In a lot of ways, I am the female carbon copy of my father. My father and I delight in making up fantastic stories. When I was very little, every night before I went to bed, for my bedtime story, my dad wouldn’t just pick up a book and read it to me. He’d make up, on the spot, an entire world with talking cats, superheroes, or Barbies that came to life at night and cleaned little girl’s rooms.
We both have used wit to test or punish those around us. I used to hate this, but it’s one of those things you grow to appreciate, as you get older. I remember never wanting to bring my boyfriends home to meet him.
“You’re here to pick up who? Never heard of her. But, by the sounds of it, I don’t think that type of girl would be going out with someone wearing skinny jeans anyway.”
And, to his credit, he had a point. I really shouldn’t have been that type of girl.
He wasn’t afraid of an argument. We had that in common, too. I feel bad for my mom when I think of some of the nine-round, roof-raising fights the two of us hotheads got into when I was growing up. It’s just something that happens when two people are that similar; a natural one-upmanship.
Nov. 19 is International Men’s Day. It’s been thrown around the office whether this holiday is necessary; isn’t every day international men’s day?
This is why I bring up my father. Too often, I hear comedians relying on lazy jokes about men and women’s differences. Jokes that should have went out with sock hops. Man or woman, we are all connected with each other. Every step, every glass ceiling women have shattered could not have happened without the support of the men who believed their wives, sisters, or daughters deserved to be treated as equals. Just as women can be chauvinists, men can be feminists.
I am who I am because my dad taught me that, on my last days, it won’t matter if someone called me a bitch. It will matter that I didn’t stand up for myself. He taught me that being smart is not unfeminine. That sexuality and being a sex object are different things.And he taught me that you only get treated as well as you demand. And because of him, I demand that men treat me like a human being.
And you know what? I’ve met a lot who never realized there was any other way. We may not have ended up soulmates, but there’s a strong group of men out there who will raise the next generation of strong women.
My father is not a well man. Such is life as you get older. But, if a tribute to a man’s life is the effect he’s had on the people in it; the two daughters and wife dedicated to taking care of him even a fraction of the amount that he’s taken care of us is my father’s autobiography.
So, it’s to those good men – the ones who stop when a girl says no, who try to earn, (not buy) a woman’s affections, who raise their kids even if they could’ve run away, who fight with us when we’re wrong, and who treat their mate as a partner, not a slave –that I raise a glass. We couldn’t have come this far without you.