I am the proud father of two boys, ages 7 and 5. Unless something truly unexpected happens I will never have the responsibility or the privilege of raising a daughter in this world.
I have several close friends who are also the fathers of one or more boys and no daughters. One thing that is somewhat common among fathers of boys, when there are no wives to overhear, and no fathers of daughters around, is to make little jokes about how we have “dodged a bullet.” And just as common when fathers of daughters talk to fathers of only boys (and without wives around), they will often make a small comment about our not understanding how easy we have it.
This is all 90% stupid bluster, obviously. At least one of my fellow fathers of boys only kept trying to get a girl until he had more boys than he and his wife could handle. And another one is planning on another try for a girl. When each of my boys were born, my wife and I chose not to know the gender until they were born, and I can remember being equally excited about the prospect of a son or a daughter, in each case.
Most of these little jokes are stupid obviously. Hey, maybe they all are. I’ve heard fathers of daughters congratulate me on not needing to spend so much on ammunition, ha ha, get it. And I’ve had fathers of daughters relate stories to me with a genuine sense of helplessness about dealing with their daughter’s body issues and self esteem, and who would think this stuff would start at such a young age. And then they try to joke about it, but…
LIMBAUGH: What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke [sic] who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex. What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex.
There’s your Republican Party folks. And before anyone tries to argue that Rush doesn’t speak for the Republican Party, please point me to any Republican leader who dares to criticize Rush on this issue, or any issue, and then is able to go 48 hours without apologizing and taking it back.
Women are under attack right now in this country. (Well, I guess they always have been, and there are probably a few women reading this and saying, “you just realized this?”) And make no mistake about it, the Blunt amendment that is being voted on in the Senate is a direct attack on women’s health care.
As a guy, I’m not even sure how to talk about this, without coming across as paternalistic. (In hindsight, framing it in the context of being a father probably didn’t help with that, did it?) Even President Obama, who I admire and am proud to support, came out last December with a boneheaded reason for overriding Kathleen Sebilius on Plan B availability. “As the father of two daughters,” he began, as women around the country threw things at the TV.
But then I read this excerpt from Bill Simmons’ interview with the president, where the president is talking about volunteering to coach his daughter’s basketball team:
I’m 50 now, so I went to high school in the ’70s. We actually went to — I went to a school that had a strong women’s sports team. But it was still not the norm for a lot of girls to participate in a lot of sports teams, and now it’s just second nature. And they’re healthier for it. They learn competition. They learn how to bounce back from adversity. It’s just — it’s a terrific thing to see.
And that gives me a bit of hope. And of course on this contraception coverage mandate the president has been a strong advocate for women and women’s health, and I hope that people who believe in women’s rights are paying attention. There is a real difference between the president and the men who are currently vying to replace him, on this and many other issues.
(In typical Romney fashion the Mittster has already flip-flopped on his support for the Blunt amendment. The guy is remarkably consistent in his inconsistency.)
I guess this post is a bit more rambly than most. I started out thinking about my responsibilities as a father, and how they are different because my children are sons, and not daughters. And I guess my point there was that being a parent to daughters has challenges that are different than what I am familiar with, and I can only empathize with those parents. Comments like those made by Rush Limbaugh kind of pissed me off as a father of boys, and I can’t even imagine how pissed I would be as a woman or as a father of daughters.
Anyway, while I will probably never be responsible for raising a daughter, I am responsible for raising two boys. And as a father of two boys, I can promise you that if I ever hear either of my boys say anything that resembles the sentiment expressed by Rush Limbaugh, there will be… repercussions.