Growing up I was lucky. We weren’t rich, but my parents always made sure there was presents under the tree for me and my two brothers, food on our table, heat to keep us warm in the winter, and so on. But the most important thing I have been lucky for is my dad. Now, that’s not to say that I am lucky for my mom, my grandparents, etc. They played a key part in how I was raised too, but my dad contributed in a way that I don’t think he ever noticed or if he did, he never made it a point to say so. He encouraged me to be a strong, independent woman. So did my mom, and my grandparents, and my aunt but this is a male figure that gave me this idea that a strong woman isn’t a bad thing to be. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Don’t all dad’s do that?” and maybe some do, but not like my dad did.
Ever since I was a little girl my father told me, “Brooke, if anything ever happened to me I have no doubt in my mind that your mother would be able to handle everything on her own, she’s the strongest person I know.” And for a very long time, even to this day, that stuck with me. It stuck with me that a man had said to me that a woman was strong and independent and that it wasn’t a bad thing. He never put a negative stigma about a woman being independent or strong, or is opinionated. Whenever he and my mom would get in an argument, he never put weight on his opinion over hers because she was a woman; he gave careful thought to what she had to say. I asked him, "How would you feel if Mom made more money than you?" and he responded, "Who cares, she works hard and it's all going to the same place." I don't think he realized the amount of weight that was behind these words (in a good way of course), it was just what he believed and that was beyond important to me.
My dad is someone I have always looked up to (even though I look him in the eyes now). He was my protector, the person who would make me laugh if I was having a hard time, the person that when I was feeling pessimistic would radiate optimism and happiness because he knew that’s what I needed. He was someone that when he said something, I knew he meant it. He treated my brothers and I as equals not as me being lesser because I was a woman and they were men. Every time he gave me advice, I took it to heart, so for him to teach me that a woman could be strong, she can be independent, that her opinion matters just as much as the man in the same room as her, it was the most precious thing I could have ever asked for. I know that if I ever had a moment where I felt less than I should feel, he would be right in my corner lifting me back up again.
So, to all the fathers out there that teach their daughters, and even sons, that women can be strong, independent, and that their opinions matters, thank you. You are teaching us that being strong isn’t “bitchy” or “threatening” or "bossy", it is a quality that we’re allowed to have, and allowed to feel. That we should never feel lesser, or feel that our opinion is lesser because we are a woman. And to my own father, Dad, without you telling me all these years that my opinion was important, and that I am strong, and that I’m allowed to be independent and accomplish things on my own, I wouldn’t be where I am today. We need more people, not just men, like you in the world backing me and all the other women that need it most, especially in a political climate such as this one. I hope one day I can be half the person you are. I love you, and thank you for all the things you have done for me and for rooting for the women of your life and the women around the world.