don’t exist in my home
loving and supporting fathers do.
impressed by independent mothers
proud of outspoken daughters
sometimes victim blaming
always happily bathing
in their pool of toxic masculinity
though loving femininity (for women)
not minding tears (for women)
accepting fears (for women)
therefore still patriarchal, still entitled and
still surprised and unable to believe their eyes
when their girls are being played
by boys like them
by manly men
they warned me and who
still turned out to be
bad for me.
you see, daddy,
I am strong and opinionated and smart
I’ll tell you when you’re being too hard
on women and queer siblings and boys.
but I have long accepted that you like hearing my voice
not necessarily my words.
it is nothing new
that my feminism doesn’t get through to you
just like my mother’s feminism never did
which is why even if you didn’t deserve it
she took you back
stopped being mad
concealed from you when she was sad.
and I did the same
I normalized this game
that I now play myself,
unconsciously using your rules and not mine.
if I can forgive my father,
accept that even though he failed me sometimes,
he loved me always,
I can also forgive another man who I hope will love me always.
there is a big culture clash
between my feminism and my father.
my loving, caring dad who will never see me less than a man
but who doesn’t fight for what i stand
and who doesn’t understand
that when I fail myself,
it is because I believe that the people who love you will fail you
and that love does not naturally depend on trust.
in my idealistic feminist world
I wish I was a different girl.
in a world nor black nor white
people make mistakes, especially fathers.
people change, just like my father,
but most don’t and so I learnt that
growing away from my father’s mistakes
and the people who have mistaken my father,
growing away from my mother’s mistakes
and the people who have mistaken my mother,
growing my own boundaries and values
growing my own feminism
nurturing the seeds my parents gave me
and starving the nubs that none of us wanted.
letting go of the belief
that the way I view love and men
will always be negatively influenced
by the love I have for my father, my uncles and my cousins.
letting go of the belief
that the way I allow people to love me
will not agree
with the way I want us to love me.
using daddy’s lesson
to protect myself
from those who feel familiar
but will bring nothing new to the family.
because even though we’re not all feminists
we all agree
that in order to achieve real equality
it takes a different kind of love,
one we are yet to see
one I am yet to meet.
Words by Amuna Wagner