husband made a dinner date with their daughter, helped her pick out a dress, and took her out for a special evening. She said the result was that her daughter could see that she was special and would know what to expect from a romantic partner. Opinions ranged from outrage to admiration. Some women saw it as a way to ensure girls learned to conform to patriarchal norms. Others said the dates were a refreshing way to combat the angry feminist movement who is hell-bent on destroying the nuclear family.

Here’s the deal: I have two daughters, and my husband is a beer-swillin' man's man who wears business suits and smokes cigars. He is a total caricature of The Man, but he also happens to be a raging feminist. And so I think when you look really carefully at the daddy-daughter "date" debate, I think the biggest misunderstanding stems from what you define your feminism as.

My suit-wearing, cigar-smoking, bourbon-drinking, duck-hunting husband does take our daughters out on special one-on-one “dates”. He took our youngest to a monster truck rally last weekend to her absolute delight. They went out for pizza, and they had a special day where they connected. He opened her car door because she’s only 4, not because her tiny uterus made it impossible.

For me, and for true feminists, feminism is all about equality. We aren’t "man-hating ugly fatties" who like to whine and cry. That stereotype is damaging for the cause. And the cause is for all people. It’s for women and girls who are told that they aren’t good at math or who have a responsibility to sacrifice their careers for their families. But it’s also for boys and men who are ostracized and punished for playing with baby dolls or taking time off for the birth of their child. Feminists fight for the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community and for people of color, for marginalized communities and for those who have been sidelined into silence. The whole point of the movement is to get the world to see the person first and the adjectives second.

Courtesy of Crystal Henry

Feminism isn’t trying to destroy families or men in business suits. It’s meant to elevate all people and empower them to be equally valued and supported human beings. We just want everyone to be judged on the content of their character, not on the content of their underpants.

So my husband takes our daughters out on dates, and I don't have a problem with it. At all.

My suit-wearing, cigar-smoking, bourbon-drinking, duck-hunting husband does take our daughters out on special one-on-one “dates”. He took our youngest to a monster truck rally last weekend to her absolute delight. They went out for pizza, and they had a special day where they connected. He opened her car door because she’s only 4, not because her tiny uterus made it impossible. He held the door of the restaurant open for her, and then he stayed at the door and held it open for the guy and his wife who were coming in behind them because he’s a person, and he was teaching our daughter to be considerate. Pulling a chair out for someone isn’t sexist. Pulling a chair out for someone because they have ovaries is sexist. It’s the intent and the reasoning behind the gesture that determines whether it’s damaging.

My husband helped our daughter pick out her clothes, not because she needed his approval and modesty guidance — he’s not in charge of her chastity, nor is he trying to teach her to help boys control their dirty thoughts. He just helped her because his phone has information about the weather, and she wanted to wear a skirt and a tank top when it was 50 degrees outside. He helped her choose some kitty cat leggings to wear under her skirt to keep her legs warm, and she walked into that monster truck show looking sparkly and fabulous and ready to watch those beasts tear some sh*t up.

Courtesy of Crystal Henry
The problem with daddy-daughter dates isn’t that a father is spending special time with his daughter. Let me say that again: The problem isn’t spending special time or even doing nice things for your kids.

While they were watching trucks shoot flames out of their noses, I was also on a date. I took our oldest daughter to Barnes and Noble, and we spent three hours getting lost in the pages of our favorite books. I treated her to Starbucks, and naturally I paid for our drinks since the little 7-year-old freeloader has yet to get a steady job. I’m not modeling romantic behavior for her. If she goes out on a date with a girl or a boy, I’d like for her to offer to pay or split the check because generosity feels good. If the other person offers to pay, then I hope she accepts with gratitude just like she did on our date. She felt very special that I let her little basic-ass get a pumpkin spice latte with whip.

The problem with daddy-daughter dates isn’t that a father is spending special time with his daughter. Let me say that again: The problem isn’t spending special time or even doing nice things for your kids. It’s not horrible to pull out her chair. And it’s not evil to help her pick out her clothes. But the intentions behind those actions need to be clear.

Courtesy of Crystal Henry
So take that little girl to dinner because you want to hear about her day. Ask her what she wants to be when she grows up. What change does she want to bring to the world? What is she afraid of? What is she proud of? Take her on a date to let her know that she matters, and genuinely listen to what she has to say.

You pull out your daughter's chair to be kind, but don’t do it unless you’d do it for her brother. She isn’t weak. She doesn’t need guidance on how to look pretty for you. She is strong, and she needs encouragement to look in the mirror and love what she sees because it looks pretty to her. My daughter walked into that monster truck rally with the most mismatched cacophony of clothing articles. But my girl was there to kill it.

Daddy-daughter dates are great. Mommy-daughter dates are great. Father-son. Mother-son. Hell, I’ve offered to take my friend’s kid out for lunch just to let her know that another adult in her life values her. Feminists aren’t fat ugly man-hating pigs. We are gorgeous, strong women and men and non-binary people who are actually trying to treat all people with respect and decency.

Courtesy of Crystal Henry

So take that little girl to dinner because you want to hear about her day. Ask her what she wants to be when she grows up. What change does she want to bring to the world? What is she afraid of? What is she proud of? Take her on a date to let her know that she matters, and genuinely listen to what she has to say.

A date with your child is not supposed to show them how their romantic partners should treat them. That behavior should be modeled by you and your partner. Or by their grandparents, aunts and uncles, or any other adult couples in their lives. Romantic relationships should be different than familial relationships. And that line needs to be clearly drawn.

A dad does not need to model romantic behavior to his daughter. He needs to model that to his wife or husband. That’s where they learn how romantic partners treat them. They learn to be decent humans by the way their parents treat them. Hold the door for her because you want her to hold the door for the next guy coming in. Go on those dates with your kids. By all means, I can’t stress how important those one-on-one special moments are. But use those dates to model human behavior, not romantic behavior. Daddy-daughter dates don’t have to be gross or creepy, but they certainly can be if the intentions are wrong.