What About Mothers of Boys?
On Mothers’ Day, I wrote that I believe the responsibility of raising boys to respect women is as important as raising girls to respect themselves. This Fathers’ Day, I’ve been thinking about fathers and daughters, and the responsibility fathers have to raise unapologetically ambitious, fearless girls.
Having a daughter has turned many a man into a feminist overnight. Sexism that seemed mild or irrelevant when practiced on a sister or wife is suddenly completely unacceptable for his little girl. Ask a man with a soccer-loving daughter how he feels about Title IX. Ask the father of a junior Marie Curie if he supports outreach programs to encourage more women in science.
In the main, there seems hardly anything to quibble with here, but Roberts, like a lot of feminists, left me with the feeling as if there was something to fix when it comes to the men of the world.
In other words, both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, Roberts seems to say, have to be turned into teachable moments for men who don’t do enough to respect women or encourage their daughters. Forgive me for a moment if that might seem more than a little bit sexist.
And as for her contention that having a little girl has turned plenty of fathers into supporters of Title IX, I’d like to introduce her to at least one mother who has come to the opposite conclusion about the law when it eliminated a chance for her son to compete. Pictured above are Linda Martin and her son Tom, then a student and a swimmer at James Madison University as they participated at a rally in front of the Department of Education back in November 2006. Thanks to Title IX and the proportionality standard that so many colleges and universities use to enforce it, a total of 10 athletic teams — 7 male and 3 female — were eliminated at JMU at the end of the 2006-07 academic year. Safe to say, Mrs. Martin feels a little differently about Title IX and its application to collegiate sports.
So, instead of using Father’s Day to fix what’s wrong with American Dads and the way they raise their daughters, I’d like to suggest that we take a moment to think a little harder about what’s best for all of our children, regardless of their gender.