A while back I was in a sporting goods store looking for some socks for my son. Yes, I party hard. The store was filled with clothing marketed toward girls. There were shirts declaring girl power. There were other shirts encouraging everyone to, “Play like a girl.” And then there was pink. Pink baseball bats. Pink helmets. Pink footballs. For a minute, I thought that I had accidentally wandered into a Hello Kitty store.
Are those still a thing?
Anyway, I never found socks for my son.
Our culture is in love with the idea of empowering young women. But they’re going about it the wrong way. Young girls don’t become strong women because they bought a shirt in a store telling everyone that they’re strong or because there’s been an uptick in the number of female superheroes on television. Women who are equipped to navigate their way through a difficult world are grown from different soil.
Strong women are often the result of strong fathers. That’s the last thing that those behind the steering wheel of the feminist movement care to admit. Sure, it’s not always the case. There have been strong women who have come from backgrounds that include fathers who were not present or just not very good. But the most sure path to genuine womanhood starts at home with a good mother and, yes, a good father.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Abigail Shrier describes how her father’s masculinity helped to prepare her for womanhood. She explains, “When a man tries to mistreat a woman—I’m not talking about violence, but the instinct to convey to her that she isn’t worth very much—he is unlikely to get very far with a woman whose father has made her feel that she’s worth a whole lot.” Shrier continues, “If you want to protect girls, find them good parents, or become them.”
There has been a lot of talk about toxic masculinity. To be fair, there are many examples of men who have perverted their masculinity and used it for personal gain at the expense of others. But often, when progressives speak of toxic masculinity, what they’re really referring to is any version of manhood that has refused to bow the knee to the progressive gods of the day. Young girls don’t need toxic masculinity just like they don’t need the squishy, progressive version of masculinity.
But they do need dads. They need dads who are men. It’s weird that I have to explain that a dad has to be a man but here we are.
No amount of marches or girl power shirts will ever replace a dad who is loving and affectionate but who also knows how to be firm when the occasion calls for it. When a young girl sees her dad hug her mother, hears her dad correct her without going off the rails, or feels her dad hug her at the end of a long day, she is getting a better picture of womanhood than she’ll ever find from an episode of The Handmaid’s Tale. She’s getting a picture of what real manhood looks like and at the same time she’s learning about real womanhood. So when an imposter strolls into her life wanting to take something precious from her, she’ll hold him up to the standard that was set before her for 18 years and will be more likely to see the charlatan for what he really is.
Dads, if you have a little girl at home, give her a hug and a kiss. And let her see you give her mother a hug and a kiss. Work hard for her. Show up to her events. Cheer for her. Guide her. Correct her when she’s wrong. Lift her up when she succeeds. Comfort her when she fails. Laugh with her. Cry with her. Be strong for her.
When you do these things, you’re doing more than just being a dad for your little girl.
You’re building a strong woman.