At midnight on Feb 15th, 2016, I got a call from my dad. Sometimes he calls for serious things like family emergencies or to remind me that I left a scented candle lit and unattended in my room, again. Other times he calls me for silly things like to remind me that I need to send him energy on Criminal Case, or to FaceTime me just to remind me what my ceiling fan back home looks like. This time around he called me so that I could tune in to CNN and watch episode 6 of its series ‘The Seventies’, entitled Battle of the Sexes, Feminism Makes Waves.
“I saw it on the tv guide and it made me think of you, I know you’re into this stuff.”
I pulled up my laptop and live-streamed the episode.
As per CNN.com,
“Sex was everywhere in the 1970s. As a generation of women became liberated in their sexual identities, they wanted that liberation to extend beyond the bedroom… They want equal pay for equal work, and a chance at jobs traditionally reserved for men only… free access to good jobs -- and decent pay for the bad ones women have been performing all along.”
In watching the hour- long program, none of this female- empowering language was foreign to me. I had heard it all before. It was not as if watching this show made me suddenly want to speak up against sexism and burn my bra in realization. It was simply a confirmation of some of the things I always believed in and knew, before I even knew what the word “Feminism” meant. If today I am anything of a “Feminist”, I have my dad to thank for that.
the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.
My father always says “You can do anything a boy can do, and knowing you, you can do it better”. This applied to everything- school, driving, handshakes, even knowing how to throw a punch. My dad has always challenged me to be a stronger, better version of myself. The father of just two girls, he’s always been conscious of my “girlieness.” He knows I hate sports and the outdoors, and he never shames me for it. He knows I love dresses and make- up and small dogs, and he never shames me for it. He knows that sometimes I won’t even wear a bra to class, and he never shames me for it. He never begrudges me my interests and passions- whether they be sappy romantic literature or rap music. He knows I can have a more vulgar mouth than any guy, and he never shames me for it. (Except I’ve gotten threatened with a bar of soap once, or twice, or three times...) Dad accepts me for the kind of woman I am, no matter how “feminine” I choose to be or not be on a given day. That doesn’t matter to him, just like it shouldn’t matter to anyone else.
My dad knows I have a big personality, a big mouth, and an even bigger attitude. He tells me “If a boy can’t handle you, he’s not good enough for you. Never change for any guy”. I don’t have to marry the first guy I hook up with. I don't have to marry any guy I hook up with. I don’t have to do anything with anyone if I don’t feel like it. My body is my own and it’s my right to do as I please. I can say yes and no whenever I want to, and I can change my mind at any time. I was brought up knowing I don’t owe anybody anything except myself. Dad taught me that I don’t need live my life dependent on someone else when I work hard.
To me, Feminism represents a woman’s desire to be independent and free in all aspects of her life, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t prefer it when my boyfriend holds the door open, and it doesn’t mean I’ll ever walk curbside down the street. It doesn’t mean that I don’t love being given flowers, or that I’m not a Daddy’s Girl. That’s fine. That doesn’t make me any less of an enlightened, empowered woman because I like certain things that guys do for women. Being a Feminist does not mean being a man- hater. It just means that I have preferences in regards to my relations with the opposite gender of my choosing that no person or societal construct has thrust upon me. I’ve experienced having these things done unto me by men, and have also experienced when they have not been done unto me. I can do them on my own, and I do do them on my own. Some may call me a fair- weather Feminist for even admitting that I let men do things for me that I am very well capable of doing myself. Feminism is not the same for me as it is for other people, and that’s fine too. To me, part of the power of Feminism is having enough confidence in oneself to know when and where to draw the line with others.
Some fathers might belittle their daughters or dissuade them from ideas that are foreign to them or might be too “radical”. Instead, my daddy chooses to embrace them. We don’t always agree on everything. In fact, we disagree on a lot of things. But one thing we can agree on is that I am a strong woman. I have a strong dad. It takes a good father to jump on the Feminist bandwagon with a positive point of view. My father respects my interest in self- preservation as a member of the female sex. He recognizes my values and concerns as a woman and wants to get closer to me by learning more about them. He respects who I am and doesn’t try to change me to make me more “agreeable” to the world. He knows I can handle a condescending comment from someone who doesn’t agree with me. My father doesn’t cringe at my snarky Feminist apparel- he nods his head in knowing approval and thinks about the statements that I’m making.
Actually, I think my dad is one of the biggest Feminists I know. After all, Feminism isn’t just for women: it’s for everybody.
Hey dad, let’s have a bra burning party together sometime. Who needs guys anyway, am I right?
Image Credit: Wandy Ortiz