Accused sexist: “I have a daughter”

Lately I’ve been hearing men who want to prove they’re feminists say this: “I have a daughter.”

I get it. They’re saying that even though they are men, they have a vested interest in making sure women get equal rights, equal pay, less harassment, and fewer threats, so they can’t be sexist. Even President Obama invokes his daughters in Equal Pay speeches. (Though it bothers me less when it’s not used on the defensive.)

The problem with “I have a daughter” is that it’s akin to “some of my best friends are black,” but it’s more socially acceptable. (Awww, what a good dad.)

Having a daughter (or a mom, or a sister, or a wife, or you know, sharing the planet with billions of women) doesn’t inoculate you from being a sexist. Heck, being a woman doesn’t mean you’re not sexist. Trust me: I have and I can bro down with the best of them, when I’m not thinking.

What “I have a daughter” actually proves is that the speaker isn’t self-aware enough, or educated enough, to acknowledge that sexism is so baked into our culture that we all participate in it whether we want to or not. Instead of using your kid as proof of the fact that you care about gender issues, use thoughtful self-reflection instead.