Talking to Your Daughter About Beauty


‘I still remember the names of two girls my father identified as pretty in a fifth-grade class picture.’


If you’re trying to be a good dad (and you’re reading this site, so I think you are), you know that your children are sponges. We soak up everything we hear you say, everything we see you do, and many of the things you thought we didn’t notice.

I still remember the names of two girls my father identified as “pretty” in a fifth-grade class picture. My dad taught me a lot of things: how to find the North Star, how to make a perfect grilled cheese sandwich, how to drive in a New England winter. He taught me to value diversity of opinion and honesty of expression, to choose good, smart people to be in my life, to believe that I can do and be anything I want. But from the comment on the class picture 13 years ago? From that, I learned beauty matters.


Although boys must also navigate the tricky waters of body image and beauty, I will stick to daughters for two reasons. First, I can’t apply any particular expertise to the father-son relationship (being a daughter and all), and second, the consequences for girls when health and beauty get distorted tend to be much more severe (10 times as many women battle eating disorders than men).

No matter how old your daughter is she is receiving messages from every angle that tell her that her primary path to success is being beautiful. Be it Bratz dolls, princess paraphernalia, Miley Cyrus, Gossip Girl, E! Red Carpet specials, Miss America pageants, Sarah Palin, or Lindsay Vonn in Sports Illustrated, women are judged and rated based on their looks. Our intellectual, athletic, artistic, or social successes are inevitably predicated on and qualified by our appearance. Even CBS correspondent Lara Logan, victim of assault while covering the situation in Egypt, is discussed as a “Warzone ‘It Girl’ ” and a “gutsy stunner”—rather than simply “reporter.”

So how is a good dad to avoid adding to the barrage of corrupting messages your daughter receives every day? Start close to home. Think about what she hears from adult women around her. Do her mother, older sisters, or aunts discuss looking fat in front of her? Do they pinch themselves, complain about how they look, or crash diet? Does her grandmother tell her that she needs to watch her figure? Girls’ and women’s bodies are unfortunately considered open to “constructive criticism” from strangers and loved ones alike. I was 11 the first time a saleslady volunteered that I was blessed and cursed with a “bubble butt.”


But it’s not just women that your daughter hears. It may be her mother that she emulates (or other adult women in her life), but it’s her father’s compliments that she’s looking for. Last week, GMPM columnist Hugo Schwyzer wrote about how simple compliments like “you look pretty!” reinforce a pattern that teaches girls to seek aesthetic approval:

Five-year-olds in princess costumes are cute. But the problem is that the compliments we give as fathers, uncles, and coaches have an impact on the self-esteem of little girls. As they grow up, they realize quickly (certainly by age 8 or 9) that Cinderella costumes won’t cut it anymore.

When the cute costumes don’t work, girls look around to see what women do to get recognition. And what do they find? Fake breasts, tiny clothes, sexy poses. The phoniness of these Barbie-fied images might actually be easier to combat than the more insidious forms of beauty worship. You can talk to your daughter about airbrushing and the difference between magazine pictures and real life. But imagine you’re sitting on the couch watching Wimbledon and your daughter hears you say that Anna Kournikova looks good. Maybe you mean she looks strong, or her serve is on today, or she’s quick off the line, but what your daughter hears is that the tall blonde woman in the mini-skirt “looks good.” If what you meant was that she’s a great tennis player, then say that. If what you meant was that she’s hot, well, save it for your buddies.

The conflation of beauty with other positive qualities, or the lack of it with negative ones, is where the real confusion begins. Make sure the women that you admire out loud, be they politicians, movie stars, musicians, or athletes, are being admired for what they do, not how they look.

The flipside is true as well: Hillary Clinton’s “frumpy” haircut has zero to do with her diplomatic skills, so leave it out of the conversation. This is how you teach your daughter that judging by the cover may be part of our society, and something she will encounter on a daily basis, but it isn’t part of your family’s values.


My dad will read this article and he will wonder if his comment scarred me (it didn’t) or if I’ve been hanging onto it for years (I haven’t). The truth is, that comment is easily and readily dwarfed by the tens of thousands of positive, confidence-boosting conversations we’ve had. In thinking about how dads talk to their daughters, his comment stands out only because it was such an anomaly. I was at a friend’s house once when she emerged from her room in a new dress and her father, from the couch, shrugged and said, “At least you don’t look fat.” I was blown away, but my friend barely blinked; this was par for course in her home.

That sort of active negativity is easy enough to avoid. What’s more challenging as parents is to train yourself away from commenting on beauty at all, even in what may feel like the most positive and innocuous of ways. The world will tell her everyday that for women, beauty is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and it’s your job to counter that by offering better metrics of success.


Other Stories From The Good Men Project:


Husband Confronts Abortion Protesters [VIDEO]


Why Don’t Men Initiate Divorce?


Red-Hot Monogamy


The Prostitute Who Saved My Relationship


Are Men Natural-Born Cheaters?


What Your Marriage Needs to Survive


—Photo by pipitdapo/Flickr

About Emily Heist Moss

Emily Heist Moss is a New Englander in love with Chicago, where she works at a tech start-up. She's a serious reader and a semi-pro TV buff. She writes about gender, media, and politics at her blog, Rosie Says. (Follow her: @rosiesaysblog, find Rosie Says on Facebook). 


  1. Good article. I’m experiencing many of these issues as well..

  2. buffamazon says:

    A fine read with some great thoughts. Thanks so much for writing this. I grew up constantly being told that I was not only not attractive, but my father was quite clear on the specifics of what I should DO to BE attractive. I needed to grow out my short hair and put on a dress, and stop having opinions. I still carry the weight of that, but now it is mostly due to the fact that I never see my father and my hair is still short. Oh. And about those opinions…

  3. How about telling your daughter she is beautiful, but not referring simply to her “looks” or what she is wearing? My dad often told me, “You look nice today!” but I knew it wasn’t ONLY my outward appearance he was talking about. It was mostly his love for me, evidenced by his desire to spend time with me, that gave me a lot of self-confidence… but him telling me that I looked beautiful really meant a lot too. I don’t think dads should stop talking about beauty PERIOD, they just need to remember to compliment the beauty within.

  4. I agree with this article to a certain extent but feel like the absence of any compliments to looks or intelligence hurt the child also. Neither of my parents ever told me I was pretty, not once. Beginning at age 6 I thought I was ugly and told myself so everyday while looking in a mirror. Would every kid who wasn’t complimented do what I did? Maybe not, but by being given SOME self-worth in the form of a compliment could have stopped my belief. I see pictures of myself at age 6 and I was a pretty child. I was absolutely floored at age 18 when I heard my best friend’s father complimenting her…I didn’t know that was a possibility in a parent-child relationship. My parents also never called me smart, which I was, yet I got punished for having one C on a report card.
    Girls self worth is a touchy subject and it seems there are no true great answers, keeping in mind every child’s personality and private thoughts come into play as well as the parent’s actions and words. But I am here to say: the absence of compliments does as much harm as telling your child every once in a while that they are pretty.

    • I never got the message I was pretty either. Ever. And my father wasn’t absive to but he completely ignored me while seeking lots of bonding with my brother. (The irony is that I was and am much more mechanical and outdoorsy than my bookworm bro, but he never noticed) Then, as it happened, I turned into a pretty teenager with giant breasts pretty much overnite. Suddenly I had lots of male attention, of a kind I was completely unprepared for and didn’t want. And teaching me that my value to men was only based on my sexuality, a huge mind f*ck for sure for a girl who had been a skinny tomboy two minutes earlier. Fathers are so important in so many ways to their daughters. Just wanting to spend time with her as a human being is huge to helping her grow up to be a strong woman who enjoys men.

  5. Toward the end of this article, the writer says parents should train themselves away from talking about beauty at all. I don’t think that’s necessary. As a child my mom used to tell me veeeery often that I was the most beautiful girl in the world. I don’t know where she got the idea from, but I believe it surely helped to beef up my self-esteem. So much so that even though I actually might not be the most beautiful girl in the world, later on in life, when people had negative comments or the world forced its idea of beauty on me, they just rolled off me like water on a duck’s back.

    And the reality is that society values beauty (flawed as it may be), but because it is flawed is precisely the reason that parents must talk to their kids about it.

    my 2c

  6. Two daughters (now in their 40s) and 4 granddaughters (all under age 6) later (and not mentioning 2 sons) – What happened for the daughters was that Feminism then in full stride got through the haze of messages, reinforced on a daily basis to varying degrees gently at home and conditioning at public school. One of them rejected commonly held standards of beauty, and the other embraced those.

    The former is attempting to raise her daughter accordingly, e.g. at birth “Dad, do not send anything pink!” – which color of course her child instantly demanded along with frills and ribbons and princess attire/equipment. However, she also demanded Wonder Woman and usually selects bold geometric daily garb. Beauty is a game to her.

    The latter as a mother seems intent upon continuing a baby doll approach, judging from early visual evidence. However, being no shrinking violet, without doubt her daughter will demand and evolve as a self-respecting beauty too.

    It is impossible to fully predict or condition a child’s basic self when an adult but, for certain, negative reinforcement and gaslighting of them is almost certainly irreversible. A father’s innate kindness toward and shear love of the children as they are means blocking out whatever else we are able.

    I tried to do that, really hard.

    Excellent article, good advice especially for young fathers/parents of today.

  7. What I can say is,I lost the beauty wars in my house and on one Christmas eve was forced to go find the lastest Barbie doll for our daughter.Which brings me to my point.I think far too much power and responsibility for changing this problem is placed on men. At some point the power of beauty seduces some women.This article fails to address the benefits of beauty in society.I mean young girls see the Kardashians,the Paris Hilton’s, the Beyonce’s,the Angelina Jolie’s and figure dad doesn’t know what he’s talking about.When women begin to understand the role they play-wanting easy power and sex and money and popularity- in all of this, maybe there will be change.Maybe when women stop asking to be told-romance anyone?- they beautiful they will be change.Too many times,on this site women have asked/demanded that men fawn over them in order to feel wanted enough to have sex. Over and again one can find that message on this site.At the end of the day it’s,as usual, is a bunch of contradictory advice that as a man one is damned either way.

    • Yes most women appreciate being told they are attractive (as do men!), I feel like you are selling young women realllyyyyy short. My teen and her friends could care less about the standard crap role models (chortle) of celebrity worship – they don’t buy fashion magazines, shop as entertainment, and they don’t define themselves by their looks, even though they are by common standards, attractive.. And sure, some girls and women are on the power trip of being sexy and getting male attention, but if they received more positive feedback for other aspects of themselves there would be less of it. It’s normally just a phase anyway, and frankly with the value that society places on older women (as in very little), they should maybe get to enjoy it a little since it’s not a permanent condition 🙂 It’s like the stereotype that all boys and men care about sports. It’s just not true. For all of societies focus on looks, there is also a lot more lattitude for young people of both genders to define themselves in the world today by meaningful measures if it’s encouraged.

  8. Katie Makai with some amazing poetry on “pretty”

  9. Amanda, big credit to you for wanting to also raise your son to appreciate girls and women as people and desiring to teach him that while realizing that naturally he will be attracted to some of them as well. I don’t think that men have to object women to be attracted to them. But often in our culture, objectification seems to be the only way a lot of men know how to communicate attraction.

    I think this is an important issue to teach to both genders as well. Little boys need to be taught the same message about female beauty that girls do. Unfortuently, we tend to want to teach these messages to women but allow for “boys to be boys” where their father’s might make comments about other women to their sons or encourage pornography use.

    This is a vastly complicated issue with responsibility on both sides. Women need to stop being critical of themselves and making negative comments about their bodies infront of their daughters. I remember my Mom doing this to herself. And men need to be more consistant in not only teaching healthy concepts of beauty to their sons and daughters, but practicing themselves and not letting their lust or attraction to women blind them to how to treat women. I remember the many pretty young waitresses that my Dad was flirty with. Those things stick with you. I think I was about 10 when I started to realize how my Dad interacted with other women. And sometimes, it left me feeling sad.

    Growing up, and even now, there is no shortage of people that are ready to comment on your body as a woman. I have heard it all. Where each part of my body part as been commented on at times from men and women. Positive and negative. It’s really true that women are always up on the chopping block. And today, we don’t really get much reprive from that. So this message is important to teach to boys and girls alike. Not just girls. And Fathers do need to pay attention how they treat, talk and interact with women infront of both their sons and daugthers and not hold a different set of rules for how they behave with their sons vs their daughters because this is what sets up disconnection and double standards.

    • @Erin: I’d like to stress that it is not only about looks. Yesterday I watched the movie “Whale Rider” with my daughters, which is about a Maori girl named Paikea Apirana, struggling against tradition to find her way – and her voice. At one point she managed to fix and start an outboard motor, and her grandfather ran up to her, shouting at her “Stop that! Never do that Again! This is dangerous!” I asked my daughters if he would have reacted the same way if she had been a boy. Sophie, 8, laughed and said “No way. He would have said ‘Well done!’ ” So here we have an 8 year old who, I hope, is totally free in this respect (she is a martial artist, climber and swims like a sea lion), but at the same time acutely aware that boys and girls often are treated differently.

      The movie by the way ends on a positive tune: there are other Maori men, from the next generation, like the girl’s uncle, who treat girls as equals.

  10. I envy the relationship the author of this article had and has with her father. I’m thirty years old and a part of my brain is still mystified and amazed whenever a female friend talks about her wonderful father.

    My father was a constant, negative and abusive force in my life. I was a tomboy and he’d wanted a fragile, precious, beautiful thing to show off to his friends. He talked about me like I wasn’t a woman, called me names and tore me down every day. He left BDSM porn with pages stuck together open on the living room coffee table, and berated my mother to tears in front of my brother and I for not having enough sex with him. He made sexual “jokes” about my friends who visited the house in high school, and compared my body to theirs. He ridiculed my looks and body and followed it up with ‘drama queen’ if I reacted emotionally to his abuse. My mother denied that anything that went on in our home was abnormal and we just lived that way until I left home at 18. I was so brainwashed that I really believed I was just an over-emotional nutjob- I didn’t realize these things were abusive until I was in my 20s.

    It’s not a shock that as an adult all of my relationships have been abusive. I’m highly educated but it’s difficult for me to keep a job. I have panic attacks and suffer from severe depression with dissociative episodes; I’ll probably be medicated for the rest of my life. As I’m getting older, I pull back from people more and more. It’s just easier and safer for me to be alone. It’s hard not to wonder sometimes what my life would look like if I’d had a loving, supportive and kind father.

    • @Kiiki L: I really empathize with your story. It sounds like your childhood was hell instead of the generally protected and caring place it should be. There probably are no perfect parents out there – and there never were – but as you describe it your father missed the target by a couple of lightyears. Probably everyone has negative experiences with their parents, but in your case there apparently only were negative experience. It is pretty common that father’s are a bit distanced or simply worn out from work and not as open and engaging as they should be, but generally my observation is – among the guys I know – that they are caring and protecting and try to be guides for their kids and give support as good as they can. I don’t know how you could “unwash” your brain. I can only tell you that most families are not like yours was.

    • I’m a sexual abuse survivor. There’s always a place for healing. Always. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it. A friend of mine was raped by her father over 200 times between the ages of 9-18 when she left home. It room a good amount of time, but she is now happily married and running a successful business. It happens. Don’t accept that you will be unhappy the rest of your life. Get up, fight. You have what it takes.

    • Laura Elizabeth says:

      I grew up in family similar to yours. My dad was the same and my mom just denies it all and protects him. I sometimes envy that father/daughter relationship some people have. Now I’m emotionally disabled and come off as cold. I can’t keep relationships together because I don’t let anyone in. A while back I started seeing a psychiatrist and for the first time I acknowledge that I was molested when I was very young by a relative. When I told my parents about it my mom said it was my fault for playing with boys and my dad said it was a lie because I wasn’t pretty. I’ve come to realize that my dad is mentally fucked up and his male ego is really fragile. He hates not being the center of attention and if he doesn’t get it, he throws fits. I’ve been slowly getting through my problems thanks to my psychiatrist and I don’t let his destructiveness trample through my peaceful mind.

  11. This author is pretty. Pretty smart!

  12. The answer is simple and all of this complicated stuff is so much hot air. The answer is: LOVE AND CHERISH YOUR CHILD’S MOTHER WITH ALL OF YOUR HEART AND ALL OF YOUR SOUL. This includes considering your wife, your child’s mother, to be the most beautiful woman in the world and the only woman in the world who is your muse and attraction. Simply put, love your wife, love the mother of your child. All else continues from there, and have lots of fun with your daughter, because daughters are so delightful!!!

  13. Stefan Thiesen says:

    One addition: once again I realised that men alone certainly are not the problem. It’s women who bring in the Barbie’s and Dollhouses. Little perfect plastic girls transmitting a whole set of mind bending ideas: that everything is about looks and hairstyle. That fashion is an important aspect of life, that everything circles in an orbit around a “beautiful girl”, and, last but not least, that IT IS OKAY AND NORMAL THAT GIRLS ARE TOYS. My daughters just got a giant dollhouse from their aunt – the thing is more than twice the height of our 2 1/2 year old. Now they sit there with their blonde plastic toy girls playing with that house, their imagination brought down to earth and locked into the 4 walls of a miniture household prison. The center of that house is a canopy bed. To me the “educational” image broadcasted is that the girls’ role is to be beautiful, have children, stay in the house and be available “for play” in that bed. It is so SUFFOCATING. Horror. I want my 3 girls to be free spirits.

    • Appreciation for this ifmnoration is over 9000-thank you!

    • wGkBED tuosdbqubdgt

    • Or dollhouses can be a wonderful outlet for creative play for both boys and girls. I certainly have fond memories of making up elaborate stories about my dolls’ adventures — and they certainly got to leave the house. The type of dollhouse and dolls may make a difference too, of course.

      I think disdaining all traditional “girls’ toys” also sends a dangerous message, doesn’t it? I’d like both my boys and girls to enjoys Legos and dollhouses alike, things I think of as essentially gender-neutral and creative-play based.

  14. Kirsten Ficklin says:

    Talk to your daughter about beauty…. and then go back to watching porn??? Something here, just doesn’t sound right.

    • Men need to stop telling the daughters one thing and doing another says:

      touche. lets tell our own daughters that looks aren’t all importnant and then do and say everything to the contrary. apparently girls will take someone’s word as truth despite all the OTHER things that they hear and see to form logical conclusions to.

      Men should be honest to their daughters and tell them that “The first and only thingt that matter to men are looks. that they are the same way and that mom wouldn’t have been mom if he hadn’t found her hot enough to bother getting to know her well enough to want to marry and have children with.

      • I think the point is that society, culture and kids their own age will teach them that ‘the only thing that matters to men are looks’. Fathers have the opportunity to teach their girls that they can be respected and loved for who they are as well. The role of a father in establishing this element of self esteem is crucial, and when not evident the effects are poisonous.

  15. My father was emotionally unavailable and a big social drinker. He never held my hand, hugged, kissed, praised, read, or taught me anything except that he didn’t “like” me. I had two long term abusive relationships which began the night of my Jr. Prom with the jerk my friend told me to take. I went on to have three sons in the second relationship whom I raised without the father.

    I have been in a relationship now for the last 8 years and we’ve had two daughters. Whole different ball game. My s/o is wonderful but doesn’t “get it” that everything, everything he says and does is soaked up by his daughters. I MUST have him read this asap!!

    This was a great article!!

  16. Tell young women the truth about beauty: It’s not all that matters (what’s inside is essential, of course), but it matters a great deal. It affects the opportunities you will get in love and business and life, so it’s wise to do the best with what you have (within reason – weird surgeries are ill-advised). And of course, again, who you are matters enormously.

    But, let’s be honest about the truth about beauty mattering for women. Whether it “should” matter won’t change the fact that it does. Women can either accept that beauty matters and make an effort with their looks — or accept the opportunity costs of going ungroomed.

    I wrote about this here:

    • Stefan Thiesen says:

      @Amy Alkon: I do not really agree. Although it certainly is true that looks CAN be an advantage, there will be hardly any professional personnel manager worth his money who falls for the surface alone. And if it comes to private life, friends, partners: who wants friends or life partners who only are there because of our outside appearance? And that counts for men and women alike. And regarding success – it really depends on the definition of success. The type of success presented in the media is highly selective – even from the realms of musicians, artists, scientists, medical doctors, we usually only see those on TV who are in tune with the current beauty paradigm. But – isn’t a head of a medical department also highly successful if she looks average? Was Marie Curie beautiful? Or the woman who for a while was the most powerful woman on the planet when she was chancellor of Germany, president of the EU and host of the G8? Chancellor Merkel is not exactly beautiful. But she is smart. She is a head of state. She has a Physics Ph.D. Ability, diligence, character are what counts. Perhaps my advise would be: if someone is clinically stupid and devoid of any talents but blessed with outstanding physical beauty: do something with that beauty, because it is all you have. For all other girls I suggest: develop your mind, your soul, your talents – use your intelligence, break beyond the limits of Barbies and Dollhouses – go out there. Explore the World. THE UNIVERSE ITSELF IS YOUR PLAYGROUND!

      • Oh man, I wish this was true. I don’t think half the time men realise they’re doing it, psuccessful personnel manager or no.

  17. I love to see the picture of me and little Liv together with this article as I can sign every word of it with my name. The “princess culture” is a severe problem for girls and I keep trying to protect them from that influence. Unfortunately culture is such that wherever little girls go they experience being rewarded for being “sweet” and not so much for being “smart”. But, being a scientist, I really value their smartness and the motions of their hearts and minds endlessly more than their looks. It is also a matter of shallow vs. deep. But it starts in Kindergarten. Livi (now 4) is the shortest kid in her age group. They let it feel her. Amazingly it was Yoda (who is not quite a Barbie) who lifted her up, saying (I translate from the German version): “Judge me by my size? Is that what you do?”.

    Ultimately I hope that in my case the positive memories and influences will also outweigh my weaknesses.

  18. I have a little boy and I think that this article is just as applicable in the sense that it’s very important to me how my husband and I talk about women around him. I want him to grow up respecting women for their skills, abilities and other personal traits. Of course he’ll be attracted to ladies and notice their physical ‘assets’ but it’s very important to me that he appreciate them as people, coworkers, role models and the like. I hope that through our parenting and our relationship my husband and I are able to lead by example!

  19. Brainwashed by what society believes is the correct definition of beauty, many young girls have difficulties recognizing beauty that doesn’t involve physical appearance. My mom has always told me “Pretty is as pretty does”, and although difficult to understand at such a young age, I have never forgotten her perspective of beauty. As a teenager, I am surrounded by obstacles every day that focus around insignificant topics associated around beauty. Society has made it nearly impossible for young women to consider themselves beautiful based on their personality and self-being, although this is how the word “beauty” was initially intended to be perceived. It is not a crime to consider yourself beautiful, because it takes a lot of confidence to be successful in our society, when everyone goes out of their way to criticize your flaws. As a parent, it is your job to instill confidence within your child, to make them realize that no matter their shape, culture, beliefs or sexual orientation, that they are beautiful. Despite society’s improper view of beauty, your success and happiness will never be based around the size of your waist or the length of your hair.

  20. Interesting! rethorical and well written language thought do not leave room to express that there is God almighty who protect and guide us, believer for the right path. For some of you this sound funny or ridiculous but the true is that at the end we always look for God.

  21. Much debate here, but I want to return to the point of the article on how dad’s talk to their daughters.

    I still remember when I first started wearing make-up, my father told me make up was nice, occasionally, but it should be used to enhance natural beauty not to cover things up. To this day that has influenced how I use it.

    His phrasing made it clear that i was beautiful without it, and that while beauty was nice, it wasn’t overly important.

    Growing up I don’t remember my father commenting on other women’s attractiveness – my mom was clearly the only one for him. It wasn’t until my brothers and i were adults that he allowed himself to hang a hooters calendar in his motorcycle shed.

    So, the authors points work. Which i think is where the focus on this piece SHOULD be.

  22. I can not say how moving and true this article is. We begin to form our self perception from our foundational relationships and the father daughter one is paramount. When your father see you as his princess and honors you, as a young woman you are more apt to carry that sort of pride and sense of entitlement (not in a negative) in terms of respect from men. If there are any fathers who need more information on this subject check us out at Great work, love the idea of this site– Fathers a so important and all children need there fathers present and healthy in their lives

  23. Has anyone considered the *remote* possibility that there’s nothing wrong with a father telling his daughter that she’s beautiful? It can be done yanno…in a completely paternal, non-pervy, legitimate way that is BENEFICFIAL to her self esteem and outlook on men and relationships.

    Why are we automatically making this a bad thing? Do we snap to the decision that a mother telling her teenage son he is handsome indicates that she’s some kind of pedo-cougar? No! Of course not! Why do we do it to fathers of daughters?

    • Read the article again. Its not just about that. No one is saying you can’t tell your kid (male or female) they are beautiful. Just don’t let that be all you tell them… and don’t be crass or sexually objectify the gender of your child in front of your child.

      • Sure, it’s not “just about that”…but it IS about that, at least in part. The fact that the author specifically references Hugo’s previous article where he states that all men have a “strong reaction” to seeing 6 year old girls dressed up is just a minor factoid, right? The over-riding implication is that a father saying his daughter is pretty either implicates he’s a sexual deviant and/or that doing so will screw up his daughter’s self image for life. It’s the height of ridiculousness.

        I agree that PARENTS should try and be conscious about what they say to their children, but I think that the authors examples, while they may be her experiences, are the anomaly, not the norm.

        • Again, I think you need to read it again–the article is about not JUST valuing and rewarding beauty, or not JUST talking about beauty when you could talk about other important traits.

          “The over-riding implication is that a father saying his daughter is pretty either implicates he’s a sexual deviant and/or that doing so will screw up his daughter’s self image for life.

          Again, I ask, did you read it? Especially the last paragraph? Because you are the only one getting that impression.

  24. Loved your article. I don’t think there is any feminist blaming going on here. It’s important that young girls are reinforced by both the men AND the women in their lives. I know my dad was one of the driving forces shaping my self confidence growing up. He was constantly reminding me how smart I was and how proud of me he was. The only woman whose looks my dad ever commented on was my mom. Fathers play an important role in developing how girls see themselves, thank you for bringing this important topic to attention.

  25. It seems like your advocating “don’t say anything” contradicts your father’s teachings to value others’ opinions.

  26. Great article, thank you. I will be sharing in Sunday Surf.
    Like that you are writing this towards men, because as you said, for a girl the comments of a dad can make or break a girl. So few articles are written for dads and women tend to get all the guilt over them… but in the beauty iconification, both men and women are equally influenced and ‘to blame’ so we all need to watch our language in front of others

  27. As the father of two daughters (7 and 10 next week) I find myself restating the fact that how a person acts is the true measure of beauty, but I don’t think it’s working. No, I don’t have Playboy magazines in the bathroom. No, we don’t watch sensationalistic television. But I’m sure there have been times when I’ve spoken about physical beauty in front of my girls more as a man, than a father. I’m human. But I have to admit that I’ve tried very hard to raise two girls who will become two confident adults who understand how beauty affects people and its worth in the realm of things.

    thanks for this post.

  28. I raised a daughter alone for many years (see “Iowa Black Dirt” on this site). Maybe I am obtuse, but her looks were never an issue. It just did not come up, not by design, but because we were too busy to make her looks an issue and because—gasp—I did not put beauty at the top of the list of virtues for women. Being athletic—yeah. Being smart—yeah. Being social—yeah. She went to summer camp, she took gymnastics; she kicked a soccer ball. I drove. A lot. Her peers were other girls in the same places with the same interests. They weren’t idle and trying eye shadow at 11, either. They had things to do. I’d worry about her being a tom-boy: so what? Didn’t happen. When she turned 20, I bought her a day at Elizabeth Arden (in DC where she went to school) where a cosmetologist taught her about make-up. I couldn’t. I was clueless. She purchased about $200 worth of paint and powder.
    Glad you asked what my point is.
    Maybe the alleged pressure to be beautiful comes from women, a culture obsessed with beauty, that teaches girls that their job in life is to attract men, instead of being the best people they can be independent of male opinion. My daughter is a happy, accomplished woman who never experienced an eating disorder.
    Pointing at men for admiring pretty girls misses the point. Kids are not raised in a vacuum, so if Dad admires an attractive woman or girl, he is defining himself as normal. That is not a bad thing. It does not follow that a young girl will lose self-esteem—not if she has plenty going for her. A man who values only beauty in a woman is an asshole. Nobody is immune from being raised by assholes, but that quality is hardly unique to men and is more likely to be found among women who have not learned that life is more than skin deep.

    • The author did not say men are accountable, but rather that they can do things (like what you have clearly done for your daughter) to make girls grow up to not be so concerned with their looks. Contrary to what you might think, girls really admire and look up to their fathers, and need them to set an example for behaviour. Parenting is collaborative, and neither the father nor the mother can be held solely accountable for the issues kids have. This site is the good MEN project. so obviously it will focus on the male side of the equation.

      If you want to read some stories on how bad dad behaviours can damage a girl’s self esteem, read some of the comments on here:!5642324/daddy-issues-does-a-wandering-eye-hurt-a-my-daughters?comment=29433436:29441565

      Slightly different, but discovering my dad’s Hustler magazines when I was too little to understand anything CRUSHED me and was the beginning of my ruined relationship with him and my bizarre relationship with porn. Upon discovery I started crying and yelled at him (in front of my mom) about “Don’t you love mom? Isn’t she enough for you? Don’t you think she’s beautiful enough? That’s disgusting!” Around that time I also found the bookmark folder on his computer (the family/shared computer) that went to all the porn sites, and had the most mortifying moment of my life when he told me not to lean over him because I was developing womanly curves and those curves touching men did things to the men that were inappropriate when the man in question is your father.

      Because of those things, I became very wary (and am to this day) of being a sexual being in front of him (meaning I cover up like a nun, I cringe whenever a sex joke is made in the presence of both of us, I can’t stand watching sexy scenes in movies/tv with him, etc.). I don’t even like hugging him. He never molested me or anything, but the combination of those three things I listed above made me think of him as some sex-hungry maniac who is thinking of me and all women in a sexual manner at all times.

      It’s also ruined my relationship to porn. I like it and can get off on it, but I feel disgusting and dirty doing it, and if my husband looks at it I get a sinking feeling that he’s just like my dad.

      I should probably talk to someone about all this, huh?

  29. Feminism is largely to blame for the extreme self esteem issues that upperclass girls are facing. Both men and women are affected equally by the uncertainty of modernism, the fact that this is denied by most feminists is really telling. Instead of the feminist culture being happy that many men are capable of being sympathetic to the case of low-self esteem and feelings of inadequacy and irrelevance associated with modern society, they instead attack those feelings as being somehow less important than their own. It’s vanity, plain and simple. “Our suffering is the greatest, we suffer the most” is the mantra here, it’s representative of the out-of-control self pity that many young women feel.
    If you were to go back 50-100 years or more in history, you’d find that terms like “homemaker” or “house wife” would carry little of the negative connotations they do today. Running a strong household was once a source of pride for families and a strong matriarch was the cornerstone success. Women could be happy knowing they managed their estates effectively. Since the rise of feminism this outlet has been removed. This type of life style has been stigmatized greatly, the dignity of it has been stripped, and now women have a harder time than ever finding happiness and comfort in their lifestyles.
    Though some wish to avoid using words like narcissism, hyper-vanity is really the issue here. Women are not able to justify themselves and too heavily rely on praise from friends and family and coworkers to establish their worth. Satisfaction only comes from within, not from without, and women should be focusing on cultivation of their inner worlds rather than blaming others for their victimization. Emily, your profile calls you a “tv-buff”, my strongest recommendation to you would be to turn off the tv.

    • silverfaire says:

      “If you were to go back 50-100 years or more in history, you’d find that terms like “homemaker” or “house wife” would carry little of the negative connotations they do today. ”

      … at one time “slave” carried little of the negative connotations of today too.

      We rail against enforced roles. And do not willfully misconstrue here … the pendulum will swing back to a place of balance in regards to views on occupations (in the home or out of it). It will take time and an effort of understanding.

      Do not speak for me. I am a feminist. I strive very hard to maintain a balanced perspective. I speak up when I hear women-bashing. I also speak up when I hear men-bashing. Neither is acceptable. Our society will only heal when we cease this “gender war” that we’ve created. All of us.

      • …listen to yourself. My point was that at one time managing a household well was something women could be proud of, and it was something men respected. The tradition of feminism swept in and told women that it was wrong of them to be happy working at home.

        200 years ago children would be educated in classical languages by the time they were in their teens, they would receive education in arts and music far above what is currently given to children, all without state run schools. Families might also have double digit numbers of children. Richer families would also might have large estates to manage, teams of servants to control etc. These women did not stop and feel sorry for themselves, they did not feel your sneering contempt. You’re very far off attempting to revise history and tell these women who lived happy lives full of dignity that they were merely slaves. Just because you think today that housewives today are unrespectable does not mean that they always were. That’s exactly my point, in the past that role was considered IMPORTANT, a woman who did it well could step back and feel truly fulfilled. It was hard work, and everyone knew it, and everyone respected it. Feminism took that away. Today families are weakened, children are shoved into a failing public school system and many nations are having trouble ensuring that enough couples will have children to allow the continuation of their societies. Times have changed, but just because women can’t be happy now being homemakers does not mean that was always the case. Your critique of that type of lifestyle is totally irrelevant to the people who lived it, those women had something to be proud of, and I’m sure they’d laugh at you if you tried to enforce your views on them.

        • silverfaire says:

          I do not enforce my views on others or paint every man or woman with the same broad brush (as some here do).

          I will tell you I am not nor have I ever been happy in domestic life. I do not enjoy cooking, baking, decorating or doing any of the traditional things women once did as their only venue in life. I love to be outdoors and doing adventurous, physical things. That is where I am fulfilled.

          My 11 year old daughter, however, loves to bake and decorate and design … and I support her fully. I do not call down anything that she loves to do. And she gets to see a more balanced perspective of what a woman can do by being exposed to many different things.

          And while I would say yes, there were women who loved that role, I can also tell you there were many women who loathed it. The difference is … now we get to say so.

        • Upper class white women in the 1950s do not constitute women throughout history. That decade was an historical aberration. Women have always worked outside the home.

          Is the claim that men once respected women’s unpaid domestic labor your idea of a joke? I suppose the men who say women have contributed nothing of value to civilization (whilst ignoring the fact that men excluded women from certain opportunities) just did not get the message? Of course, men have always *benefited* from women’s unpaid domestic labor, but they have not respected it. They are not clamoring to do stereotypical “women’s work” themselves. Second-wave feminists gave voice to women’s frustrations at the time; they did not convince content, satisfied women they were actually miserable. For you to make such an assertion is laughable.

          • Exactly. I watch shows like The Walking Dead (survival stuff) and most of the women are in domestic positions. They’re not out fighting the zombies, or doing they hero stuff. Every time a woman died, my fiance commented, “Well, she was useless anyway.” I seriously doubt my fiance’s comment is rare. I bet most men when women were relegated to the domestic sphere felt they were useless to society overall and only useful for raising a family. Other than that, men probably felt they contributed nothing of worth save for more children. I’m not saying women who enjoy the domestic sphere are useless. I’m merely pointing out that I doubt men overall respected women during the time of that domestic sphere.

  30. Great piece, Emily. If more men would “save it for their buddies,” we’d all be better off.

    And thanks for quoting me as well.

  31. I have twin 2-year-old girls (they’re fraternal). And this piece speaks to me big-time, because I want so much to NOT saddle my daughters with any issues. (I know, it’s impossible to NOT do some damage. Just want to minimize it.)

    And as a writer, I’m freaked about every word I use. If I say “Silly girl!” when my daughter throws her drink, could that feed into some future insecurity?

    Oy. I can only do my best, and hope they understand that. (I plan on telling them very early that Daddy is human and flawed.)

    • As the daughter of a severely fucked up , abusive father who nonetheless carries minimal baggage, I’d like to point out a few things:

      If you teach them to think for themselves, it will all be ok. Let them disagree with you. When they catch you being wrong, and successfully prove you wrong, admit your mistake and praise them for calling you on it. Doing that minimizes the impact of your mistakes; if your daughters know that sometimes YOU can be silly too, that teaches them to disregard careless things you say. Furthermore, it reduces their insecurity because you can teach them, by example, that it’s okay to be a flawed, mortal human being.

      Like I said, my father was abusive, and I turned out perfectly fine because he (to some degree) and my mother (to a much larger degree) both taught me to think for myself.

    • My fraternal twin daughters are 35 now. I recall once, I’m thinking middle-school years, asking them if they ever wanted to be identical. (I asked them separately, of course). Both said, “No, unless we were “me.”

      I figured I’d done a reasonable job on the self-esteem.

  32. What a well-written, thoughtful article. Well done, Emily.

  33. A penetrating analysis, thought-provoking and a valuable contribution to well-intentioned dads, uncles, older brothers/cousins/friends, etc. who strive to support and nurture the health, strength, and independence of younger girls and women whom they care about. Every such male should receive a link or hard copy of this article. As a seasoned, feminist-to-the-core father who has given considerable thought to male gender issues, one challenge among many in this area will be how effectively a given male can manage the sometimes challenging dance between long, genetically hard-wired eyes/sexuality and sincere desires to support the health, independence, and life success of those with whom he has influence. …..Bravo! Thank you.

  34. Feminism doesn’t blame men for everything. Feminism blames patriarchy. There’s a difference.

    • It appears the site moderator doesn’t like the truth about feminists. What’s up Henry? Are feminists quotes too much for you?

      • Come on Henry, show some integrity and explain why you are censoring quotes from the mouths of feminists?

        “I feel that ‘man-hating’ is an honorable and viable political act, that the oppressed have a right to class-hatred against the class that is oppressing them.”
        Robin Morgan, Ms. Magazine Editor.

        “Hello, my name is Mary Man-Hating-is-Fun. Ever since I learned to embrace my feminist nature, I found great joy in threatening men’s lives, flicking off frat brothers and plotting the patriarchy’s death. I hate men because they are men.”
        Patriarchy Slam, University of New Hampshire, March 2005

        “Life in this society being, at best, an utter bore and no aspect of society being at all relevant to women, there remains to civic-minded, responsible, thrill-seeking females only to overthrow the government, eliminate the money system, institute complete automation, and destroy the male sex.”
        Valerie Solana, SCUM founder (Society for Cutting Up Men.)

        “Men are rapists, batterers, plunderers, killers; these same men are religious prophets, poets, heroes, figures of romance, adventure, accomplishment, figures ennobled by tragedy and defeat. Men have claimed the earth, called it ‘Her’. Men ruin Her. Men have airplanes, guns, bombs, poisonous gases, weapons so perverse and deadly that they defy any authentically human imagination.”
        Andrea Dworkin, Pornography: Men Possessing Women

        “All sex, even consensual sex between a married couple, is an act of violence perpetrated against a woman.”
        Catherine MacKinnon

        “The proportion of men must be reduced to and maintained at approximately 10% of the human race.”
        Sally Miller Gearhart

        “If life is to survive on this planet, there must be a decontamination of the Earth. I think this will be accompanied by an evolutionary process that will result in a drastic reduction of the population of males”
        Mary Daly, Professor at Boston College, 2001

        “We are, as a sex, infinitely superior to men.”
        Elizabeth Cady Stanton

        None of these people have been soundly repudiated by the feminist movement. To the contrary, they’ve been embraced and honored.

        • Hi Denis,

          I’m the writer of this article. Thanks for reading and commenting. I understand your frustration with the “feminist” quotes that you’ve pulled; I’m frustrated by them too. They do not represent my understanding or identification with feminism, nor do I support their messaging.

          Feminism, like any movement, has extremism. Personally, I view the quotes above as the equivalent to fundamentalist rhetoric. Much like most Muslims do not agree or support Islamic extremists using their religion as false justification for terrorism, and many Christians do not support hateful and bigoted language that is often associated with the most extreme end of the spectrum, I do not support the language used above.

          Thanks for reading,


        • Emily, I never made any such direct accusations about your involvement with the more radical brand of feminists. I do actually know of a few feminists that I respect a great deal, but not many. I don’t know you and I wouldn’t prejudge you. Hugo on the other hand, doesn’t have a very good history. Personally, I avoid the “F” word, but I also respond to unsubstantiated opinions. Feminism is not all sunshine and flowers, there is a significant amount of anti-male sentiment and female entitlement in the ranks.

          I didn’t criticize your article, I actually thought it was thoughtful and as the father of 6 yr old twin daughters I have given these things much consideration.

          My daughters have dolls and dresses and we dress up on special occasions. I don’t want them to become gender neutral and I want them to experience everything in life. However, it’s the other toys that we usually play with; the lego, dinosaurs, webkinz and lots of outdoor and recreational activities. I fully realize that I do have a choice to subconsciously encourage them in some direction. However, I also realize that my influence is limited and will become less relevant when they are teenagers. I look at the big picture, rather than laying blame entirely on men.

          I went to the mall tonight with my girls. I don’t like the mall because of the big advertisements of scantily clad buxom women all over the place. I tried an experiment to test Hugo’s hypothesis, I watched what they were looking at and most often they were not looking at me unless I said something to draw their attention. One of them asked me “why is she eating that rose”, referring to one of the large and more seductive advertisements. I was stunned at first, but then I just casually responded, “kinda gross isn’t it?”

          I don’t even associate with superficial women and a lot of women find that offensive because I have high standards.

      • Henry P. Belanger says:

        They’re wildly irrelevant on several different levels.Valorie Solanis? Dude. C’mon. Stick to the topic at hand: Talking to your daughter about health & beauty.

        • Dude, I’m just challenging the false claim that feminists don’t hate men.

          Get some integrity and consistency in your white knight comment policy.

          GMPM is lacking in integrity and intellectual honesty.

        • Henry P. Belanger says:

          Denis, you’re wrong. we’re ridiculously permissive here. But the trolling — and yes, being endlessly redundant, making the same tired argument 10,000 times, intentionally misreading posts for the sake of making it for the 10,001st time, being perpetually off-topic, being intentionally antagonistic, these all count as trolling — is beginning to have a chilling effect on the other 98% of our readers / potential commenters.

          As I’ve mentioned before, we don’t have a full-time mod. But when I happen to see comments that are just full of quotes, without context or analysis, I erase them— especially when they’ve been posted, by you, on 12 other stories on the site.

        • Can I point something out here, DENIS, mate, you need to see someone and I mean that both sincerly and seriously. You clearly have a significant issue surrounding feminism that you are projecting into you opinion on just about everything related to women. This article is truly not about feminism in anyway, yet you agressively attack it like it was asking dads to burn their daughters bras (forgive my simplification and my analygy people). It’s unhealthy and you really need to find some one who you can talk about this issue with.
          good luck

        • Henry, lets deal with the issue of integrity.

          I didn’t start the discussion about feminism, but I thought that both sides did not properly substantiate their opinions, they didn’t provide any evidence.

          The claim that feminists do not hate men is easily refuted by those relevant quotes. Yeah, NAFALT, but if a Christian fundamentalist had written this article then that would become relevant to the discussion and I highly doubt you would censor any factual evidence that shines a light on the not so great history of Christianity.

          The discussion had already begun and you did not stop it. You only became involved to censor factual quotes from prominent feminists that really provides some perspective on the ugly side of feminism. Yes, it is ugly.

          Furthermore, you actually modified my comment and allowed the opinion to be posted but censored the factual substantiation.

          I’ve never seen you get involved when the female-feminist enforcers are directing hateful personal attacks on men and I’ve taken a lot of those knives, but that’s part of the game IMO and I have a thick skin.

          Integrity would require that you are consistent in your comment policy and not use it selectively when the facts are embarrassing to your side.

        • “But when I happen to see comments that are just full of quotes, without context or analysis, I erase them— especially when they’ve been posted, by you, on 12 other stories on the site.”

          Henry, you are admitting to purposely censoring factual substantiation and only allowing unsubstantiated opinion. You’re not censoring the feminist troll enforcers throwing knives at men, just the facts.

        • Henry P. Belanger says:


          This is perfectly representative of your approach –

          You read my mind and project my intentions (re: Christians) and infer that something is true because you’ve never seen it (female-feminist attackers).

          And you accuse me of intellectual dishonesty? C’mon.

        • Henry, I’m stating the facts about your apparent lack of integrity and how you don’t have any consistent comment policy.

          You are only censoring the factual substantiation that is embarrasing to your side (the feminists)

          I’m not reading your mind, just describing what’s going on here.

          Are you going to lie to me and tell me that this is NOT a feminist site?

        • “You read my mind and project my intentions (re: Christians) and infer that something is true because you’ve never seen it (female-feminist attackers).”

          I don’t know what you’re talking about, but you’re obviously in denial and can’t be bothered to provide and substantiative explaination to back up your opinions.

          Where did you get your education?

    • I’d like to share this comment from one of my brothers who has lived a life of hell and nobody seems to care, especially “good men”.

      “I remember my mother telling her children that they had to choose, we would either stop loving our father, or she would stop loving us.

      She would dial his phone number, had us the phone, and tell us that she expected us to tell him we hated him. This particular cruelty was mostly reserved for my older brother S.

      My mother is a professional feminist, in the sense that she makes her academic living by learning and teaching the feminist gospel.

      Living in her house was very much like a rat living in a Biology laboratory. Every time she would learn a new man-hating cruelty, she would try it out on her children.

      Feminists see children as commodities that exist for the benefit of their mother. Unborn, they can be aborted if inconvenient. Infants, they can be given away, used as pawns, or kept, as needed. Toddlers, they can be used for sympathy, child support, or ignored. And so on.”

      • Ok, I am a feminist and I care—because that comment exactly encapsulates my mother, except she wasn’t a feminist. It sounds like your brother was living with someone who had Borderline Personality Disorder. My mother abused my siblings and me in the exact same way, admonishing us for loving our father more (a self-fulfilling prophecy).

        Being a feminist who has experienced this kind of abuse and is in therapy for it, I would say it’s pretty unfair to generalise the behaviours of someone with BPD onto all feminists: that being said, I understand his rage. I hated all Christians for a long time because that’s what my mom was. It took a lot of therapy and healing to get over that.

        I suppose what I am trying to say is that I respect the anger that some of you feel against feminists who have hurt or abused you. I have felt that before too after growing up abused; however, the fact of the matter is that there are abusers in every demographic, men, women, feminists, MRA’s, Christians, Atheists—and it is sort of futile to resent an entire group of people based on the actions of chemical imbalances of a few.

        I know your rebuttal will be something along the lines of “men have no access to DV services/men are not taken seriously when they are abused/feminists think women are perfect and therefore can’t abuse,” but I would like you to take me at my word when I say:

        1. My father has been able to access a lot of free, state-funded therapy and care after the psychological abuse he experienced at the hands of my mother. He also was able to get a fair share in his divorce settlement even after he was the one who cheated (I couldn’t blame him for cheating after what he’d been through). However, I still think he should have gotten sole custody of my brother and a larger percentage of the property. I am a feminist, and I have discussed this in feminist circles, and I have written about this on feminist websites. No one has batted an eyelash about the fact that I unilaterally support my father in the custody and property proceedings, or that he has been abused. Feminists are a lot more supportive of a more egalitarian distribution of legal recourse. Of course, I am in Canada, and the system is different here.

        2. I think that the DV categories in the States sound sort of bogus and sexist: the idea that women are the fairer or more virtuous sex and therefore couldn’t abuse or rape is actually a tenet of traditional sexism, and we need to believe that women can be both abusers and good people in order to start viewing women as fully human. I believe, and so does every feminist I have ever spoken to (along with many a modern feminist theorist) that women need to be held fully accountable in the justice system before we can be fully equal in society. Part of being a citizen is being accountable. The legal system need to change and hold women more accountable before equality is possible. I don’t think you will actually catch many feminists saying “we want special treatment.” We want equal treatment.

        3. That being said, I don’t support the prison-/military-industrial complex; I think it disproportionately penalises men of colour and lower class men simply for being of colour or lower class. I also support reform of the prison/judicial system, reform of social programs, and the abolishment of the draft or other draconian war measures (I can be slightly libertarian). I took up this position after reading the works of such feminists as Angela Davis and Patricia Hill Collins.

        I hope this refutes some of you ideas that feminists don’t care about men’s rights or men. Some of us have been abused by women, a lot of us love and cherish many men in out lives, many of us have brothers and fathers we love—in other words, I would appreciate the hurtful name-calling that asserts we don’t care for half the people in our lives to stop.

        Also, it may be good for you to read up on third wave feminism, of which intersectionality is the hallmark:

        This principle actually sounds quite a bit like the MRA idea of “Alphas”—except feminists started talking about it in the ’80s—and holds that not one category of identity is constituent of a person’s privilege. So yes, there are male privileges, but a lot of those are mitigated by class, race, ability, etc. Therefore, I don’t think you can assert that feminists are hating on “men” as a class, because intersectional theory holds that men are not constituent of a class.

        In short, I think that the old tried and true “feminists hate men, look at Valerie Solanas and Andrea Dworkin” line is getting old—yes, those women hated men, and they were part of a feminism that may have even rewarded that kind of behaviour. However, I have never read these women in my Women’s studies minor, and we pretty much learn they were white/class-privileged, misguided second-wavers. I agree with very little of what they averred int heir philosophy, and they are largely irrelevant because of their hate. Modern radical feminists who seem to like them are really transphobic, and unilaterally despised by any third waver feminists or queer theory/antiracist/intersectional feminists (most of us). Check out a site like Feministe, Feministing, et al.—you will find they are pretty much all third wave, and there is quite a bit of generational conflict with second wavers. Those women you quote are either irrelevant, or fast becoming so.

        • Absolutely unfair to characterize all feminists with BPD. However, after a few years of extensive research in DV, it is abundantly clear that feminist academics have lied to the public about the truth of family violence. The result is that children continue to suffer, while violent women are left untreated.

          I am very happy to hear that you are concerned about these problems, but you are in the minority. The “gud myn” project, however is only concerned about blaming men and holding men responsible and is deliberately ignorant of helping men in need.

          Add that to the widespread intellectual dishonesty, elitism and academic charlatans and the “gud myn” project is destined for failure.

        • I think so far this website has featured quite a variety of reasonable voices, and I have never seen a consensus in the comments–which is a sign of a good debate.

          It is one thing that feminist academics have lied about family violence, but have you ever considered that the vast majority of younger, less age-privileged feminists may disagree? Have you ever been in an online feminist community and noticed the resentment towards the gender essentialism and transphobia of older feminists? Have you noticed how older feminists often publicly decry or erase the work of younger feminists? As an antiracist, I also find older feminists frustrating simply because their discourse is so white and middle-class dominated. (See Betty Friedan, etc.) I would actually more strongly identify with the term anti-oppressionist.

          Take these public call outs of feminists by other, influential young womanists and feminists:

          Hell here are two of mine:

          If you think it is a movement that isn’t accountable for its extreme elements, think again.

          You should read some queer or antiracist feminist blogs from younger feminists. The third wave is all about collaborating with various marginalised groups, and it is probably not the feminism you grew up with. I have studied postcolonial feminisms, third world feminisms, islamic feminisms, christian and mormon feminisms, conservative feminisms, libertarian feminisms, antiracist feminisms, disability feminisms, womanism, marxist feminisms–all kinds of feminisms which aren’t neccessarily considered legitimate by the more liberal feminists who hold institutional and organisational power.

          I think the point here is that what you are calling a monolith (feminist academics) is actually part of an intellectually and white/class privileged group of people with a lot of liberal sway, which actually does not represent the vast majority of feminist discourse. As a rural person, for example, I find a lot of urban-focussed feminist scholarship to be incredibly myopic and offensive.

          As far as this site blaming men and holding them accountable for all of society’s ills, I think that may be in the eye of the beholder. You’ll get one extreme of self-flagellation, such as Hugo Schwyzer, and one extreme of pseudo-misogyny and persecution complexes, such as Paul Elam… I see very little consensus between the two, yet both were posted on this site–the rest seem somewhat moderate.

          My dad, for example, a victim of abuse from his wife (my mother), has found this site and the book to be very healing. He has started working on himself–getting more exercise, finally getting braces, going on vacations, enjoying his new relationship with the woman he cheated on my mom with–in short, I am happy abused men like my dad have a community like this in which they can talk about men’s issues. You may not find it personally satisfying, but you should be sensitive to that fact that a lot of victims of abuse find this to be a space of healing. Even if you don’t neccessarily see it that way, by saying this space doesn’t help men in need you are erasing the lived experiences of abuse victims like my father, and I would kindly appreciate it if you considered how words like that can impact other men before you write them.

          And yes, as a lower class rural person, yes, I would like to see more perspectives like mine featured, but that takes doing… you know? Maybe I will submit a piece, or you will submit a piece. With a site like this it is really up to you what you want it to look like.

        • Cooper Fleishman says:

          “Maybe I will submit a piece, or you will submit a piece.”

          Please do!

          Or email me directly.


        • @switchintoglide,

          So…where are the feminists who are supporting inclusive family violence programs?

          The DV issue is the most disputed social program in academia.

          Feminist researchers only study violence against women and they design their studies and data selection to support their theory.

          Here are the experts:

          Where are the non-discriminatory feminists on this issue?

        • Did you even read my comment? I told you to look online. Though younger feminists don’t yet have any institutional power the way a select few liberal second wavers do, there are actually a lot more of us. The problem is, many of us are of colour, disabled, queer, lower class, or rural, and therefore don’t have as much of a voice.

          Check out something like this for example, edited by indigenous hip-hop feminist Jessica Yee:

          I would appreciate it if instead of making the same comments over and over again without paying much heed to responses, you would actually engage with what I have put a lot of effort into laying out for you. I have done the bare minimum of google-ing and come up with the following three easy to find resources, and it is beginning to sound like you haven’t done as much “research” as you profess to have done.

          Also, as a very specific example THE ONLY space I have seen a consistently seen men’s experiences of rape and sexual assault be believed and not ridiculed or doubted is among sex-positive feminists who operate along an enthusiastic consent model. Even the rape culture model addresses the need to prevent male rape:

          Enthusiastic consent:

          The enthusiastic consent model makes the person who initiates physical contact responsible, regardless of gender, for fighting against the culture of victim blaming. Under this model, the person initiating contact is required to take account of and not exploit a relationship, the other person’s intoxicated state, or the power of peer pressure or social conditioning. No matter what the type of contact, the initiating party must get genuine consent. It is not acceptable to touch another person who has not given affirmative permission, no matter how harmless it seems to the one doing the touching.

          Read more at Suite101: Using Enthusiastic Consent to Fight Rape Culture: Defining Sexual Assault Broadly and Avoiding Victim Blaming

          Rape culture:

          Rape culture is 1 in 33 men being sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. Rape culture is encouraging men to use the language of rape to establish dominance over one another (“I’ll make you my bitch”). … Rape culture is ignoring the cavernous need for men’s prison reform in part because the threat of being raped in prison is considered an acceptable deterrent to committing crime, and the threat only works if actual men are actually being raped.

          If you want an example of feminists supporting DV law reform, you have no further to look than the wikipedia article on feminism, which provides numerous citations for the following assertion in the very first section:

          Some feminists have argued that men’s issues are an important part of feminism, as men’s equality is necessary for women’s equality.[51][52][53] These feminists point to legal and social imbalances in regard to father’s rights, male rape and spousal battery, negative social expectations for men, and a narrow definition of “masculinity.”

          Contrary to common beliefs, studies have shown that feminists tend to have neutral feelings towards men, and self-identitied feminists tend to have less hostile attitudes towards men than non-feminists. [54] Some feminists argue that the characterization of feminism as misandrous has been promoted by detractors to discredit the movement, and has contributed to reluctance among supporters of feminism to identify as such. [55][56]

        • And just in case you don’t actually feel like looking those works up, here they are:

          # ^ 1 Harv. Women’s L.J. 107 (1978) Fathers’ Rights and Feminism: The Maternal Presumption Revisited; Uviller, Rena K.

          # ^ Unwed Fathers’ Rights, Adoption, and Sex Equality: Gender-Neutrality and the Perpetuation of Patriarchy

          # ^ Feminism for Men: Legal Ideology and the Construction of Maleness, N Levit – UCLA L. Rev., 1995 –

          # ^ Faludi, Susan, Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man (1999 (pbk. 2000)).

          # ^ Tong, Rosemarie Putnam, Feminist Thought: A More Comprehensive Introduction (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 2d ed. 1998 (ISBN 0-8133-3295-8)), p. 70.

          In the US, a hegemonic defintion of DV is gender neutral:

          The U. S. Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) defines domestic violence as a “pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner”. The definition adds that domestic violence “can happen to anyone regardless of race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender”, and that it can take many forms, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional, economic, and psychological abuse.[10]

          ^ a b c d e Johnson, Michael P., Kathleen J. Ferraro (2000). “Research on Domestic Violence in the 1990s: Making Distinctions”. Journal of Marriage and the Family 62 (4): 948–63. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2000.00948.x.

          Martin S. Fiebert of the Department of Psychology at California State University, Long Beach, provides an annotated bibliography of over two hundred scholarly works which demonstrate that women and men often exhibit comparable levels of IPV violence.[93] In a Los Angeles Times article about male victims of domestic violence, Fiebert suggests that “…consensus in the field is that women are as likely as men to strike their partner but that—as expected—women are more likely to be injured than men.”[94] However, he noted, men are seriously injured in 38% of the cases in which “extreme aggression” is used. Fiebert additionally noted that his work was not meant to minimize the serious effects of men who abuse women.

          Here is a pretty sensible, reasonably feminist objection to the current state of DV research:

          Clearly, shelter houses full of battered women demonstrate the need for their continued existence. Moreover, outside of North American and Northern Europe, gender inequality is still the norm (Archer, in press). However, within those countries that have been most progressive about women’s equality, female violence has increased as male violence has decreased (Archer, in press). There is not one solution for every domestically violent situation; some require incarceration of a terrorist perpetrator, others can be dealt with through court-mandated treatment, still others may benefit from couples therapy. However, feminist inspired intervention standards that preclude therapists in many states from doing effective therapy with male batterers are one outcome of this paradigm. The failure to recognize female threat to husbands, female partners, or children is another (Straus et al., 1980 found 10% higher rates of child abuse reported by mothers than by fathers).
          The one size fits all policy driven by a simplistic notion that intimate violence is a recapitulation of class war does not most effectively deal with this serious problem or represent the variety of spousal violence patterns revealed by research. At some point, one has to ask whether feminists are more interested in diminishing violence within a population or promoting a political ideology. If they are interested in diminishing violence, it should be diminished for all members of a population and by the most effective and utilitarian means possible. This would mean an intervention/treatment approach based on other successful approaches from criminology and psychology.[90]

        • Thanks for the references, it’s all good stuff, I was specifically asking about feminist support for non-discriminatory DV policies. Most of your response is OT and dealing with other issues that I was not addressing.

          For the few that you cited dealing with DV:

          -I’m familiar with some of Johnson’s work and critisizms, I will look into that reference.
          -Fiebert is absolutely not a feminist

          “Here is a pretty sensible, reasonably feminist objection to the current state of DV research:”

          -You’re claiming it’s from a feminist source, but where did that citation come from? Archer and Straus are absolutely not feminists and are quite critical of feminist academics in their writing.

        • “Clearly, shelter houses full of battered women demonstrate the need for their continued existence…”

          – I did a little search. That is NOT a feminist source, it is a quote from Dutton and Nichols, with whom I am quite familiar with.

        • FYI, here is a bit of Dutton’s critisizm of Johnson:

          “In a recent issue of Journal of Child Custody, Michael Johnson and I engaged in a debate regarding the use of what I call the “gender paradigm” (Dutton and Nicholls 2005)in custody disputes. The gender paradigm, as I tried to point out, is the collective set of beliefs in the domestic violence field, that intimate partner violence is exclusively or predominantly male perpetrated, when the research data say otherwise.”

          “I will only briefly re-assert that the evidence shows IPV is perpetrated more by women (Archer 2000) including the severe form (Stets and Straus 1992). Johnson’s inability or unwillingness to comprehend these data is a pure example of the belief perseverance I have already described (Dutton and Nicholls 2005).”

          “These data, based on a huge nationally representative sample, tell a very different picture than that presented by Jaffe et al, Bancroft et al, or Johnson, all of whom over rely on shelter samples to draw erroneous conclusions about risk to children. Johnson concludes by saying “assume that all violence is intimate terrorism (which is “largely male perpetrated and related to gender attitudes”) until proven otherwise”.

          “Compare this to the American Psychological Association Guidelines for forensic evaluation summarised in Weissman and DeBow (2003). The forensic evaluation must begin with a “cognitive set and evaluative attitude” of the assessor that is “neutral, objective and detached” (p. 39). Jaffe et al, Bancroft et al and Johnson make adherence to this principle impossible.”

        • And how would you respond to the fact that those sources are being passed around and read with a lot of seriousness in feminist circles? Even if the authors are not themselves feminist, what if a lot of elements within the feminist movement agree with that paradigm? Honestly, that is where I have come across all counter-arguments for gender based and not therapy-based interventions for abusers. I first came across these studies in Michael Kimmel’s work.

        • “And how would you respond to the fact that those sources are being passed around and read with a lot of seriousness in feminist circles? Even if the authors are not themselves feminist, what if a lot of elements within the feminist movement agree with that paradigm?”

          I would be absolutely thrilled, surprised and I would like to meet them. Kimmel, however doesn’t have a good reputation for his dehumanization of masculinity. Strange that a sociologist like Kimmel doesn’t understand the societal impact of dehumanizing a sub-group of the population.

          It’s a great read, excellent summary and very critical of feminist research:

          Part 1 – Dutton, Nicholls, 2006 The gender paradigm in domestic violence research and theory.


          Part 2 – Dutton, Corvo, 2006 Transforming a flawed policy: A call to revive psychology and science in domestic violence research and practice


          I also have a copy of the 2010 “The Gender Paradigm in Family Court Processes: Re-balancing the Scales of Justice from Biased Social Science” but I’m not sure if it’s available on the internet. I usually get them before theyre published.

        • You should read some black feminist thought, such as Patricia Hill Collins, bell hooks, and Angela Davis. There is an enormous amount of critique of white liberal feminism and its cooperation with state legal structures, as these disproportionately impact communities of colour and lower income communities.

          The point being, with all of the DV issues, a lot of feminists believe that utilising state legal and juridical structures is in itself problematic, and therefore critique the larger superstructures; while you may not see them in sociological theory as much, you certainly see them in political theory and philosophy. I think you are looking in the wrong places if you want to find feminists who agree with some of your positions. For me, working in public health, I always advocate harm reduction, education, therapy, counselling, support networks, and community-based solutions before interventions by the legal system. The legal system is classist, sexist, racist, and colonialist.

          In summary, what I have been trying to direct you to is the fact that you clearly have a lot of disagreements with white class privileged ivory tower feminists, and you are missing that you have exactly the same issues with them as the majority of feminists: those of us who are queer, of colour, disabled, fat, lower class, rural, trans, male, transnational, third world… etc. etc. Those feminists happen to have more power because they operate within social structures of liberalism and neoliberalism easier than most.

        • Angela Davis:

          Davis has continued a career of activism, and has written several books. A principal focus of her current activism is the state of prisons within the United States. She considers herself an abolitionist, not a “prison reformer,” and has referred to the United States prison system as the “prison-industrial complex”.[22] Davis suggested focusing social efforts on education and building “engaged communities” to solve various social problems now handled through state punishment.[2] Davis was one of the primary founders of Critical Resistance, a national grassroots organization dedicated to building a movement to abolish the prison system.

          women’s college in Atlanta, on prison reform, minority issues, and the ills of the criminal justice system.[27] At the University of California, Santa Cruz (UC Santa Cruz), she participated in a 2004 panel concerning Kevin Cooper. She also spoke in defense of Stanley “Tookie” Williams on another panel in 2005,[28] and 2009.[29]

          bell hooks:

          We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity by bell hooks is a book collection of 10 essays on the way in which white culture marginalizes black males. The essays are intended to provide cultural criticism and solutions to the problems she identifies.[1]

          In We Real Cool, hooks suggests that black males are forced to repress themselves in white America. She suggests the ways in which racist and sexist attitudes developed in American culture have criminalized and dehumanized black males, and the ways in which these myths have harmed the black community. In the book hooks states that she believes that hip-hop as a whole strongly reflects imperialist supremacist capitalist patriarchy.[2]

          Patricia Hill Collins:

          Hill Collins also argues that it is critical for African Americans to define new visions of success that resist traditional Western/ American views. She argues that equating masculinity with wealth and femininity with submissiveness and financial dependence is harmful to all groups, but especially for African Americans, who have been traditionally locked out of the economic opportunity structure. In a society where black men face threats to their economic well being, and disproportionately are incarcerated and lack access to quality education, any vision of masculinity that suggests that to be a man is to be financially successful puts a great number of black males at odds. Collins argues for a new, more holistic version of success, that includes visions of the importance of personal character apart from economic achievement.

  35. Emily,
    I rarely say this, but this article really opened my eyes and will make me much more aware of what I say around my daughters about the physical beauty of women. Thank you for this. Now some advice for you: Replace “amateur writer” with “professional writer” in your bio. You’re worthy!

  36. It’s exactly what you do, though. You blame women for everything. And Emily did mention that women do have an effect on what little girls think by comments such as “do I look fat,” and the like. She’s not saying it’s dad’s fault. She’s saying dads need to do everything they can to not contribute to this culture. This is a website ABOUT men. Get that through your head.

    • “The voices of men, aren’t wanted here by feminists that feel that they are entitled to micromanage the conversations of men in the comments section.”

      Excellent observation which will fall on deaf ears, of course.

    • If you don’t like the site… how about you GO AWAY?

      • @Yeah…

        How about you let this site do what it claims it WANTS to do instead of becoming a shrieking effing harpy every time someone says something you dont care for?

        From TGMP About Us section….their mission statement of sorts:

        “Do we agree with everything our writers and guest columnists have to say? Absolutely not. But are those things worth saying? Absolutely. In the end, the Good Men Project Magazine is a gathering place for thoughtful men with a conscience. We may not always agree with each other, but we’re all here because we’re trying—occasionally with some success—to be good men, however we define that.”

  37. I think the message here, as it was with Hugo Schwyzer’s article on Princess Culture, is to just me more aware of how your word/actions impact your children. My dad starting making comments about my body when I was a teenager, telling I needed to watch what I eat, to make sure I don’t get fat, that I should go to the gym (not to get strong, but to get thin was the implication). I remember a particular incident, when we were walking on the beach on Cape Cod, when I was a gawky 12 or 13 year old that I walked like a man and that I needed to learn to walk like a women, and then he went on to tell me how a woman should walk to be alluring. Only now that I am 27 year old adult do I realize how fucked up that was. The message I got over and over from my father (who really pushed me academically and valued my smarts) was that looks matter more. What is truly upsetting is that he thought he was doing me a favor by telling me how to be sexy or that I needed to watch my weight.

  38. silverfaire says:

    “women are taught entitlement” ????? snort.

    “… are taught narcissism and product buying” ???

    Narcissism is a far cry from insecurity and not-measuring-up (which is really what’s taught so that product buying to “correct” the “problem” is the end result).

    Not to mention … have you seen children’s commercials on Saturday mornings? HALF of them are aimed at boys (be the hero, fight with your ACTION figures). I’d say we’re doing a bang-up job of training BOTH sexes to be horrid consumers (buy this car … naked girls LOVE it. Buy this beer … women will think you’re awesome).

    The knee-jerk responses to supposed feminist blamings are getting rather old too.

    If you think feminists don’t hold females accountable as well … then you know a lot less of feminism than you think you do.

    Gender bashing helps no one. Not recognizing there is a problem against both genders in different ways also helps no one. Be part of the solution, not part of the sulky problem.

    • This really is a women’s issue, they need better role models.

      • There are many worthy female role models in the world. Unfortunately, they are all buried under and overshadowed by the beauty queens. It all comes down to societal values and who we place in the limelight. I had to actively search for my role models, but once I knew where to look my options were endless.

    • I don’t think she was trying to say girls are the only victims of misogyny because she pointed out at the beginning this article was geared toward father-daughter relationships.

  39. the consequences for girls when health and beauty get distorted tend to be much more severe
    (10 times as many women battle eating disorders than men)

    Really, maybe you should recalibrate your measuring device. Beauty between men and woman are expressed in different terms. Apparently your measurement doesn’t include the tens of thousands of men who put work and income as a higher priority than diet and health. I wonder what messages they got from their parents as young boys! Of course the quick and easy response is to blame them for their eating disorders and ignore the damage they do to themselves as self inflicted. Hmmmm. I’m not competing for sympathy here or pointing a finger, I’m telling you why in a balanced perspective a call to health is a good message. I’ll save my sympathies for someone that could use real help, Instead of someone competing for attention. Excellent writing and your dad sounds like a fine man.

  40. Fantastic article… thank you for writing on this and sharing your experiences. I could feel an immediate impact to my way of thinking just from reading this. I’ll be linking to this article.

  41. Great article,

    There’s a fine line to be walked here.

    It is massively important to nurture your child’s self-esteem, but how to do this without over-inflating their developing ego?

    • Agreed, it’s a great article, but I actually don’t think it’s a fine line at all. I always tell my daughter that she is clever. Clever girl, well done, good work. I actually never said the word pretty until she did (she said pretty about a item of clothing) and now we use it in the context of the dress she has on, a flower, or her Mum. Of course there will be plenty of time to tell her she looks pretty (prom, wedding day etc) but I think the first important thing to reinforce is her mind. I want her self esteem to be based in her ability to problem solve, talk, work things out etc. And before you ask, yes, she is a very pretty little lady, but I want her to know her worth is based in her brain, with looks a happy bonus.


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