Here we go again: another day of my friend posting photos of his 12 year old daughter, and the slew of misogynistic comments that follow. How many of these are shared on his page weekly? I gave up counting.
“Oh, you’re going to be in trouble with her! Wait until the boys start showing up at your door!”
“Oh, don’t worry, I have a gun, an alibi, and a very good lawyer!”
“Oh, wow! She’s a beauty! You’re going to have your hands full in a few years when the boys start seeing it!”
“Don’t worry, her brother and I will keep the boys at bay!”
I could quote these conversations for days, but what’s the point? All they will accomplish is getting me angrier.
I hardly know where to start with what I find wrong with this tidal wave of posts.
- We are talking about a TWELVE YEAR OLD CHILD! Even if she’s consented to having her photos shared on social media, I highly doubt she’s consented to being sexualized, and owned by anyone.
- This is a grown man talking about not wanting any boys to be interested in his child. He’s saying that he, and his son will “keep her safe.” Let’s break this down a bit: How would he feel if HE were treated this way by his partner’s parents when he was younger? How would he feel about his SON being treated like a criminal for being interested in a girl?
- What if the girl isn’t cis gender, or straight? Will her LGBTQ2A+ partners be subjected to such unfair treatment?
- At what point will this girl be “allowed” to “date,” or “have a relationship” without the involvement of her father, and brother?
- By not allowing her to date when she is emotionally, psychologically, and physically ready, will she A) hide her relationships, which could lead to very toxic partners, and relationships, B) deny herself any possible joy in life because she has been trained to believe that all boys, and men are total jerks who will ruin her life (Well, yeah, if they treat her this way, they will!), C) never trust herself to make relationship decisions because the men in her life always have to control her thoughts, feelings, and decisions, D) feel confusion and guilt for wanting what she’s told is terrible for her, even though relationships are a natural part of most people’s lives?
- Placing this unjust burden of guilt on boys only perpetuates toxic masculinity by reinforcing the ideas that “boys and men only want sex,” rather than teaching all young people, of all genders, and sexual identities how to be respectful, safe, and loving in healthy, consensual relationships.
- There is an entire industry, and socialized standard that promotes “Dads Against Daughters Dating” which includes T-shirts with slogans such as the one featured above, as well as others listing the “Rules for Dating MY Daughter,” all of which imply that the daughter will be cis gender, straight, and that the boy who wants to date her needs to know that the father makes all decisions for his daughter’s mind, and body. The father is in control. The father will physically HARM, if not MURDER the boy if he even thinks about the girl sexually.
Where does this leave us? Well, for one thing, not all daughters are cis gender, and straight. Not all daughters will be interested in dating young men. That’s one huge misconception that needs to be blown right out of the atmosphere. Secondly, we need to focus in on the damage that this archaic, misogynistic attitude is creating with relationships of every sort.
- No child is owned by their parents/guardians.
- Our goal as parents/guardians is to ensure that our children are as functional, and independent as possible for their lifestyles, needs, and abilities.
- It is our responsibility as adults to teach our children how to be in safe, loving, consensual relationships. Rather than teaching girls that boys only want sex, (Which only perpetuates rape culture, and doesn’t even touch upon the fact that girls are also sexual beings with cravings, desires, and needs that deserve to be explored!) we need to ensure that everyone involved understands the true meaning of consent, knows how to deal with rejection, understands that “NO MEANS NO!” along with the idea that “No” can be said in many non-verbal ways as well as with words.
- It is our responsibility as adults to ensure that children respect and appreciate their bodies, and their decisions within the morals that we are teaching them, but most importantly within the morals that they are developing for themselves. We need to ensure that young adults are aware of their thoughts, feelings, and desires as well as how to engage in their choices safely, consensually, and respectfully.
- It’s time to let go of the archaic idea that a female’s virginity is a prize for a man. It’s time to let go of the idea that her virginity needs to be protected, and given to someone as a gift on a wedding night, or as a sign of purity.
- We need to respect a female’s decisions for her own thoughts, and body.
- We need to recognize a female’s sexuality, desires, and needs.
- We need to stop sexualizing children. Stop asking young children, and teens if they have a boyfriend/girlfriend. Stop dressing babies, and toddlers in clothing with ridiculous sayings that promote unhealthy and only cis gender, or straight relationships.
- Start recognizing that both males, and females can contribute to toxic relationships.
- Stop pressuring young males to live in fear of adult men!
- Stop training young men to become controlling adult men who believe that they own their women’s bodies, and decisions!
- Start encouraging conversations between generations.
- Start inviting your child’s dating interest into your home and actually invest time in getting to know them.
- Start trusting your child to make the right decisions in life by teaching them how to be kind, caring, respectful, empathetic, and how to listen.
- Start building connections with your children, rather than instilling fear in them and creating reasons for them to hide their lives from you.
- Start celebrating your child’s rights of passage, rather than denying them joy in life.
My favourite counter argument to the “Dads Against Daughters Dating” movement is this shirt:
This is what we need more of! This is the attitude that we need to perpetuate for generations moving forward. The only thing that could make this shirt 100% perfect would be if the word “daughter” was replaced by “child,” and gender pronouns were neutral because, let’s face it, we live in a world with more than boys, and girls. Most of all, we live in a world where everyone is entitled to a safe, healthy, consensual relationship.