Lifestyle

Daddy-O: How my baby girl forced me to become a feminist

Having a daughter has made one dad aware that all is not quite equal in this world.
Having a daughter has made one dad aware that all is not quite equal in this world. Digital Vision.

IN THE middle of my loungeroom there is a pastel pink tee-pee. It is new. Inside it is a tiny sheepskin rug, a small pile of Minnie Mouse books about "fashion" and "vacations" and "winter" and pages scrawled with purple ink.

These are the playthings of the tiny human girl who arrived into my world less than two years ago, and who has left no part of the house free of dolls, blankies, onesies, hairties and cheap plastic bouncy balls.

There is a ruthless efficiency to daughters. They are a swarm of Sherman tanks that roll into your life and blow it apart. Your sleep is upset, your routines ruined.

Your pre-baby ideas of peace and quiet are replaced with the screams of new life. And in my case, you evolve into a raging feminist. We are now about 20 months in.

Her fledgling humanity forces me to confront the kind of dad I want to be and the kind of man I am. Not long after bub was born, I slipped out of the house to hunt for coffee, food and to escape the burdens of parenthood. It was maybe 4pm on a weekday. The street was busy-ish with the post-school rush.

A car slowed down almost in front of me so the driver could whistle and yell at a girl across the road - I say girl because she was maybe 14 or 15? She was in a school uniform.

The cowardly dimwit wolf-whistled then yelled, "Hey baby, wanna come for a ride?", then sped away. It was over in a few seconds, but I remember the look on the teen's face. Shock and fear.

How old will my daughter be when someone says something like that to her? Not long after that I read a post on Reddit asking women, "When did you notice men were looking at you in a sexual way. How old were you and how did it make you feel?"

There were about 21,000 responses. One was 12 and in a video store when a guy commented on her arse. Another was 14 when a guy rubbed his genitals against her on a train.

I figured most were over-exaggerations if not outright lies so I asked my wife. She was 12 when a guy leered at her then said, "Hey baby, want a lift?"

It's hard not to be a raging feminist dad when you realise what your daughter will almost certainly face one day - that fear that comes from a creep thinking she's public property.

Then you hear a buffoon senator say that some "girls" think being wolf-whistled "is wonderful" and that sexual harassment laws go too far.

It's hard to imagine any law going too far when it comes to protecting the ones we care about.

She may be a Sherman tank and she may be strong enough to fight, but I still want to keep her away from the front lines.

Tweet @Owenjay or find him on Facebook at Owen Jacques: Journalist

Topics:  editors picks feminism misogyny opinion owen jacques parenting sexism


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