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Do Daughters Cure Daddy's Sexism?

A lot of guys have a hard time seeing women as people. They think we’re some kind of special lady-creature, somewhere between a pet and a peer, not like them in some pretty fundamental ways. This leads to All Kinds Of Problems. From the recent flap over women and video game culture to the persistent pay gap between the sexes, sexism is real and ugly.

What can cure it? According to this Jezebel article, one of our best weapons against men’s sexist blind spots might be girl babies. Apparently having a daughter is one way to break through the wall of misogyny and get guys to pay attention to the fact that women — at least their daughters — are real people just like them.

It’s not just the Jezzies who think so. They quote a recent study that says men have fewer traditional gender roles once they have a daughter. They’ve also been reading Reddit, where a thread about having daughters got dudes to open up about misogyny and fatherhood. Guys were willing to say point blank that having a girl baby made them realize their kid was a person regardless of her gender.

Well, way to go! You get a feminist cookie.

Jezebel is talking specifically about nerd dads, the ones who read Reddit and play video games and are immersed in a culture of geeky misogyny. The study they link to isn’t about any particular subculture, though, it’s just looking at fathers in general.

It’s great that having daughters helps men break through their own sexism, but it’d be nice to think that work could happen before they have kids? How about raising feminist sons in the first place? Or refusing to reproduce with men who don’t see us as people?

I don’t want my baby girls to have to do the work of making their dad see me as human. Fortunately, in my case, I don’t have to. My husband is a good feminist and a good listener already. He’s got his blind spots about gender privilege like we all do, but he’s very willing to be called on it when he stumbles into some bit of misogynist foolishness. He’s raising his son to have a similar attitude.

It’s hard to say how much impact parents really have when it comes to instilling values in our kids. But I’m hopeful that our efforts to work against gender bias in our children will pay off more than any magic effect of seeing a baby girl as a person.

Did your kids make you (or your partner) see gender differently? Tell us about it in the comments.

Photo: istock

 

 

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