A former Lutheran pastor sharing thoughts on faith and life. Please join the conversation! I love your comments!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Daddies Don't Let Your Daughters Grow Up To Be Oggled

It truly is difficult to walk in someone else's shoes.  Unless you happen to wear exactly the same size.  Just kidding.  Of course I am talking figuratively, as in, imagining what it would be like to be in someone else's situation.  No matter how hard we try, we can never know exactly what life is like for someone else.  So, it is not surprising that most people who take it upon themselves to fight racism are of a minority race.  Most feminists are female.  Most Occupy Movement folks are unemployed or struggling financially.  This is all natural.  Our hearts will be most moved by those causes that affect us directly.  But, boy is it powerful when people take up causes that do not affect them directly or even when they are part of the cause or could be negatively affected by a change.  Consider how much news time Warren Buffet has received.  What wonders could happen if we could stretch ourselves to embrace causes that don't impact our lives directly?  What could happen if we stood up for what was right even outside of our self-interest?

Sometimes we wouldn't even have to stretch ourselves too far.  Consider what would happen if daddies everywhere united to make sure their daughters' didn't have to put up with sexism and rampant sexualization.  So often as parents we have little power to protect our children.  This is one time when I don't believe that is the case.  As parents we can choose not to buy products that sexualize little girls.  As parents we can let our children know that they can be whoever they want to be regardless of their gender.  Moms and grandmas and aunts can do these things and, surely, I hope they do.  But because these are "women's issues" it will be even more powerful if daddies, grandpas, and uncles take a stand too.  To all the testosterone endowed out there: think about what kind of world you want your daughters or granddaughters or future daughter-in-laws to live in and then do what you can to create an environment where that kind of world can grow.  It can be as simple as playing catch.  Encouraging your daughter in sports, just as much as you would a son, communicates to her that she can be strong, she can compete, she can indeed do anything the boys can do.  If she doesn't become a sports enthusiast that is fine, but make space for her to learn that exercise is healthy, can be fun and isn't just about making her body pretty.  Give her experience that will let her know immediately that it is baloney when someone says pink and pretty is for girls and sports are for boys.  Or if you are more of a handy man, buy her a set of tools, just like you would if she were a boy, and teach her how to use them.  Let your daughter see you doing things outside of traditional gender roles too.  Cook with her.  Clean with her.  And remember that how you treat your wife may impact how your daughter lets some guy treat her someday.

Then, if you really want to stretch yourself, check out this website:  http://blog.pigtailpals.com/  Here you will find more food for thought.  You may not agree with it all but it is worth considering.  I particularly like this post http://blog.pigtailpals.com/2011/08/a-letter-to-bella-and-other-girls-with-blue-shoes/

We all have the power to change our world for the better.  Sometimes we have more power if we stand up for others than if we stand up for ourselves.

Of course, I realize there are issues for parenting boys too.  And yes I realize moms can play catch with their daughters.  But there is only so much one can say in one blog post before some of us (namely me) run out of attention span.

So, let's wrap it up with a song.  Cue music:  Daddies don't let your daughters grow up to be oggled ...by cowboys?  It seems like there were cowboys in there somewhere.  How does that song go? ; )


Lynn Schlosser said...

So my thoughts immediately jump to pornography. How much would our world change if every daughter's father did his part to see that women weren't objectified? Thanks for the link. Good food for thought!

Wanda Nelson said...

Our daughter definitely did not allow herself to be oggled. She was what was commonly termed a "tomboy". She was surrounded with boys, and she was very comfortable with that: she just thought of boys as other people. We lived on a farm, and she had only a brother to play with; there were only boys in her Sunday School class and in her class at school. In fact, she would be one of the first to be chosen when they chose up teams at school. She definitely was one of the guys.

But when she was young, her father took her brother (3 years younger) with him when he worked in the shop. He and his father did all of the mechanical work on their machinery. It really bothered me that he did not take our daughter as well, and I insisted that he include her. She could learn about using tools and how machines worked, as well as her brother.

When she left home at age 18 and lived 250 miles away in Kansas City, she was able to call home and talk to her father about any mechanical problems with her car. She would then understand the problem before she took it to a mechanical shop to be looked at. It definitely turned into an economic factor for her.

While she was still in Kansas City, one evening when she and a group of girls from work were at a popular restaurant in the Plaza, she excused herself to use the restroom. When she came out of the stall, there stood a young man. She slammed the door to the stall and demanded, "What are you doing in here?" He replied, "I wanted to meet you." She said, "This is not the way!", and brushed right past him. I think her attitude about her equality to males really played a part for her then and contributed highly to her safety. I certainly don't want to diminish God's role in this. This could have turned out very differently. But she would have put up a good fight, and the Lord would have been right there with her, I have no doubt.

Teaching our girls to respect themselves and teaching them that they don't have to allow boys or men to overstep their personal boundaries is highly important. Our daughter's life shows first hand some very tangible reasons why we need to teach our daughters to respect themselves. This is part of a parent's love. It is incumbent on both fathers and mothers, and sometimes it starts with mothers teaching fathers.

Our daughter at age 50+ now relates to both little girls and little boys at elementary school. She deems it one of her missions in life. And she still requires that little boys respect little girls there. And if she comes into a nose to nose confrontation with some little boy, he knows there is true power behind her words and the finger in his face. If he's smart or even perceptive, he will realize that little girls sooner or later become big gitls.

Sheri Ellwood said...

Lynn, pornography is an issue I was thinking of too. I think folks still think it is just sort of amusing. It is not. It is part of the whole industry of sex and has devastating effects on marriages.
Wanda, thanks for sharing that story. Women can do amazing things when we have great family to support us and teach us. It helps a bit to be on a farm too. A few more opportunities to break out of some of those gender roles.