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The Good, The Bad, The Legacy: Feminism and Father’s Day

June 19, 2016

By LySaundra Campbell, Development & Communications Intern, National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV)


This Sunday, June 19th, we celebrate Father’s Day. Much like Mother’s Day, this day of observation can stir up emotions ranging from joy to anger to celebration to sorrow.

For me, Father’s Day is a time of remembrance. My dad passed away when I was 12 years old, so the past fourteen Father’s Days have been rather difficult. However, I still have memories, and through memories I have gratitude. My gratitude is that, though imperfectly, my dad was the one who first shaped my views of feminism.

I grew up with an older brother and an “Annie Get Your Gun” complex – anything he could do, I could do better. My mother, being faint of heart and having traditional views of girlhood vs. boyhood, often discouraged any rough playing on my end. My dad, however, pushed me to be well-rounded. I wasn’t confined only to playing with dolls, dressing up, and baking cookies, but tried my hand at climbing trees, playing baseball, and the occasional spitting contest! My dad also put a major emphasis on education, and breaking glass ceilings for both race and gender. As a kid, my dad never placed me in a pink box with all things “sugar and spice, and everything nice.” My earliest memories are being defined as a human, not a stereotype. I was free to wear a dress. Free to play football. And free to spend hours at the library, soaking up all the free knowledge my heart desired. I was taught that I could be more than just pretty, but also strong and intelligent.

My anger turned into a passion to change the culture and its perpetuation of sexism.

Of course, no one has perfect parents. Throughout my childhood, my dad also came to influence my feminism through his shortcomings. Anyone who regularly speaks out about domestic violence is often asked what got them in the movement. In addition to being raised without strict gender stereotypes, my involvement also came from my dad and the abuse I witnessed towards my mom as a child. I spent much of my teen years angry, and found refuge through education about intimate partner violence and my involvement with a campus organization during my second year of college. My anger turned into a passion to change the culture and its perpetuation of sexism.

Someone once said that our deepest ministry or passion will come out of our deepest hurt or pain. I was taught at an early age not to be confined by stereotypes, and as a teenager fought to overcome the ones that are placed on children who witness violence in the home. It seems ironic, but what has by far been my greatest hurt, is also my daily motivation. People, even your closest family members, will simultaneously amaze and fail you.

Infographic_Fathers-Day-2016_MyDad1Word-InspirationalAs I think about NNEDV’s challenge to describe dads in one word, so many come to mind! Whether I reminisce about tree climbing competitions, and subsequent falls, or witnessing the pain of my mother, I’m able to remember the good, the bad, and the legacy that has come from my dad unexpectedly shaping my feminism and motivating me to help create a world that is free from domestic violence – this Father’s Day and the many more to come.

#MyDad1Word – Inspirational