Feminist fathers’ shirt

feminist fathers

I confess I’m often shocked seeing men of my age and acquaintance making joking remarks about rules for dating their daughters. Often these take the shape of comics posted to Facebook. They might mention the dad having a black belt or a weapon.

Really?  Really?

This is the first one I’ve liked.

The shirt is available here.

20 thoughts on “Feminist fathers’ shirt

  1. Is it all that shocking that a parent would make rules for their minor children concerning sex and other significant life choices? I don’t understand the source of shock, though I’m sure some of the rules people come up with might be shocking in various ways, but the idea of parenting seems appropriate. Should a parent not forbid their child from doing drugs too?

  2. OK. Those are dumb and troubling in various ways.

    The original post didn’t convey that and the shirt certainly suggest parents shouldn’t make rules about sex for their minor children.

  3. #3 Anonymous: dead on.

    The age and maturity of the daughter is important here, obviously. One of my daughters is an emotional, boy crazy kid. I’ll be making the rules in her case, even though I fully understand that she may not follow them. Another daughter is thoughtful, principled and cautious. She gets more room to room to live her life.

    Even if a father who considers himself a feminist would help his daughter more by playing the assertive, rule-setting patriarch for two reasons: 1) a teenage boy is more likely to respect that authority than the daughter’s wishes and 2) teenage girls are kids; they often don’t think clearly, so in the face of unwanted pressure from a boy, a father’s “rules” gives her a way out.

    I can see that the shirt would appeal to feminists for ideological reasons, as practical matter, it’s not such a good idea.

  4. Did you read Dear Daughter: I Hope You Have Awesome Sex, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ferrett-steinmetz/dear-daughter-i-hope-you-have-awesome-sex_b_3755185.html, from the Good Men Project? It’s also written in response to these lists.

    “There’s a piece of twaddle going around the internet called 10 Rules For Dating My Daughter, which is packed with “funny” threats like this:

    “Rule Four: I’m sure you’ve been told that in today’s world, sex without utilising some kind of ‘barrier method’ can kill you. Let me elaborate: when it comes to sex, I am the barrier, and I will kill you.”

    All of which boil down to the tedious, “Boys are threatening louts, sex is awful when other people do it, and my daughter is a plastic doll whose destiny I control.”

    Look, I love sex. It’s fun. And because I love my daughter, I want her to have all of the same delights in life that I do, and hopefully more. I don’t want to hear about the fine details because, heck, I don’t want those visuals any more than my daughter wants mine. But in the abstract, darling, go out and play.

    Because consensual sex isn’t something that men take from you; it’s something you give. It doesn’t lessen you to give someone else pleasure. It doesn’t degrade you to have some of your own. And anyone who implies otherwise is a man who probably thinks very poorly of women underneath the surface.”

  5. PSdan, I’m pretty sure the problem with fathers making these rules is that (in the case where the daughter’s potential dates are boys), dating *her* starts to seem a lot like a transaction between two men, the father and the date. That’s the sense I get from a lot of those “rules for dating my daughter” jokes, which really creep me out and are extremely dehumanizing. They could just as easily be “rules for borrowing my lawnmower”.

    Nothing about the shirt precludes a father setting rules with and for his daughter about dating and sex or whatever. The shirt is about the trope of a father setting rules *for his daughter’s date*. You acknowledge that “a teenage boy is more likely to respect the authority of [the father] than the daughter’s wishes”. That’s often true, and its TERRIFYING! The point of this shirt is to try to remedy that—to put the authority of the father *behind* his daughter’s wishes concerning her body, because the latter is the thing that deserves respect.

  6. There is obviously no clear cut line here. Maturity varies, but I guess I just don’t see it in general. Obviously, a person’s body is their body, but a child is a child and not afforded the same rights as an adult. And that is appropriate. And parents should make rules for their children, as they deem appropriate.

    Definitely, a lot of those rules are seedy or otherwise troubling, but the shirt clearly implies there should be no rules made by a parent: “She makes the rules. Her body, her rules.” A fourteen year old, for instance, typically has little business making rules for how his or her body is to be used in potentially dangerous or life-altering activities. They’re not mature enough.

  7. LookItsZee

    I get your point. Mine is that respect for a girl’s (or woman’s) autonomy and control over her body is accomplished most effectively if it starts with a boy understanding that there is an assertive male authority “behind” the girl, as you put it. The shirt doesn’t do that; it explicitly says it’s all about the girl.

    Re your terrifying point — remember, he’s a child, capable of all manner of clumsiness, stupidity and selfishness. Male parental authority helps to get him from that state to one of conscientious respect for girls and women. As repugnant as it may sound, too much zeal in diminishing patriarchal behavior isn’t good for girls or women, and a father who considers himself a feminist can lose sight of that, to the detriment of his girls.

  8. PSDan, I think I’d venture to say that respect for a woman’s autonomy when derivative of respect for a male authority isn’t truly respect for the woman’s autonomy at all. It’s respect for male authority that merely instantiates itself as behavior consistent with respect for women, but not constitutive of it. I think playing into that for practical reasons is very likely to perpetuate the deeper problem.

  9. PSDan “a teenage boy is more likely to respect the authority of [the father] than the daughter’s wishes” is exactly the problem, as previously stated. As long as we as a society continue to negate a woman’s right to control her body and as long as we as a society condone the behavior of those that want to take her power away, we are not going to have a solution. Using the argument that teens are children is a cop out. They can be educated, as can all of society, to understand respect for the individual. It is something we are very, very, very far away from achieving, but it’s how a compassionate, intelligent and educated society would operate. The fact that this concept is so very foreign to most, the concept that respect for the rights of others would be inherent in our norms and mores, is a source of great sadness to me.

  10. Funny thing, I never see Dad make a list like this for girls dating his sons This was cute twenty years ago, when it first became a thing, and then a TV show. But now? It’s just the same old double-standard for girls and it has long worn out it’s funny factor. Let it go guys. Oh – and now that my kid are all very grown, the women have caused my sons much more pain than the men have caused my daughter.

  11. The shirts are both stupid. In no way is “her body, her rules” an appropriate standard for a fourteen-year-old, any more than “you need my permission to date my daughter” is an appropriate standard for a twenty-year-old. That’s the problem.

  12. To the anonymous commenter who insists repeatedly that teenagers are too young to make their own decisions:
    By all means, tell your daughter “I don’t want you having sex until you’re eighteen”. Chances are she won’t listen to you without an explanation, and chances are she’ll roll her eyes and inform you that the age of consent exists for a reason, but that’s not the issue here. The issue is that those “Rules for dating my daughter” shirts are skipping over the daughter entirely. Your daughter is a person who needs to learn to make her own decisions, and a father and boyfriend making decisions for her without her input is not going to help her learn to make decisions.
    Teach your fourteen-year-old that her body is her own and that she should take care of it responsibly. Teach her about the emotional and physical effects of having sex so that she can make informed decisions. Teach her to wait until she’s sure she’s ready. Teach her that she, not her boyfriend, not her peers, is responsible for her actions and her body. Give her responsibility, and she will live up to it. When I was fourteen, the doctor suggested a meningitis vaccine. My parents went through the pros and cons with me, then told me “Your body, your decision”. When I asked them if they’d have said the same thing about sex, they said yes. My parents instilled in me from an early age a sense of bodily autonomy and responsibility towards myself, and that is what made me comfortable and confident in telling my boyfriends that, no, I didn’t want to have sex with them. I’m nineteen now, and still a virgin, because I was raised to know that it’s my choice and to recognize whether or not I’m ready. You can’t raise your daughter to think that you are in charge of her body and then when she’s eighteen suddenly say “Okay, you’re on your own now”. She won’t know how to handle that freedom, because you never taught her how to be responsible for herself.
    Trying to keep your kids from doing stupid things is all well and good, but turning it into a pissing contest between father and boyfriend does nothing but perpetuate the idea that women are property to be bartered over. Might as well add three goats and a camel while you’re at it.

  13. To the anonymous commenter who insists repeatedly that teenagers are too young to make their own decisions:
    By all means, tell your daughter “I don’t want you having sex until you’re eighteen”. Chances are she won’t listen to you without an explanation, and chances are she’ll roll her eyes and inform you that the age of consent exists for a reason, but that’s not the issue here. The issue is that those “Rules for dating my daughter” shirts are skipping over the daughter entirely. Your daughter is a person who needs to learn to make her own decisions, and a father and boyfriend making decisions for her without her input is not going to help her learn to make decisions.
    Teach your fourteen-year-old that her body is her own and that she should take care of it responsibly. Teach her about the emotional and physical effects of having sex so that she can make informed decisions. Teach her to wait until she’s sure she’s ready. Teach her that she, not her boyfriend, not her peers, is responsible for her actions and her body. Give her responsibility, and she will live up to it. When I was fourteen, the doctor suggested a meningitis vaccine. My parents went through the pros and cons with me, then told me “Your body, your decision”. When I asked them if they’d have said the same thing about sex, they said yes. My parents instilled in me from an early age a sense of bodily autonomy and responsibility towards myself, and that is what made me comfortable and confident in telling my boyfriends that, no, I didn’t want to have sex with them. I’m nineteen now, and still a virgin, because I was raised to know that it’s my choice and to recognize whether or not I’m ready. You can’t raise your daughter to think that you are in charge of her body and then when she’s eighteen suddenly say “Okay, you’re on your own now”. She won’t know how to handle that freedom, because you never taught her how to be responsible for herself.
    Trying to keep your kids from doing stupid things is all well and good, but turning it into a pissing contest between father and boyfriend does nothing but perpetuate the idea that women are property to be bartered over. Might as well add three goats and a camel while you’re at it.

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