My daughter is a beautiful, glorious, shimmering six-year old natural wonder. She’s stronger and sillier and more compassionate than most adults I know, and somehow I’ve won the cosmic lottery to get to be called “Daddy” by her. It’s a gift I’d never have been able to deserve and one I’ll never repay. It’s the greatest joy of my life.
This morning I came down the stairs and saw her curled up in a blanket on the couch, her hair wild and unruly from a night of deep, joyful, dream-filled six-year old sleep. She turned, and as she saw me she gave me a little, squint-eyed smile and I returned it.
I thought about Donald Trump’s disgusting boasts; those hateful, violent, vicious words about women.
I thought about the other men who justify them.
I thought about the women who excuse them.
I thought about the evangelists suddenly having moral amnesia and defending them.
I thought about the politicians who are enabling them.
I thought about Twitter bullies amplifying them.
I thought about my family members and neighbors and friends who are co-signing them with their votes and their dollars.
And I realized that all these people are not with my daughter.
Donald Trump is not with her.
The Christian Right is not with her.
The GOP is not with her.
The ol’ boy’s club is not with her.
The patriarchal system is not with her.
Those who minimize and explain away misogyny and sexism and vile “locker room banter” aren’t with her.
Those who would control her body are not with her.
Those who would make sexual assault a pre-existing condition are not with her.
But I am with her.
I treasure her life in all its delicate, original, wonderful glory, and I will not allow her to be treated as less-than, to be seen as an object, to be told that she is expendable. I will not let her grow-up in country that determines her worth for her based on her physicality or her adherence to some narrow definition of what a woman is. I will not her be spoken of with disdain or contempt, especially not by her President.
And because I am with her, I will brave every social media attack, every awkward family dinner conversation, and every cold stare from neighbors—because she is worth that. She is worth every lost Twitter follower, every dollar of withdrawn support, every accusation of being “too political”. They are all sustainable losses I gladly shoulder.
Because at the end of this life, I am not responsible to politicians or readers or friends or acquaintances or distant family members. I am responsible to that blanket-wrapped, wild-haired, squint-eyed, buoyant, beautiful, sparkling little girl on our couch who calls me “Daddy”; the one who runs to me when the storm comes and explodes into my arms at the bus stop and lays her head down on my chest when she gets overwhelmed with the things that overwhelm six-year olds.
Because I am with her, I will never allow those who are not, to be louder in this world than I am. That’s what good Daddies do. They scare away the monsters who try to take away deep, joyful, dream-filled sleep from little girls. I will defend those dreams with everything I have.
But just because she is my daughter doesn’t mean she is any more deserving of dignity and respect and protection than any other little girl in any other blanket on any other couch. They all are, and so even though I am Daddy to only one of them, I speak for all of them. I say the things I wish more mommies and daddies were saying right now, what I wish more Christians were saying right now.
My daughter won’t be six forever, but when she’s nine and seventeen and thirty-four and fifty-two, I want her to know that she is worth standing up for, that she is not less-than, that she is a natural wonder who blessed my life with her presence. I want her to have a life that is as boundless as she is now.
And I hope she’ll know without any doubt, that I love her, that I am for her—that I am with her.