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3 reasons we need to stop mocking dads who are protective of their daughters.

Threats and violence are never OK, but I reserve my right to be skeptical and, well, even kind of a jerk.

3 reasons we need to stop mocking dads who are protective of their daughters.

There's this one little boy in my daughter's day care class. I like to joke that I don't trust him.

He's every dad's worst nightmare. Tall (you know, for an infant), dark, and handsome. He's the oldest boy in class, and he can walk already. That makes him hot shit, and he knows it.

One day an email popped up in my inbox — all the parents get photos of their kids throughout the day: a blurry crawling pic here, a funny naptime shot there — but this one showed my daughter and this little Lothario holding hands. Holding hands!


The jokes were almost too easy. "Time for me and him to have a little talk," and "He better keep those hands to himself!"

As a progressive dad, I'm on board with the whole "Newsflash, it's 2016! Women are making their own decisions about their own bodies. And polishing your shotgun on the front porch when her prom date pulls up is, um, problematic" thing.

That's why it's so easy to make those kinds of jokes. In fact, the "overprotective dad" has been subject to a lot of ridicule lately.

But there I was looking at that photo, and for the first time, I felt "it" — a little twinge of terror. That desire to shelter and protect my daughter and not let anyone with remotely suspect intentions near her ever, ever, ever.

Which left me wondering: Does being a progressive dad mean I'm not allowed to be protective of my daughter anymore?

That I have to somehow pretend she won't face unique dangers and challenges that boys her age probably never will? That I have to treat her exactly the same way I would if she were my son, instead?

I don't think it does.

First, let me just say: When it comes to rape culture, our main goal should be, you know, fixing it. Not sheltering women.

We need to teach men to understand and respect consent. We need to stop objectifying and reducing women to their sexuality. And as men, we need to set a better example for the next generation.

I'm going to do my damnedest to work toward those goals.

But I'm also reserving the right to play the role of protective dad. Here's why:

1. It's not always about ownership.

I get where this concern comes from, I really do. In a world of purity balls and "virginity certificates," the dad-daughter relationship has definitely crossed the line from protective to creepy way too many times in our culture.

But personally, I can't relate to that notion at all right now. I'm still wiping poop off of my daughter's butt multiple times a day. Ownership over her sexuality isn't exactly at the top of my mind.

Wanting to protect doesn't have to be about control. It doesn't have to be about sex. For me, it's just about trying to make sure my daughter is safe, healthy, and happy.

And it turns out, there are plenty of good reasons for us to be as protective as we are.

2. Because the world is more dangerous for women than it is for men. That's a fact.

This is just the sad, awful truth.

About 1 in 5 women, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will experience rape or attempted rape in their lifetime, and 1 in 20 will face other kinds of sexual violence.

According to RAINN, almost half of those women will be under 18 when it happens.

And finally, 4 out of 5 assaults are committed by someone the victim knows.

When I see stats like these, I realize there's a pretty good chance that someone in my daughter's life will try to hurt her one day, probably while she's still living in our home. I'll probably have met this person. I'll probably have shook their hand.

That thought absolutely terrifies me.

Artist Mike Dawson has a simple approach when it comes to this stuff: "I don't make the rules. You don't make the rules. She makes the rules. Her body, her rules."

I love the sound of that. But a lot of men and boys out there aren't playing by the rules. And they're getting away with it.

That makes me mad. It makes me afraid. I feel like I have to do something about it.

The biggest part of that is raising her to be strong, to make good decisions, to be a good judge of character, and most importantly, to know that it's not her fault if someone crosses the line.

But it might also mean giving a firm handshake and a sideways glance to her dates. It might mean carrying a gruff standoffishness or a thick veil of skepticism.

OK, so I'm not going to be "polishing my shotgun" when her prom date shows up. But being kind of a jerk until that person earns my trust? Totally possible.

3. It's coming from a place of love.

Ultimately, what I'm saying is that us dads — all parents, really — are just out here doing our best.

Raising kids is hard. Good lord, is it ever hard. My wife and I are not sleeping well. We're usually covered in spit up, poop, pee, or all three. And we haven't even entered the wonderful world of bullies, behavior issues, puberty, and whatever else lies ahead.

Right now, it's really hard to think about the long term. Right now, we just want to do what we can to keep her safe.

Sometimes we'll probably do too much. Other times we might not do enough. But we've got to try.

I know there's a right and wrong way to be protective.

Not trusting or allowing our daughter to make her own decisions would be wrong. But not letting her walk home by herself at night, while it might feel unfair, might just be the kind of exception that makes a difference.

Threatening another person, even a smarmy teenage boy, with bodily harm, is never OK. But showing them that I'm involved in my daughter's life, actively concerned about her well-being, and making it clear that I'm not going to put up with her being mistreated? Absolutely.

I'm not saying I know exactly where that line is, but I'm going to try to figure it out.

In the meantime, I guess I can handle occasionally being hated by my daughter when she thinks I'm being an overbearing pain in the ass. But if anything ever happened to her because I trusted the world around her too much?

I'd never forgive myself.

Oh, and as for that boy in day care?

We're going to have to have a few words. You know, as soon as he learns to talk.

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Marine veteran Paul Coppola is a wonderful example of the transformational power of service dogs.

Ten years ago, he was rocked by two explosions in an attack that took the lives of 17 Marines in Afghanistan. The attack left Coppola with traumatic brain injury, PTSD, and an injured back.

Coppola didn't think his struggles warranted a service dog but after prodding from his wife, he was paired with Dobby, a four-year-old black Lab mix trained by veteran organization Operation Delta Dog.

Dobby and Paul soon became best friends and partners in life.

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via © Jakub Gojda/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021 and © Zoe Ross /Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

Two of the winners of the Comedy Pet Photo Awards.

A few weeks ago, Upworthy shared the hilarious winners of the 2021 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards and the winner was a well-timed shot of a monkey who appears to have hurt the family jewels on a suspension wire. (Don't worry folks, no monkeys were harmed for the awards.)

The awards were created six years ago by Tom Sullam and Paul Joynson-Hicks to promote positive awareness of animal welfare issues. The competition has been so successful, the duo decided to branch out and create the Comedy Pet Photo Awards, where photographers can submit pictures of their furry friends for a £2,000 ($2650) prize.

Donations generated by the competition go to Animal Support Angels, an animal welfare charity in the U.K.

This year's winner is Zoe Ross for "Whizz Pop," a photo of her labrador puppy Pepper who appears to be tooting bubbles.

“We never ever thought that we would win but entered the competition because we loved the idea of helping a charity just by sending in a funny photo of Pepper," Ross said in a statement. "She is such a little monkey, and very proud of herself, bringing in items from the garden and parading past you until you notice her. She is the happiest puppy we’ve ever known and completely loved to pieces.”

Here are the rest of the winners of the 2021 Comedy Pet Photo Awards.

Overall Winner: Zoe Ross "Whizz Pop," Penkridge, U.K.

© Zoe Ross /Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

Did this puppy swallow a bubble?

Best Dog Category: Carmen Cromer "Jurassic Bark," Pittsboro, North Carolina

© Carmen Cromer/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"My golden retriever, Clementine, loves to stick her face in front of the hose while I water the plants. Her expression in this photo made me think of a tyrannosaurus rex, hence the title, "Jurassic Bark." Duh nuh nuuuh nuhnuh, duh nuh nuuuh nuh nuh, dun duh duuuh nuh nuh nuh nUUUUUUhhhh." – Carmen Cromer

Best Cat Category: Kathrynn Trott "Photobomb," Ystradgynlais, U.K.

© Kathrynn Trott/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

Jeff stealing the limelight from his brother Jaffa.

Best Horse Category: Mary Ellis, "I Said 'Good Morning,'" Platte River State Park, Nebraska

© Mary Ellis/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"I like to visit the stable horses before I begin my hike at the State Park. This is the reply I received when I said 'Good morning.'" – Mary Ellis

All Other Creatures Category: Sophie Bonnefoi, "The Eureka Moment," Oxford, U.K.

© Sophie Bonnefoi/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"Cutie and Speedy are two chicks hatched from eggs placed in an incubator at home in August 2020. They spent their first few weeks indoors. In the photo, they are just over two weeks old. They were curious about everything. This is the day they discovered their own shadow. It was hilarious to see them wondering and exploring that 'dark thing' that was moving with them!" – Sophie Bonnefoi

Junior Category: Suzi Lonergan, "Sit!" Pacific Palisades, California

© Suzi Lonergan/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"Our granddaughter gave the command to sit. Beau is very obedient." – Suzi Lonergan

Pets Who Look Like Their Owners Category: Jakub Gojda, "That Was a Good One!" Czech Republic

© Jakub Gojda/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"This photo was taken by accident during the photography of my ex-girlfriend with her beloved mare. For this cheerful moment, I thank the fly that sat on the horse's nose and he instinctively shook his head." – Jakub Gojda.

Highly Commended: Chloe Beck, "Hugo the Photobomber," Walsall, U.K.

© Chloe Beck/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"This is my best friend Faith, her husband Alex, and their cheeky Sproodle, Hugo. Faith wanted a photograph to mark a special occasion—her first outing after shielding at home for 14 months. Hugo jumped into the frame at just the right moment!" – Chloe Beck

Highly Commended: Luke O'Brien, "Mumford and Chum," Coventry, U.K.

© Luke O'Brien/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"Losing the opportunity to play with my human bandmates during lockdown, Flint, my rescue dog, soon taught me that we didn't just have sharp bones in common, but musical ones, too. He soon became the perfect substitute for a collaborative stomp up at home, so much so that we felt we deserved our own band name (Muttford and Chum). With my camera set up remotely during this shoot, I think it's fair to say that the image is proof that his conviction as a performer matches my own." – Luke O'Brien.

Highly Commended: Kathryn Clark, "Wine Time," Cichester, U.K.

© Kathryn Clark/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"It's that time of day again! Little Blue enjoys it almost as much as me." – Kathryn Clark.

Highly Commended: Diana Jill Mehner, "Crazy in Love With Fall," Paderborn, Germany

© Diana Jill Mehner/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"This is Leia. As you can see, she definitely loves playing with all the leaves in autumn. It was really tricky to take this picture because you never know what the dog is going to do next." – Diana Jill Mehner.

Highly Commended: Christine Johnson, "Boing," Crosby Beach, U.K.

© Christine Johnson/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"I was busy playing with my dog on the beach and this dog came to play. I liked the shapes he was making in the air." – Christine Johnson

Highly Commended: Manel Subirats Ferrer, "Ostrich Style," Platja del Prat de Llobregat, Spain

© Manel Subirats Ferrer/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

Nuka playing hide and seek at the beach.

Highly Commended: Colin Doyle, "Nosey Neighbor," Bromsgrove, U.K.

© Colin Doyle/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"According to Ozzy, we need a new fence panel ASAP. He is fed up with Chester our nosy next door neighbor spying on him every time he has a meal." – Colin Doyle.

Highly Commended: Corey Seeman, "A Warm Spot on a Cold Day," Michigan

© Corey Seeman/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"Two of the morning regulars at the dog park are Gary (hound mix with the jacket) and Kona, one of the most chill dogs ever." – Corey Seeman.

Highly Commended: Lucy Slater, "So What?" San Diego, California

© Lucy Slater/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"This is how I like to sit!" – Vincent the cat

Highly Commended: Mollie Cheary, "Photobomb," Poole, U.K.

© Mollie Cheary/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"Bailey was so excited to see her friends, she couldn't sit still for a photo!" – Mollie Cheary

Peet Montzingo following his mom around with a trombone is delightful family entertainment.

Peet Montzingo and his mom have the most delightful relationship, as evidenced by their joint videos on Montzingo's social media platforms. And one viral video sums up the sort of fun Montzingo and his unique family engage in.

The video is a compilation of clips of Montzingo following his mom around with a trombone, making silly sound effects as she goes about doing chores and normal daily life things. It's simple and silly, which is what makes it so wholesome. People can't get enough of their gentle bantering.

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Dolly Parton was the picture of grace in her 1977 interview with Barbara Walters.

Dolly Parton is a beloved icon whose appeal somehow bridges a diverse audience. Even people who aren't big fans of her music admire her for her kindness, philanthropy and unflappability.

Barbara Walters is a now-retired broadcast journalist who gained international fame for her candid interviews with well-known figures. Though she was renowned for her interview techniques and willingness to ask tough questions, sometimes her questions could be somewhat tactless.

Put those two together 44 years ago and you get a shining example of Parton's grace and wit in the face of tasteless questions about her looks, her breasts and criticisms lobbed at her. Parton has always been who she is and portrayed the outward appearances she wants to portray, and she calmly and deftly navigates Walters' patronizing line of questioning with impressive poise.

Watch:

So much of Barbara Walters' commentary and questioning comes across as condescending and judgmental, but Dolly Parton transforms that negativity into a positive portrayal of who she is, where she's from and what she's all about.

When Walters told her she was beautiful and didn't need the wig and the make-up and the outrageous clothes, Parton told her it was a choice she's making. “I don’t like to be like everybody else," she said. “I would never stoop so low to be fashionable, that’s the easiest thing in the world to do.

"I'm very real as far as my outlook on life and the way I care about people and the way I care about myself and the things I care about. I just chose to do this, and show business is a money-making joke and I've just always liked telling jokes," she added.

Walters asked her if she ever feels that she is a joke, since people make fun of her.

“Oh I know they make fun of me, but all these years the people have thought the joke was on me, but it’s actually on them,” said Parton. “I am sure of myself as a person. I am sure of my talent. I’m sure of my love for life and that sort of thing. I am very content, I like the kind of person that I am. So, I can afford to piddle around and do-diddle around with makeup and clothes and stuff because I am secure with myself.”

The questions about Parton's breasts were particularly tacky, especially by today's standards. But Parton handled it all beautifully. Her responses are a masterclass in grace and her self-assurance is a refreshing model for us all—especially now that we can see how she has stayed true to herself all these years. Anyone who has ever wondered why Dolly Parton's appearance is what it is will learn a lot from this interview, and anyone who wants to learn how to maintain dignity and class in the face of inconsideration will learn a lot as well.