Here’s the message I’ve been sent since I was a child, and I don’t think it’s specific to me: “You are less of a person because you don’t have the daddy-daughter bond. You are less of a person for something you have no control over. You are not worth as much. You are inferior. You are less than.” I actually used to believe that, too. They throw statistics at you all the time, and it’s hard not to assimilate the idea that you’re messed up because you didn’t have a daddy. You never stop to think that actually, it could just be you’re messed up because people are telling you you’re messed because you didn’t have a daddy. You actually can have only one parent and still be fine, funnily enough, as long as you don’t have people insisting the opposite or you’re smart enough not to believe them. It’s a rare person who’s that smart when they’re nine.
I figured it out eventually. Looked at my life one day and realized that, hey, incredibly, I was okay. I lived in an all-female household, and we were all okay. We did basic household fix-it jobs (painting, plumbing, putting up the Christmas tree, etc.), we made it through, we were happy overall, and we didn’t need any men to do it. I’d always been told that I needed a man to take care of me, and suddenly I realized that, actually, I didn’t. I’d been taking care of myself for years, and my entire life I’d been taken care of by women. And I was fine. I am fine. My entire life is one big argument against the idea that every woman needs a man in her life. You know what I found out after I realized that? To society, realizing that isn’t okay. After I started telling people about my epiphany, I was warned that I needed to rid myself of that notion at once because no man would ever want a girl who didn’t think she needed him.
I used to be pitied and patronized because the man in my life left me. Now I’m condemned because my very existence proves the societal myth of female dependency is a lie. Apparently, if you don’t have a dad, you aren’t allowed to be happy. You aren’t allowed to be okay. Your fate rests in the hands of that man, and if he doesn’t choose you, you can’t win. Ever. Maybe one day, if you somehow, incredibly, manage to stumble upon and/or seduce some other man who, against all logic, actually wants and chooses you, but even then there will be whispers of “daddy issues” or “problems submitting”. Your dad sets the tone for your entire life, and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.
That’s dumb. Even the women in my life have perpetuated this idea, and it’s not true. My mom says that maybe I’m right, but “I have to accept the reality of the world.” I have to accept the reality of a society that won’t accept me because my dad couldn’t be bothered to know me, and yet I refused to let his selfishness break me. I’m too scary to fit in, and that’s “just the way the world is”.
You know what? I’m not going to keep apologizing because my sense of self doesn’t conform to societies expectations for me. “That’s the way the world is” is the argument that sustained slavery, and it’s just as unsound in this case. Perpetuation of oppression does not validate it. You’ll never get me to pretend that it does.
You know what else? If –– whether because of social constructs or your own insecurities –– you need me to downplay my own strengths to make you feel better about yourself, you don’t deserve my respect. Especially if you feel it is my duty to do this simply because you happened to be born with a penis and Y chromosome and I did not.
Also, men don’t get to claim “respect” as their gender-specific desire, any more than women get to claim “love”. I am a woman, and I also desire respect. That’s really the issue. I’m being told I have to choose one or the other (and to a lot of people, by not valuing love above everything, as my gender supposedly dictates I should, I’m essentially choosing neither). I want both. Everyone wants both. I don’t think anyone, male or female, would say, “I hope to die unloved but respected,” any more than anyone would say, “I want to be a person everyone loves and nobody respects.” They’re both important. We all want both, whether we pee standing up or have menstrual cycles (or both). Honestly, I fail to see how sexual organs and hormone levels would have any impact on these basic human desires.
Contrary to how I’m sure it appears, I don’t actually hate men. I really, really don’t. I’m just sick of being told that I’m wrong. Not that I’m wrong about this issue, but that my very essence, my awareness of who I am as an individual is wrong. And yeah, men get the greater part of my ire here because apparently they’re the ones who are too insecure to handle the existence of girls like me. But that’s their problem. Why should I suffer for their insecurities? You know what the whole issue stems from? It’s insecure men trying to make women insecure so they can feel better about themselves. Well I’m not playing, and threatening me with a lack of romance isn’t going to get me to do so. If that’s what romance costs, it comes at far too high a price, and honestly, why would I want it? Why would I give up my independence and individuality to become a kowtowing bimbo for some chauvinistic asshole? That sort of romance sounds like it sucks. It definitely doesn’t sound like love.
My existence is not wrong. I don’t need a man to take care of me. My father’s inadequacies don’t get to define me, and neither do the insecurities of other men. And society may condemn me for that, but it will never be able to convince me otherwise.