An Open Letter to my Dad: Thank You for Being a Feminist

Growing up, my dad was always there to remind me that I can do anything and be anything I wanted. My senior year of High School there was a Women’s March in D.C. but it was on a school day so I didn’t even ask my parents if I could go. I remember scrolling through social media and seeing pictures from the march, and I instantly regretted not going. I knew how important that march was. When my dad got home from work later that evening he asked me why I didn’t go. I remember him saying, “You should have gone. I would have been right there marching next to you and your mom.” Though it probably shouldn’t have, that came as a shock to me. I knew my dad supported equality, but a lot of men tend to shy away from women’s marches and events. I didn’t know that my own father would want to physically be a part of this movement. That was the moment I knew I was so lucky. Not everyone grows up with this incredible support and that single comment meant the whole world to me. So, we went to the march the next year and it was such an incredible and empowering event. My whole family was there and we spent the night before making our signs and coming up with witty sayings that would smash the patriarchy as we stormed the streets of D.C. I will always hold that memory very close to my heart. I have watched my father allow my mother to be the strong, independent woman she is, I have watched him teach my brothers how to be feminists and respect everybody, and my father has set such high standards for the future men in my life.

Students standing and kneeling, smiling, holding activist signs.
A diverse coalition of students represented JMU at The 2019 Women’s March on Washington.

Growing up, we had some really good family friends who would come over occasionally for dinner. They’re nice people, don’t get me wrong . . . but the husband is a very strong conservative who doesn’t “agree” with Planned Parenthood. One evening when he was over he was talking about Planned Parenthood, and quite frankly, the “facts” he was preaching were false. Eventually I was tired of hearing his comments and felt like he needed to realize that he upset me and that he was wrong, so I decided to educate him a little bit by sharing some actual facts with him. This inevitably led to an argument in the kitchen about what exactly Planned Parenthood even does. News Flash: Abortions are only about 3% of the services they provide. The whole time I was worried my dad would be angry about the fact that I was arguing with our guest during dinner but, to my surprise, there he was cheering me on and telling me how proud he was that I stood up for myself and my rights. He was backing me up and supporting my views and I just remember being so grateful in that single moment. I guess I get my inability to keep my mouth shut from my dad but I am damn lucky to be raised by a father like him.

Planned Parenthood supporters. Image from NBC News, 2018. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/supreme-court/supreme-court-leaves-legal-victory-place-planned-parenthood-n945946

Having a feminist father has made me so much stronger. From being my biggest fan in all my sports growing up, my biggest advocate in life and to marching alongside me in one of the most powerful movements, he has been there through it all. His support has given me the strength to explore more ways in which I can advocate for equal rights for everybody. So to my incredible father, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I owe it all to you. The world needs more men like you.

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