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Eye-opening video shows dads and their daughters get real about feminism

"What lessons have you learned by bringing a daughter into the world?"

viral video, parenting, social norms, education, role models
Image pulled from YouTube video.

Dads play a game with their daughters and get real about feminism.

"As the father of a daughter..."

So begins many a bad take these days by men outraged over news stories about sexual assault, harassment, or inequality.

While it's good to be outraged by those things, "As the father of a daughter" holds some troubling implications: first, that it's somehow difficult for them to see women as people deserving of fair treatment without having raised one. And second, that just having a daughter is apparently enough to make them an expert on women's issues.


Photographers Marzia Messina and Sham Hinchey wanted to challenge dads to really sit down and think about what feminism means and why it matters.

Inspired by talks with their own daughter, Penelope, they launched a project called "Dear Daughters" in which they recruited 22 men and their daughters, ages 8 to 11, to sit down and have frank conversations about equality.

Using a simple board game designed by Messina and Penelope, the dads and daughters took turns drawing question cards that prompted discussions.

The cards asked things like "How do you see yourself and what will you be doing when you're 25?" and "What lessons have you learned by bringing a daughter into the world?"

"The first questions were very soft, but as the game progressed they became more challenging and the couples really had to work hard and help each other," Messina says in an email.

The girls started with light musings about their future: "I'm going to be a social media influencer (when I'm 25)" one girl told her dad. Another said she "wouldn't necessarily be 'drinking drugs' or anything." Another told her dad she wanted to be a lawyer when she grew up.

From there, the daughters were asked to name a woman they admired: Michelle Obama, Jessie Graff (the first female Ninja Warrior champion), Venus and Serena Williams, and Hillary Clinton were all popular answers.

fathers, daughters, educational games, women's rights

A father attempts to see the world through his daughters' eyes.

Image pulled from YouTube video.

Soon the tables turned on the dads, who were asked to come up with a slogan for a hypothetical women's rights march.

With help from their daughters, they came up with some pretty solid taglines.

"We want equal rights and we want them now," one dad suggested. "She persisted," added another, referencing his admiration for Elizabeth Warren. "Go forward, be brave. That would be mine," said another.

(OK, so the actual slogans could use some workshopping.)

Watching the wheels turn in the dads' heads as they attempted to distill and encapsulate the essence of feminism in only a few words, is fascinating. You can tell it's something they thought they understood but had never been forced to articulate before.

Then: "What lessons have you learned by bringing a daughter into the world?"

A few of the men pondered how being a parent in general changes you. But others seemed heavily affected by the exercise of taking the time to see the world through their daughters' eyes — waking them up to problems that all women experience, not just their daughters.

"I never thought about the hate speech," said one of the dads. "There are a whole lot of words for women, but there aren't a lot of words to describe the same behavior in men."

"(I learned) just how few women there are in similar positions as there are men," said another, observing that there has never been a female president or a woman on the moon.

"It makes you wonder, can you change the world?" one of the fathers said. "And can you strengthen and prepare your daughter to be strong enough for the challenges in that world?"

At the end of the game, each pair posed for a portrait, with the hopes that these conversations would strengthen their relationships and help them communicate more openly about all kinds of important issues in the future.

feminism, parenting, gender roles, education, community

Dad has a conversation with his daughter about feminism.

Image pulled from YouTube video.


These discussions are a reminder that being a dad doesn't mean men suddenly inherently understand the importance of feminism — and that their support for gender equality has to extend beyond their own offspring.

That understanding and support comes only from effort, thought, and open conversation.

The same goes for all men. Having a wife, girlfriend, mother, or female friend doesn't give you a pass; it doesn't mean you don't have to put in the work to understand the world through a woman's eyes. Nor should you only begin caring about gender equality once you have women in your life who you care about. Women are people, whether you personally know them or not.


The power of "Dear Daughters" doesn't come from the fact that these men are fathers. It comes from the fact that many of them are examining inequality in the world for perhaps the first time — and hopefully not for the last time.

"It has inspired women to get their husbands involved in conversations which they inherently thought were reserved only for the females of the house."

Messina and Hinchey reiterated that being a father to daughters does not make a man a feminist, but that conversations like the one sparked in "Dear Daughters" can go a long way toward that goal.

Even more importantly, perhaps, they hope men will start having similar conversations about feminism with their sons, and/or with other men, unprompted by anything but a genuine desire to make the world a better place.

Watch the full video of the project below:


This article originally appeared on 3.1.17


Identity

Celebrate International Women's Day with these stunning photos of female leaders changing the world

The portraits, taken by acclaimed photographer Nigel Barker, are part of CARE's "She Leads the World" campaign.

Images provided by CARE

Kadiatu (left), Zainab (right)

True

Women are breaking down barriers every day. They are transforming the world into a more equitable place with every scientific discovery, athletic feat, social justice reform, artistic endeavor, leadership role, and community outreach project.

And while these breakthroughs are happening all the time, International Women’s Day (Mar 8) is when we can all take time to acknowledge the collective progress, and celebrate how “She Leads the World.

This year, CARE, a leading global humanitarian organization dedicated to empowering women and girls, is celebrating International Women’s Day through the power of portraiture. CARE partnered with high-profile photographer Nigel Barker, best known for his work on “America’s Next Top Model,” to capture breathtaking images of seven remarkable women who have prevailed over countless obstacles to become leaders within their communities.

“Mabinty, Isatu, Adama, and Kadiatu represent so many women around the world overcoming incredible obstacles to lead their communities,” said Michelle Nunn, President and CEO of CARE USA.

Barker’s bold portraits, as part of CARE’s “She Leads The World” campaign, not only elevate each woman’s story, but also shine a spotlight on how CARE programs helped them get to where they are today.

About the women:

Mabinty

international womens day, care.org

Mabinty is a businesswoman and a member of a CARE savings circle along with a group of other women. She buys and sells groundnuts, rice, and fuel. She and her husband have created such a successful enterprise that Mabinty volunteers her time as a teacher in the local school. She was the first woman to teach there, prompting a second woman to do so. Her fellow teachers and students look up to Mabinty as the leader and educator she is.

Kadiatu

international womens day, care.org

Kadiatu supports herself through a small business selling food. She also volunteers at a health clinic in the neighboring village where she is a nursing student. She tests for malaria, works with infants, and joins her fellow staff in dancing and singing with the women who visit the clinic. She aspires to become a full-time nurse so she can treat and cure people. Today, she leads by example and with ambition.

Isatu

international womens day, care.org

When Isatu was three months pregnant, her husband left her, seeking his fortune in the gold mines. Now Isatu makes her own way, buying and selling food to support her four children. It is a struggle, but Isatu is determined to be a part of her community and a provider for her kids. A single mother of four is nothing if not a leader.

Zainab

international womens day, care.org

Zainab is the Nurse in Charge at the Maternal Child Health Outpost in her community. She is the only nurse in the surrounding area, and so she is responsible for the pre-natal health of the community’s mothers-to-be and for the safe delivery of their babies. In a country with one of the world’s worst maternal death rates, Zainab has not lost a single mother. The community rallies around Zainab and the work she does. She describes the women who visit the clinic as sisters. That feeling is clearly mutual.

Adama

international womens day, care.org

Adama is something few women are - a kehkeh driver. A kehkeh is a three-wheeled motorcycle taxi, known elsewhere as a tuktuk. Working in the Kissy neighborhood of Freetown, Adama is the primary breadwinner for her family, including her son. She keeps her riders safe in other ways, too, by selling condoms. With HIV threatening to increase its spread, this is a vital service to the community.

Ya Yaebo

international womens day, care.org

“Ya” is a term of respect for older, accomplished women. Ya Yaebo has earned that title as head of her local farmers group. But there is much more than that. She started as a Village Savings and Loan Association member and began putting money into her business. There is the groundnut farm, her team buys and sells rice, and own their own oil processing machine. They even supply seeds to the Ministry of Agriculture. She has used her success to the benefit of people in need in her community and is a vocal advocate for educating girls, not having gone beyond grade seven herself.

On Monday, March 4, CARE will host an exhibition of photography in New York City featuring these portraits, kicking off the multi-day “She Leads the World Campaign.

Learn more, view the portraits, and join CARE’s International Women's Day "She Leads the World" celebration at CARE.org/sheleads.


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