A friend sent me a HuffPo link yesterday, with a request: “Looking for you to put words to why exactly I find this kind of offensive???” The article was titled: Navy SEAL’s Intimidating Rules For Dating His Daughter Go Viral. “As of Monday afternoon, the [Navy SEAL’s Facebook post on fatherhood] has been shared over 4,500 times and has almost 40,000 ‘likes.'”
Let me save you the trouble of reading; it is the same tired crap that shows up in every movie and tv show you’ve ever seen in which the punchline is “whew! dads of daughters, amirite??!” Basically, this:
With the added bonus that Navy SEAL Dad’s daughter is currently 2 years old.
Short answer (to the “why am I kinda offended???” question): Because men who speak this way about their daughters share the basic belief structure of rapists. Namely, that women’s bodies belong to men.
Even some of the thumbs-up crowd recognizes there’s a problem here. One woman commented on the original post:
“I know this is how daddies feel about their little girls and the comments are very funny….But in reality, if you treat her the way you want these boys to treat her, she will make good choices. Give her the respect she needs to grow into a well adjusted, confident young woman. Love the sense of humor portrayed here though!”
Let’s be clear. It is not cute, funny, or sweet when men talk about how they will (or do) “protect” their daughters by intimidating or threatening other men. It is not loving. It is not harmless.
This is seriously toxic shit.
This is about a grown man looking at the toddler running around his house in diapers, maybe smooshed banana in her whispy hair, and thinking: “Someday another man is going to want to fondle her genitals.” (Sorry, did that sound a touch graphic and creepy? Good. IT IS.)
Nor is the remedy to this kind of language (even if meant as a “joke”) to say, “Of course you feel that way! But just raise her right, and then you can trust her to make good decisions!” Her decision-making skills never enter into the “Rules for Dating My Daughter” trope. This discourse doesn’t recognize her body as a legitimate area for her to even make decisions about.
Depending on how compartmentalized a person’s thinking is, a man who espouses this sort of crap may be an absolute dick of a father in all ways–or he may be loving and supportive and proud…right up to the point where she asserts a right to her own autonomous, sexual self. Both these ways of fathering are poison.
There’s a photo running around the internet of a man wearing a “Feminist Father” tshirt. The back of the shirt reads:
- I DON’T MAKE THE RULES
- YOU DON’T MAKE THE RULES
- SHE MAKES THE RULES
- HER BODY, HER RULES
I almost included a screen shot of that here. A My name is Alice Isak, and I approve this tshirt kinda thing.
And then I thought: Fuck that.
I like the shirt. It’s a cute talk-back to the standard Rules for Dating, and I do approve of its message. I think it’s what everybody should think and say and how we should all behave. I am just NOT IN THE MOOD today to give out cookies for dudes saying shit that should be obvious. (Also, I gave you a link. Use that, if you somehow missed this picture the 497th time it got posted on Facebook and are now curious.)
It is not Super Parenting to treat your sons and daughters the same. It does not win you Father (or Mother) of the Year to acknowledge that no one but your kid–whatever their gender–gets to say who can (and who cannot) fondle their naughty bits, and under what circumstances.
It’s just what we all need to know.