I was thinking about this topic before but with my daughter here now I feel it’s even more pertinent. This phrase and the culture that seems to excuse and justify male actions by shaming females or blaming the victims has got me worried.

One of my favorite things to do on a fall Saturday is watch college football. It’s something I’ve done for a long time. But I have been getting more and more bothered and worried by the amount of rape and assault cases coming out of college campuses and the amount that seems to be perpetrated and frequently covered up by athletes and athletic departments. If I were a father of a teenage daughter right now I would be very much looking into a school’s track record in this area and frankly terrified of even sending my daughter off to college with how prevalent it seems across the country.

It also shocks me how many people are ok with keeping it quiet and saying “well she shouldn’t have been there” or “she was asking for it” and basically giving these men who committed terrible, violent crimes a pass perhaps because they “have a bright future” and “they shouldn’t be defined by this one mistake”. The women who are violated or assaulted never get to forget that “mistake” and their future is forever altered. This cannot be justified!

I know that I can’t and won’t speak for what this really means and feels like from a female perspective, but thinking about something like this happening to my daughter from a father’s perspective makes me boil with anger and fear. As a dad it’s my job to protect my little girl until she’s old enough to look out for herself…and even then I’ll still want to protect her! So thinking and fretting about something like this happening I fear will be a constant and prevalent worry on my mind.

That’s not to say I can’t do anything though…first I feel it’s my job to instill confidence and self-worth in my daughter from a young age. I hope to encourage her to define herself by who she is and what she enjoys and can do, rather than letting herself be defined or dictated by men. I want to encourage her that when she starts to date that she look for a partner, not a knight or a hero, someone who will love her and serve her and fight for her. Only her and God decide what her strengths and limits are.

It’s also my duty to make sure my son understands this as well.  I want him to be respectful and courteous to women and to see women as partners and equals rather than subordinates.  I don’t want him to blame his shortfalls or mistakes on a woman’s dress or actions.  As a man, I know what goes through a dude’s head…I know how hard it is to keep thoughts and eyes pure; I struggle with it every day.  Don’t blame someone else for a mistake you make son…you control where your eyes linger, you control what thoughts enter your brain.  Women are not objects here to entertain men; they are not asking to be stared or gawked or whistled at.

As with most everything that I’ve written about this comes back to me and my actions.  I need to model this in my own life with my wife and the women in my world.  I need to show both my son and my daughter how I feel a husband should treat his wife.  I need to show them both how to encourage, empower and serve rather than demean, belittle and dominate.  I need to talk with them…frequently…answer their questions honestly, and be extra prepared for “the talk” when the time comes.

This is a crazy, messed up, broken world…and I’m going to be sending my children out into it.  God grant me strength, wisdom and the ability to calm my fears and worries because I’m seeing more and more that they aren’t unfounded.

This is fatherhood…