In the ongoing fight for gender equality and women's rights, one recurring but frustrating phenomenon is when men refer to the fact that they have daughters as a means of adding credibility to their support. While any form of support for these causes is undoubtedly valuable, the practice of using personal relationships as a badge of honour to validate support can be both counterproductive and infuriating. This article delves into why it's problematic to use the "I have daughters" argument to back women's rights and why it is rarely seen as a credible justification.
For a recent example of this, I refer to Luis Rubiales (former Spanish FA President & UEFA Vice-President), Piers Morgan (TalkTV) and Simon Jordan (talkSPORT) all highlighting the fact that they have daughters when discussing their opinions on the Rubiales kiss. It was as though the viewers should automatically assume that they have women's best interests at heart, all because they have daughters.
The Problem with the "I Have Daughters" Argument
While it may seem innocent at first glance, referencing one's daughter as a way of showing support for women's sport and gender equality can inadvertently undermine the very cause it aims to champion. The "I have daughters" argument is problematic for several reasons:
Tokenism and Selective Empathy
When men use their daughters as a rationale for supporting women's rights and women's sport, it reduces these vital issues to mere tokens of personal connection. It implies that empathy and support are contingent on having female family members, disregarding the fact that these issues affect all women, regardless of familial ties.
Stereotyping and Gender Roles
This argument unintentionally reinforces gender stereotypes by implying that men can only relate to or empathise with women's issues through their roles as fathers or as protectors of their daughters. It overlooks the broader spectrum of human empathy and understanding.
It's worth noting that nobody claims, "I have two sons, and therefore I care about men's rights." This discrepancy reveals an inherent bias in societal thinking, where interests and passions where men are concerned, are considered valid in their own right without the need for personal connections or validation.
Overemphasis on Personal Stories
While personal anecdotes can be powerful tools for advocacy, they should not be the primary basis for supporting important social issues. The emphasis should be on the merits, justice, and fairness of the cause itself, not on personal relationships.
In the fight for gender equality and women's rights, we must recognise that support should not be contingent on personal relationships. While having daughters can indeed lead to a greater awareness of these issues, it should not be the sole or primary justification for support.
By moving beyond token gestures and shifting the focus to the principles of justice, fairness, and human rights, we can work together to create a more equitable world for all, regardless of gender or familial connections. The "I have daughters" argument, well-intentioned or not, ultimately detracts from the importance and urgency of the broader struggle for gender equality.
To be effective advocates and allies, we must move beyond token gestures and instead champion meaningful change. This means acknowledging that women's issues are everyone's issues and that our support should be rooted in principles of justice, fairness, and human rights, not personal relationships. Only then can we work together to create a more inclusive and equitable world for all, regardless of gender or familial connections.