In honor of Father’s Day, this is a tribute to my Dad, and all the other men like him. In a world that too often teaches girls to be meek, objectifies women’s bodies and relegates the female experience to the sidelines, the men who do exactly the opposite merit recognition.
This is for the fathers of strong girls who grow up to be strong women—the fathers who didn’t raise princesses.
Fathers who trusted their daughters to stay home alone, go out alone, travel alone and figure out life alone, but who were there if we needed them. Thanks to you, we learned the art of self-possession and self-care from an early age.
This is for the fathers who always said we were capable of doing things for ourselves, whether it was tying shoelaces, writing a paper or carrying a heavy load. (Sometimes, you help someone most by letting them find their own way through challenges.) Your daughters are the women who proudly refuse help from overly chivalrous men—they are the ones who understand that condescension is no gift.
This is for the men who treated their daughters like their sons (or rather, treated their children like children)—with equal respect. By including both in the same hikes, adventures and backyard ball games—you showed us first-hand what equality of the sexes looks like and so we learned to expect the same from the world.
Finally, this is for the fathers who gave us the trust, the confidence, the love and the space to be ourselves, even if you worried at our choices—even if you might have chosen otherwise.
Your daughters never once wanted to be anything but what they were—that kind of strength is a precious gift.
You are the fathers who gave us a bike and taught us to use it, who taught us to drive and handed us the keys and who showed us the world, then opened the door so we could find it for ourselves.
You are the World’s Best Dads who really deserve the title today. You raised a generation of women who know how to say “yes” to life but “no” to inequality. You are the rare few who raised girls to know their worth.
Fathers of strong daughters, I am blessed to claim you as my own. Without you, the road to claiming our power might have been much longer and our understanding of respect, confidence and independence much slower.
Thank you for opening the door to a world I want to live in. Thank you for giving us the highest bar of love by which to measure everyone else.
On this day, and every other, your impact is cherished.
Relephant: The Qualities to look for in a Life-mate.
Author: Toby Israel
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock
Photo: Tony Alter at Flickr