Does Daddy always know best?

I always thought that I was a feminist, but since having a daughter, I now feel like I need to buy a bra and burn it in a defiant show of solidarity against the man!

OK, so that may be exaggerating a little, but you get my drift.

So it has been pleasing to see women’s rights progressing in different ways. Take sports, specifically the growing professionalism of women’s sports in Australia. I have no idea what sports that my little girl will get into – I’m hoping for cricket and soccer, and no netball – but seeing many sports now with professional women’s leagues coming up makes me happy to think that my little girl will probably have that option open to her, if she is talented and wants to do it.

In short, I take the view that I don’t want to see any barriers put between my little girl and what she wants to do. I want to see her flourish, and nurture her abilities to be a contributor to society in whatever form that takes. Sure, she will have to choose wisely what to pursue and what not to, but as I see my role as her dad, it is to support her to achieve her dreams.

Which was why I was dismayed by the article that I read today by CR Wiley, subtly titled ‘How to Make Sure Your Highly Educated Daughter Doesn’t Have to Freeze Her Eggs

OK, so you got my attention, Mr Wiley.

Here’s a small excerpt

In this cacophony providing guidance to children is one of the more important roles of a father.

Clearly many fathers are letting their daughters down in this regard. What I see more and more is highly intelligent, well-educated women, who have everything that they’ve been told they should want, but who are miserable nonetheless.

The misery is usually due to their singleness and childlessness.

 BTW, the bolding isn’t mine – it was in the piece.

And on it went into how Wiley was counselling his daughter away from pursuing a college major in literature at a great university to a double-major at another college where she could also do entrepreneurship and help out in her brother’s business. Oh, and doing that would also mean that she would meet better husband and therefore father material.

OH. MY. GOSH.

In equal measures of disbelief and rage, I was getting a clear message from the author that ‘Daddy knows what’s best for his daughters, no matter what the age or decision.’

And the other strong message was not to pursue your dreams, as you’ll end up regretting not following your true calling of popping out kids.

At the end of reading it, I felt sorry for his daughter.

I felt sorry that, even though she is an adult, her father felt the need to direct her future career path.

I felt sorry that her father was making marriage and children out to be the main aims of a woman’s life.

And the worst part is that the writer, writing on an evangelical Christian blog, seems to feel that in doing all that, he’s standing up for Christian values.

I did some quick research and found that the writer has indeed written a book that calls for a return to how family structures have been in the past. It seems that there is a whole lot of revisionist history in his writing, and more than a few broad-brush statements about the “failures” of modern “liberal” society.

What I find a little more disturbing is how, in privileging marriage and kids for women, he seems to ignore that Jesus and the apostle Paul actually advocated that unmarried people shouldn’t be in a hurry to marry, or even at all. Which makes me think that for some singleness is OK, even for women, and perhaps there is too much of a focus in evangelical subculture on finding a mate and making babies.

In fact, in my own experience – which is not prescriptive – it was only when I was able to find contentment in my singleness that I was actually best placed to enter into the relationship that is now my marriage.

Perhaps my view is also being amplified by watching the recent TV adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale – a novel that I studied in high school literature. It is a dystopian story of a woman who is forced into state-sanctioned rape for the benefit of producing babies in a twisted theocracy called Gilead.

That is the last thing that I want for my daughter. If she marries and has children, that’s great. If she has the talent to be a sports star, or the mind of leading scientist or academic, or anything else that contributes to the flourishing of society – that’s also great.

But those are not my decisions to make – they are my daughter’s. I hope that I can provide some guidance, and that she will trust that, but ultimately I want her to make. And that means that she may make some bad choices, hopefully ones that she will learn from.

Yes, I want to have influence in my girl’s life, but at the same time perhaps, as I am not her, Daddy doesn’t always know best.

Mum, on the other hand…

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