THE BLOG
09/09/2014 11:47 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

I'm a Dad. I Have Daughters. And Worries.

Mike Reynolds

I'm glad there are posts like Jeff Bogle's about how it only gets better when it comes to raising daughters, because I need to be reminded that my girls themselves are just fine. That the decisions they make are made for them only, and that as long as they feel strongly about what they want to do in life, they'll be able to do it.

I worry a lot, though. About my girls.

I worry that some of my daughter's 4-year-old classmates are already spouting off tales of boys only liking blue and girls only liking pink.

I worry that in 2014 it's progress to back a law requiring education about the need for receiving affirmative consent before engaging in sexual activity with another person. Are you kidding? We're realizing this now and we have one state acknowledging it?

I worry that 17-year-olds (an age my girls get closer to every day) think it's appropriate to hold a sign saying "honk if you're dropping off your daughter" at a residence move-in weekend at a university. And that there even needs to be a poll after the story asking if the sign is inappropriate and sexist. And that a single human has answered that no, it is not (forget the fact that "no" was leading the poll when I wrote this).

I worry that when humans take private pictures of themselves and have those pictures stolen and then displayed as part of an "art exhibit," the picture-takers are the ones who "should have known better." That our need to see what they look like without a shirt and pants on is more important than them being humans.

I worry that laws are still made about what girls can do with their bodies by people who are not in charge of those bodies.

I worry that some people think there are varying levels of sexual assault. That there's a serious way where you get raped and then there's the minor sexual assault where you're just touched in ways you didn't ask for. Sexual assault seems like sexual assault to me, not a color palette where you have varying scales of gray.

I worry that there are both men and women who believe that street harassment is the sincerest form of flattery. That "it's flattering, so deal with it" -- as though being yelled at by strangers about your body was the life goal of all women.

I worry that my partner and I still have to explain that "those people were wrong when they said men can only marry women."

I worry that right now, this is as good as it gets in terms of gender equality. That the place where my girls are growing up is where women are treated "more equally" than in other parts of the world.

I worry that none of the above are thoughts held by only a small handful of people. Many people would hold that sign, many people would share those images, many people would shrug off a little inappropriate touching and many people would tell someone on the street to "smile more."

I worry that all of these stories are from the past month.

I worry that as a man, I won't be able to relate to what they go through as two quickly growing girls -- and that my inability to relate to them will cause me to act irrationally. That I'll underestimate how much something I've never experienced can hurt them.

I worry that many people who struggle with some of these concepts are our young children of today, and that I'll be another parent who fails to teach my daughters the value of an individual's rights.

I worry that I'm not educated enough, not brave enough or outright not a good enough parent to teach my girls that none of these things, should they happen to them, would make them any less important or in any way be their fault.

Really, I worry that I'm closer to being a part of the problem than I am to being a part of the solution, and that by the time I figure this out, it will be too late.

But I'm working on it.

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