#GirlDads Are Fucking Up
Let’s talk about #girldads. Yes that super cute hashtag we see on Instagram and Facebook, alerting the world that you’re the proud daddy of a beautiful little girl.
But more specifically, let’s talk about men who harass, belittle, shame, disrespect and otherwise show the highest possible contempt for women, while simultaneously presenting a social media picture of loving adoration for the women and girls in their own lives.
This is Julia, and this is what Julia was wearing while a man took a non-consensual photo of her body parts.
*this is a screenshot from a much longer video, not the actual portion that shows the picture taking.
Initially, my reaction was “It’s not about what she’s wearing!” when the comments began flooding in that she was “asking for it.” Over the next several days, which included 3,000+ comments and 35,000 shares – it became very clear it WAS about what she was wearing, but in a different way. Julia is 90% clothed, wearing workout pants and a loose fit crop sweatshirt. The only visible skin is a small sliver above her navel.
And yet despite this, she was called a whore. A bitch. A slut. A clout chasing influencer who probably had a friend fake that he was taking pictures of her for internet attention. She was informed that she got what she deserved. A comment on TikTok informed her she should have been raped in the parking lot. That they wished she had been, because she needed to be taught a lesson about tempting men … and then finally mocked her for being a “feminist crybaby.”
But the most strikingly disconnected comments came from the #girldads. Let’s call them John, Kyle and Marcus.
John dropped by to post a screenshot of an unrelated Instagram post, which was a picture of a different woman’s mostly uncovered backside. *do take notice that he “liked” this photo screenshot he shared, that little red heart says he enjoys viewing this content from women, but also enjoys shaming the women who make the content he likes.
When asked what his point was, he responded, “Keep selling your body on Only Fans.” Julia doesn’t have an Only Fans account – but even if she did, the refusal to acknowledge lack of consent should be a giant red flag. Another woman pointed out that John has a daughter, referenced in both his profile pic and his Facebook bio, and asked him to consider how he would feel if his daughter was treated this way.
“She won’t be idiot and will respect her body and not dress like h0”
John knows that Julia was not “dressed like a ho.” In fact she was wearing MORE clothing than most people do, men or women, at the gym. John took this opportunity to post his hate for women because he saw women being hated on. And there’s nothing particularly complex about it. Amazingly his bio also included a shoutout to God, but that will be a post for another day.
Kyle was one of many, many men (and women) who’s only contribution was to call women “sensitive.”
Kyle has at least 100 public photos of his daughter littering his public Facebook page, these pictures and sweet captions adorably describing his lovely little girl, his baby, his angel, his world. Yet somehow, Kyle does not understand that one day his sweet little baby is going to grow up into a teen and then an adult woman – and much like Julia at the gym, may be the focus of unwanted male attention and sexual harassment, or worse.
According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), which is the United States largest anti-sexual violence organization, on average there are 433,648 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year in the United States. And one out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. A recent UK study found that 97 percent of women aged 18 to 24 have experienced sexual harassment in public spaces.
For many girls and women it’s not a matter of “if,” it’s a matter of “when” and “how badly.” As fathers of young daughters, it is baffling men like Kyle treat women with such disrespect – these are the women who are actively trying to change the landscape for THEIR daughters. The women who are demanding Kyle’s daughter be treated with dignity and respect are quite literally the same women Kyle is degrading, belittling and mocking.
Kyle became quite angry a public photo of his daughter was screenshot and shared deep within the comments section of a viral Facebook post.
In a series of angry messages, Kyle threatened my business, told me I had made his daughter a “target for all the pedos on your page” and called me a hypocrite (the notion that “pedos” are sitting around sifting through 3,000 comments on an adult fitness page, waiting for the author to share a random *public* cover shot of someone’s kid while that same kid is uploaded 100+ times on their parent’s page is so ludicrous it doesn’t deserve additional commentary).
Kyle believes his daughter is exempt from the 97 percent. When presented with the sobering statistics shared above, his only response is “She won’t.” Because he thinks his daughter is “not like those other girls,” and she won’t be a “ho who disrespects her body,” as John informed us. Kyle believes men will treat HIS daughter with respect, always – even though Kyle demonstrated the kind of shining example of a man who would one day likely harass his own child.
Horribly, Kyle’s child is likely not exempt. She is likely to face harassment – sooner, rather than later, as ages 12-34 are the highest risk years for rape and sexual assault. But she won’t tell her father about it. She knows Kyle thinks women who complain about male inappropriate behavior are “weak and pathetic,” to quote her father directly. If she gets her breasts grabbed in high school, if someone smacks her ass at the gym, if a man cat calls and screams at her from a moving vehicle, he will never know. Kyle will go on believing his precious angel does not face any of the same gender-based struggles so many women do, simply because she will not feel comfortable sharing her deepest and most traumatizing experiences with him.
And that is the real tragedy.
Marcus emerged the winner for the most violent and abhorrent thoughts of the #girldads. Marcus ranted that women need to buy guns and knives to protect themselves, declaring that “men will always be men.” He also noted that “even if you have to catch a few bodies and go 2jail to prove yall not gonna be fucked with than so be it.” Marcus believes women should simply murder or assault men, and by doing so we would prove we deserve respect.
A woman responded to his comments and made a valiant attempt to ask Marcus to help women by holding his fellow men accountable for their actions. She used a basic example of cat calling to suggest the next time he sees a woman getting harassed, to step in, speak up, and be a part of the change.
This #girldad who has his daughter and partner’s picture displayed prominently as his Facebook cover photo, instantly mocked her comments, called her a “pussy,” and laughed at the suggestion that men should be stopped from cat calling women. *note: @catcallsofnyc is a powerful account on Instagram that documents this specific form of sexual harassment and the traumatizing effects it can have on women.
A similar theme had emerged throughout the comments by an incredible number of men – and that is that they too, are afraid of other men. Marcus described intervening as as “risking his life” if he saw a woman being street harassed, and felt comfortable admitting he would intentionally refuse to help her.
It frustrating that we are spending our days countering #notallmen bullshit, listening to supposed male allies drone on about how women have nothing to be afraid of, that we exaggerate, we lie, we make things up for attention. Yet when asked to intervene, the men exclaim, “Fuck no, I’m not risking my life for you!” If men are not dangerous and nothing to be afraid of, why are other men so scared to speak up?
Other men on my post self-described themselves as “animals,” “barbarians,” and one went so far as to describe a gym with male members as “enemy territory,” asking what Julia expected when entering their space.
The cycle of abusive treatment for women is on a perpetual loop with no end in sight, and the #girldads who dote on their beautiful daughters while publicly harassing, shaming, and disrespecting women are in for a rude awakening.
Rather than attack those of us trying to make the world a better place for their daughters, it’s time they joined the fight – starting with themselves.
Jessica Fithen (@filthy_fithen) is a competitor in the sport of Strongman and creator of You Look Like A Man.