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To Be a Daughter's Daddy

I got in a heated little discussion last night with my girlfriend, Monica. She also happens to be my ex-wife, and the mother to our three young kids — ages 6, 4, and 1. So it wasn't the first argument we've ever had, I can tell you that much.

But so much changes as you get older. As least it has for me. And these days I find myself carefully choosing my words before I disagree or throw my ridiculous two-cent opinions around without pondering what I'm actually saying.

Last night was different.

We'd been discussing female comics, people like Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, and although I think they're funny and all, I don't think they are quite as funny or badass as so many people make them out to be. I started comparing them to other comics as a way to strengthen my argument, which, in my mind was purely pop culture-based.

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It didn't take long for Monica's jaw to fall. Right away she called me out on the fact that everything I was saying, like my insistence that if Amy or Tina were men they'd be the comic equivalent Seth Meyers as opposed to the groundbreaking female comedians she insists they are, was sounding very, very sexist. She accused me of subconsciously downplaying their accomplishments because they're women in a field dominated by men (still!), as opposed to recognizing what they've done in spite of that.

I argued back even more vehemently then. How dare she insinuate that I am even remotely sexist?!

"I am the least sexist man in the world!" I spat. "I have a six-year-old daughter in the other room over there and I want the world for her!"

But I've got to tell you something. The more I mouthed off and the more I tried to come to terms with my so-called points in our silly little comedy discussion, the more sick I began to feel inside. I mean, Monica is really intelligent and really aware. AND, she's a woman. And here she was telling me that, from her own vantage — that of a single mom/career woman/fierce advocate of equality rights for everyone, everywhere — I was sounding like a sexist asshole.

Then I asked her, point blank, if she really though that women hadn't made massive in-roads in the last 20 years, and whether they weren't much more equal to men in the workforce and in society in general than they used to be?

Dude.

She laid into me good. She opened up a can of whoop-ass wisdom that spun me around and dropped me within seconds.

Yeah, we've made inroads, she told me. But women are still treated like they're second-best in a world where men still dominate and discriminate and de-elevate nearly every single grand accomplishment that females make.

I've always considered myself a smart man. I really have. I'd say to you with a completely straight face that I am a man who supports equal rights for gays and lesbians and minorities and women, too. But Monica's words came crashing down on me like some collapsing building in the street. I was buried under this rubble of my own confusion.

Have I been blind for so long?

Even as a father to a little girl — my first child, a kid I would do anything for, anytime, anywhere, no matter what it might be — was I someone who didn't truly understand that women in 2015 are still very much fighting a serious fight to be treated as equal to the men who have been dominating (and screwing up) governments and societies and schools and pretty much everything else in this messed-up world?

The whole car-crash discussion ended in maybe 15 minutes. Then like a child who'd just been taken to school on a thing or two, I crashed on the couch, my feelings all hurt by the things this woman I care an awful lot about had just pointed out to me.

I'm writing this all today just to let my Violet know that I'm on it. I'm back on the trail, kid. I won't fail you, I swear to friggin' God.

I didn't sleep though. I laid there thinking about what had just went down. For hours, I stared at the ceiling and thought about this horrific notion pinging around back behind my face. See, even though I'm a pretty progressive dude in a land where backwards thinking and sexism still run rampant, I had to wonder whether I hadn't overestimated just how much I actually knew in regards to what girls and women have to go through on a daily basis in America, and pretty much everywhere else in this world, in the 21st century.

Today, I'm still reeling from it all. I don't even know what the hell happened, to be honest. What started out as me trying to be cool and edgier than Monica, by saying that I wasn't as into certain mega-popular female comics as she and everybody else was, it ended up being this eye-opening, nauseating discovery for me.

And I need to own that here today, for my daughter. For the world. For you too, just in case you think you're one of those guys who really gets it when it comes to what girls and women have to battle against every damn day of their lives.

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I guess what I'm hoping to say here is that we're never as far along as we need to be when it comes to equality. I guess I got lazy when it comes to that. I simply thought that men had come a lot further than we actually have. Just by me even thinking that things were on much more even ground these days, that shows how ignorant I'd become. It isn't easy for me to admit that either, believe me. I want the world for my little girl.

But the only way I'm ever going to help her grab it and make it happen is by realizing what Monica helped me realize last night, man.

Listen, I don't know shit about how hard it is to be a girl. I don't know shit about how hard it is to be a woman in a male-dominated workplace.

And I don't know shot about how much American society still looks at women as undeserving of the kind of treatment it reserves for all the dude CEOs and linebackers and rappers and rock stars and school teachers and doctors and bus drivers and chefs and whatever else you can think of.

I've been on the right path, but I stopped along the way, I guess. I pitched my tent, made my little camp fire and got comfortable just sitting there in one place along the trail that never ends.

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Because this trail to equality starts with men exactly like me. It starts with dads who love their daughters boundlessly, but still don't fully understand what those little girls are up against.

I'm writing this all today just to let my Violet know that I'm on it. I'm back on the trail, kid. I won't fail you, I swear to friggin' God. Because I am a man with a voice and even though I haven't been using it all that much lately, I'm going to start hollering up a storm, baby.

I'm gonna make sure that I play whatever part I can in simply admitting that I had no idea. And make sure that I'm never that foolish or lazy or blind ever again until the damn day I die.

I promise.

#LeanInTogether

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