My Dad was an amazing man. Although he’s been gone for almost 19 years, I can still hear him encouraging me whenever I’m attempting something that seems difficult, and I can still see his eyes brighten and his big smile when he would see me. My Dad was always thrilled to see me. He was affectionate, thoughtful, loving, compassionate yet firm, had a great sense of humor, and he held me to high standards so I would know to do the same for myself. He was respectful toward and honored women, thus showing me that I should expect the same.
He also had a lot of his own demons that he allowed to prevent him from feeling truly empowered and living authentically. It’s not that modeling weakness for me was an issue — it was refusing to recognize and move through the weakness that created the dissonance.
Empowered fathers have all the positive characteristics my Dad did, and they also acknowledge where they can grow. They aren’t afraid to show their daughters that being human takes guts. High standards mean nothing if you aren’t willing to work through the things that make it difficult for you to live by those standards.
The standards of feminism, by definition, include the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes; or organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests (Merriam Webster, 2017). In practice, feminism is about believing, and acting on the belief, that women should be valued as much as men in our society.
This is where feminism needs empowered fathers.
When Dads demonstrate the belief that they offer value to the world — by letting life live through them, by acknowledging their weaknesses but not allowing the difficulty to impede the expansion of their being, by not staying stuck in a victim mindset — they offer their daughters a model of what it means to value one’s self.
I spent many years denying my own weaknesses, my own demons, because I was too afraid I would never overcome them. The model of the world I was shown included the denial of weaknesses, so that was all I knew for quite some time. While I firmly believe in the power of focusing on strengths and building upon them, it is also essential to acknowledge weaknesses and build from those. Without that acknowledgment and movement forward, we stay stuck in a cycle of shame and embarrassment. Movement forward may not mean anything more than acknowledging the shortcoming and recognizing how to use our strengths to correct for it. That’s growth. That’s empowerment.
It is not the beliefs of others that hold women back. It is our belief that we are somehow not worthy. It doesn’t matter who tries to create the illusion that women aren’t equal and it doesn’t matter who tries to oppress us.
Ultimately, we have to take responsibility for our rising.
But if we don’t know we have the ability to rise, the ascent will take longer to grow in its power. When we have an empowered man as our first and strongest role model, we are taught and consistently reminded that we are safe and secure in our own right.
The more empowered a father is, the stronger his daughter’s sense of worth and sense of self will be. He will empower her not only by example, but through practice, and this will cause her to be in that energy in order to attract others who do the same. If we can support men in their evolution as humans, rather than bash them when we feel slighted, all of us will be so much the better for it.
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