How to be a feminist father

by Marlies Dekkers

You probably know by now that I am a proud feminist. I believe in equal rights for men and women. But I also believe we’re in this together and that feminism could do with a few more male role models. Starting with fathers..

First of all, what is a typical feminist father? Well, he can be a devoted stay-at-home dad, but he might just as well be a CEO. As a matter of fact, my own CEO, Eppo van Berckelaer, proud father of three daughters, signs off all his e-mails with our company motto: ‘I am a feminist.’ It’s a bit like that super cool campaign of British political leaders and celebrities like Benedict Cumberbatch wearing shirts that say ‘This is what a feminist looks like.’ The message: anyone can be a feminist. Similarly, any father can be a feminist father, as long as he fights gender inequality in order to raise a fully realized human being.

Here are some tips for all the cool daddies out there. Try it! It’s worth it.

1. Ban double gender standards
Treat sons and daughters equally. It seems obvious, but even if you show your daughter she is just as strong and smart as any boy, there is still the temptation to be over-protective of her at times. Don’t fall for that. She has the right to make her own mistakes.

2. Share the power
Have a healthy, loving, equal relationship with your child’s mother. As a matter of fact, have healthy, loving relationships with all women out there! (okay, you know darn well what I mean). It’s the best message you can give your children.

3. Walk the talk
Be a good male role model. Not just in the privacy of your home, but also at work and in your social life. Remember when Jay-Z vowed to drop the word ‘bitch’ from his lyrics after the birth of daughter Blue Ivy Carter? Well unfortunately, that turned out to be an internet-hoax, but he could have scored big feminist points with that!

When I look at my own parents, I had a very traditional upbringing. My father worked, my mother stayed home and looked after three children. But my father believed in me, and made me feel I could do anything I put my mind to. At the end of the day, isn’t that the purest form of father-feminism? Happy Father’s Day!

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