I won't lie, it was hard to hear what the speaker was saying without feeling a bit defensive.
He began by citing statistics for children who are raised in homes without fathers and how they face higher rates of depression, drug use, incarceration, and academic failure.
Check, check, almost, and check.
He went on to say that adolescent females raised without fathers are more likely to fall into promiscuous lifestyles, and subsequent unplanned pregnancies.
Check, and check.
He was describing me.
A self-proclaimed feminist. A feminist who was raised by an amazing, strong, hard-working mother... but no matter how hard she tried, she could never be my father.
And this might not be anyone else's experience, but it is mine.
I'm strong like my mother. I'm opinionated, and stubborn. But there's a part of me - and there probably always will be - that's broken because I never knew my real dad.
My mother took me to see him just once, thinking it might cause him to change his mind. I was two weeks old. He commented on how long my eyelashes were, then he never laid eyes on me again.
I wasn't enough... or maybe he wasn't enough. I really don't know. But for years I tried to reach out to him; my letters and phone calls always going unanswered.
So I looked for validation in others. Mostly guys. I told myself that this behavior was empowering. They wanted me.... someone wanted me, at least for a little while... and that felt powerful.
I would leave them before they could leave me, because that's what badass chicks did. Then I'd bask in how liberated and cool I was.
"Look at me, I don't need them... maybe I'm more like my dad than I realized..."
But at the end of the day it was my lack of self-worth, not empowerment, that led to those actions. And before I knew it, I was repeating my mother's life. Pregnant, single... having to be even stronger now that someone else would be depending on me, like I depended on her. So much of our strength came from their weakness.
I am a man-made feminist. And I hate that.
I hate that my strength often feels inauthentic because would I even be who I am today if so many men along the way hadn't failed me?
Perhaps I'll never know. But I do think this is what makes my mission with New Wave Feminists a bit different. I know that bad guys exist, but I haven't lost faith in the good ones. I understand the power of fatherhood because I've experienced the pain of its absence.
I've often said that when women are better, men are better. That is why NWF will never be about trashing males. It'll never be about embracing the toxic elements of radical feminism that tell us we don't need them, or that our power comes through controlling men with our sexuality. Because I've lived both of those lies, and I know better.
Fathers are irreplaceable. Period. Full stop.
So to all the good guys, to all the men who are making this world and the women in it better through their love and support, Happy Father's Day.
What you are doing matters so much more than you know and the ripples of your impact on our lives will affect more generations than you will probably live to see.
As a side note, I found out two years ago that my biological father passed away. And while I'm sad that I never got to know him, he was the one who missed out. My children, his grandchildren, would've filled his life with so much joy.
So, if you're reading this and you have a son or daughter out there that you're afraid to reach out to because you're just not sure how they'll react, please don't let that fear stop you. I wish I could've told my father that. If you still have air in your lungs, it's not too late...
Post by Destiny