Antigone is launching a new feature called “I’m a feminist because..” in which we do short interviews with men or women of all walks of life who self-identify as feminists. Since my father recently ‘came out’ as a feminist this Christmas and since he’s played a key role in raising me to believe that I can do anything despite my gender, I wanted him to be the first person featured. So, here is his interview… which I must say made me all misty eyed and reminded me of why I love my father so much!
What does ‘feminism’ mean to you?
Feminism is to me a natural thing. Unfortunately, we cannot avoid the imposition that humanity and society make, without consideration to each person’s individuality, of positive or negative influences on its members. My personal viewpoint has always been to focus on the potential and the contribution each individual makes on his or her time.
With societal imposed standards of conduct and morality on sexuality and gender, the impact of each individual’s uniqueness is inhibited. Feminism is the tool we wield to break the mold of normalcy and make others question the norms.
Why do you think its important to consider yourself a feminist?
I have three daughters. My goal from the beginning was to mold their attitudes and actions so as not to accept the societal stereotype. As a new father sitting many times in the middle of the night trying to calm an upset infant, I realized that I held in my arms (whether it was a male child or a female child) the unlimited potential of a free willed human being. My goal as a father was to allow that unlimited potential to be freed and cultivated.
As the project manager of this endeavour, I will admit the challenge at the time seemed daunting and at times unrealistic, but oh what a challenge it would be to raise a child unafraid to reach for whatever success they desired and not be held back by societal norms but stretch for that elusive desire many would not begin to strive for. Therefore, if feminist is the label society would give me for my efforts then I feel it is important that I be identified as such. However, my goal was always for the title of a responsible parent.
How has your feminism influenced the way you act in your life?
Feminism has always caused me a great deal of consideration. I mean to say through the many trials I have faced since becoming a father of a daughter, I have tried when possible to consider my response at each fork in the road.
I suppose had I been the father to all male children I would not have followed an enlightened path. Instead, I would have probably continued in the mold of my all male family. However, once I was given the responsibility of raising a female child I had to rethink all of my norms; evaluating and CONSIDERING paths, reactions, responses, and plans for their best interests.
What main hurdle do you think women still face?
Women themselves are the main hurdle women still face. Until women stop allowing themselves to be denigrated, decide to demand that those attitudes change and drive that change through their daughters by infusing them with the knowledge that they do not have to subject themselves to this treatment, the male will continue to take advantage of their sexuality.
I for one think we have taken a huge step backwards in realizing our feminist goals by allowing the hip hop and rap industry to publish the denigrating music and videos our youth culture is being subjected to. The male youth will see this as an opportunity to objectify women and their sexuality rather than to glorify in the strengths each brings to the table.
What do you think is the most misunderstood aspect of feminism?
The misunderstanding of who a feminist is. I am quite sure that many who do not truly know my beliefs would not view me as a feminist, in fact, I may even be viewed as being chauvinistic. Thank god my daughter knows who I really am.