For my father

My dad always told me his first fatherly impulse was to nibble a small chunk out of my earlobe so that the nurses in the hospital wouldn’t confuse me with any of the other babies. Now that’s love.

Since the day I came kicking and screaming into this world, red-headed and pink, my dad has been one of my greatest allies, and one of my dearest friends.

Many of my earliest memories include my father. I remember sitting on his lap and attempting to keep our green-blue Chevy on the road as he worked the foot pedals. I remember attacking him with karate chops during the epic taekwondo battles we had in our living room, or sometimes in the kitchen. I will never forget the day we tucked Cheetos under the lettuce of my mother’s ham sandwich. We made such a devious team.

When I was very little, my dad took me out to Arizona’s open fields and taught me how to shoot a bow and arrow; a few years later he took me to the same fields and taught me how to shoot a gun. He insisted that I know how to build a fire, and he bought me my first carving knives. We went fishing often when I was a girl, and on my 15th (maybe 14th?) birthday, my dad took me out to the driveway and presented me with my very own two-person kayak.

About half way through my high school years, I joined a band  called the Crisis No. 1. My father, who is also a musician, made sure I had a mic stand and a microphone to sing into at every show. When our band performed at our senior prom, my dad filmed every minute of our set, and now, his recordings are some of the only video footage we have to commemorate the Crisis and the years we spent playing together.

My dad never told me I couldn’t do something because I was a girl. He never shot down any dream or ambition, and he always let me talk to him about anything and everything. As I grew from a little girl into a young woman, my relationship with my father became even stronger. Sometimes, I felt more comfortable talking to my dad than I did talking to my mom. Other times, I felt perfectly content to not talk at all, and my dad and I would simply enjoy the silence. Now, after 19 years, my dad continues to be one of my biggest fans, and I know that he will support me in every endeavor and help me overcome any obstacle. His love for me is unconditional and his faith in me is unwavering.

In case I haven’t made it clear by now, my father is the best dad any girl could ask for. So today, I’m blogging not only about my father but because of my father. 

Blog for International Women’s Day:

How can we, as a culture and as members of the global community, involve, educate, and inspire girls in a positive way?
Describe a particular organization, person, group or moment in history that helped to inspire a positive future and impact the minds and aspirations for girls.

As members of a global community, we must strive to embrace girls and their dreams, just as my father did. We must never deny their ambitions, and we must always hold them to high standards. When my bubbly, curly-haired cousin was 5, I asked her what she wanted to do when she grew up. “I’m going to have a lemonade stand!” she squealed. Some may have responded, “That’s not a real job!” But I said, “Madison, then you will be the best lemonade stand owner in all of history.” We can’t shoot down our girls’ dreams, even if they start out small. In order to empower women, we need to raise empowered girls.

This may seem obvious, but too often I hear of people, and not just girls, whose goals were shut down by parents, mentors, teachers, friends. This is not only detrimental to individuals, but to communities and to our world as a whole. Belittling ambition, whether it is by force, violence, stigmatization, or denial of opportunity, is the first step to forging an oppressed society, one in which people are unhappy and unfulfilled. Empowering individuals of all genders, sexualities, ethnicities and otherwise to pursue their dreams is the first step to freedom.

So, today, let us turn to our allies and acknowledge all they have done to inspire our lives and the lives of others around them. More over, let us strive to do for others what they have done for us. Believe in your loved ones and add fire to their dreams; do not douse them in pessimism and doubt. Instead, inspire, invite and invigorate the ambition of others. And do so tenaciously.

Even if that means you have to bite off an ear or two.

Happy International Women’s Day,

Savannah

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