The #metoo and #timesup movements in Hollywood are presently shedding light on workplace harassment. However, women and girls are most typically introduced to the world of harassment by men, right around the time they get boobs, if not before.
However, bullying of females by males in both childhood and adulthood has more to do with violence and control than sex and beauty. Even our fathers and our friend’s fathers are guilty of objectifying us or talking down to us, yet fathers are rarely held accountable for this behavior because they are so sanctimonious, so gilded in impunity. And I have no choice but to dedicate this blog post to the things that fathers do or don’t say to, or about, their daughters, that objectify, degrade, and belittle them.
An example of a celebrity father who said things he shouldn’t have to his very young and impressionable daughter would be Alec Baldwin. In 2007 he famously called his then 11-year-old daughter Ireland Baldwin a ‘rude, thoughtless, little pig’ in a voicemail. Here’s the transcript which is still available on here.
Once again, I have made an ass of myself trying to get to a phone. You have made an ass out me of for the last time. Three letters: ABA. A, Always, B, Be, A, Answering. Always be answering. Still, be answering. AIDA. Attention. Interest. Decision. Action. Attention. Do I have your attention? Interest. Are you interested? I know you are ’cause it’s pick up the phone or get your ass straightened out. You answer or you get hit with a brick. Decision. Have you made your decision to pick up the phone? And action. AIDA. Pick up the goddamn phone. You got a call coming in, you think I made it because I’ve got nothing better to do? I could be shouting shit at random people on the street, but I’m calling you. I don’t care that you’re twelve or eleven or whatever, are you pig enough to pick it up? I’m a good father, and you’re a pig. I don’t give a shit. Good father. You think this is abuse? You think this is abuse, you thoughtless pain in the ass? AIDA. Get mad you daughter-of-a-bitch. Get mad. You know what it takes to answer my call? It takes brass balls to answer my call. Go and do likewise. The phone is ringing, you pick it up, it’s yours, you don’t, I got no sympathy for you. I’d wish you good luck, but you wouldn’t know what to do with it if you got it. You better be ready Friday the 20th to meet with me. Pig. Oh, also, tell your mother I said: “Go fuck yourself.” This is Dad, ring me back when you get a chance.
Alec Baldwin has since apologized for the voicemail many times over, and his daughter, downplayed the incident in an interview, and she and her father have an amiable, but a somewhat tarnished relationship.
Some fathers presume to comment on their daughters looks or make them the butt of a joke or undermine their intelligence, or perhaps they allow someone else to. The #metoo and #timesup movements continue to reveal the real world of females. A world that is often depicted or portrayed in a way that is cliché or humorous. But our lives are not television sitcoms.
I remember an encounter that took place when I was in junior high school, between my friend’s father, my father, my little brother, and myself. Except I wasn’t a part of the conversation, I was merely the topic and the discussion focused on my looks most notably my resemblance to a “dog” and a large zit on my chin that looked like my brother had “punched me in the face.”
It was a defining and revealing event in my life, small but mighty. It’s sneaky little comments like this, conversations that take place out of the earshot of wives and mothers that reveal the true nature of not all, but most, fathers.
The things Alec Baldwin said to his daughter come from a place of anger at his estranged wife (whom his daughter closely resembles) and desperation for acknowledgment as a parent. Some fathers, like Donald Trump, spew caustic venom with effects less evident than those who would lash out at their daughter in anger. They speak to or about women and girls including their daughters, in ways that are disguised as playful or humorous but are quite damaging.
At the root of all of the things that men do to hurt women, whether physically or emotionally is misogyny. Pure, simple, classic, tired, dusty, old, misogyny. That shit is rampant. It’s infectious; it sneaks its way into almost every relationship a female ever has with a man.
Even good men, good fathers are guilty of perpetuating impossible standards by which their princesses are supposed to judge a potential mate. Because when she gets married, he’ll have to give her away to this guy, transfer his ownership, relinquish his control over his girl.
If it seems like I have a paternal ax to grind, I do. If this post happens to offend your fragile male ego, good, I’m not going to offer you any reassurance. If the shoe fits, I want you to wear it.
I commend fathers who respect their daughters and treat them well and don’t call them names or bully them whenever they feel threatened. I appreciate men who do as much for any and all women and girls. It’s unfortunate that you men are the exception and not the rule.
The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says: “It’s a girl.”
― Shirley Chisholm