This week’s edition of Dymphna’s Greatest Hits was originally posted on Fathers’ Day in 2005.
Fathers of Daughters
June 19, 2005
Father’s Day is a pale feast compared to what we do in May for mothers. That’s understandable since mothering roles have changed less than fathering has in the last generation. The daddy template is broken, or if not broken, certainly skewed and bent by stress. As the job has become more thankless and more easily taken from them, fewer daddies are to be found at their posts.
The easiest piece to see of this sad situation is the animus that the previous generation’s feminists have for men. Their anti-male bias has taken its toll on men, but it has not served women well either. Feminist politics are those of resentment and victimization. The younger generation of women coming along behind them are not eager to trap themselves in this ghetto where men are vilified and condescended to.
The most damaging thing the feminist movement did to women was to push fathers to the periphery. “I’d-rather-do-it-myself” was a mantra whose end result was not stronger, happier children. Long-term studies of the children of divorce do not paint a pretty picture.
In contrast to this philosophy, I offer two anecdotal pieces of evidence of the importance of fathers for girls. We know they’re crucial for boys if they are to grow up able to strive and to maintain themselves in the world as productive adults, able — as Freud said — to work, to love, and to play. Without Dad, some of that will wither. What about the girls, then?
Here are two stories that show what a woman can only accomplish with the help of her father. These are fathers who had to buck the culture to give their daughters what they needed. They are brave and courageous and anonymous men who deserve our attention on Father’s Day.
The first story appeared this week in the print edition of The Wall Street Journal. Neo-neocon reports the serendipitous appearance at her front door of a copy of the Journal which contained an article entitled “Married at 11, a Teen in Niger Returns to School,” with Roger Thurow’s byline. Neo-neocon relates the sad story she read of the young Muslim girls of the Southern Sahara who face several horrific problems directly related to gender.
The first is genital mutilation. The second is premature marriage at wholly inappropriate ages to men much older than they. These early marriages result in pregnancy in little bodies that are not yet ready to bear babies to term. When the babies are ready to be born they cannot easily leave a womb which has no room to let them pass. The result is protracted labor in which long days of pressure on the walls of the uterus cause it to tear a hole between the uterus and vagina. The result is a fistula. The result is urinary incontinence and social ostracism for smelling so bad.
The girl under discussion here was sold by her father into marriage in exchange for a camel. Mr. Thurow gives us her story: