Friday, September 21, 2012

Father Daughter Dances: Gender Discrimination??

I am for the most part on the progressive side of the spectrum. But there are a few places, often involving what are referred to as "social" issues, where I am not. In fact there are some areas where I think self-styled progressives are full of it. This story out of Rhode Island is one such instance.

Father-daughter dances and mother-son ballgames -- those cherished hallmarks of Americana -- have been banned in a Rhode Island school district after they were targeted by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU, the self-proclaimed guardian of the nation's liberty, says such events violate the state's gender-discrimination law. The organization challenged their existence following a complaint from a single mom who said her daughter was prevented from attending a father-daughter dance in the Cranston Public Schools district.
The story has created a furor both online as well as in Cranston, a community located south of Providence and considered one of the safest places in America.
"[Parent-teacher organizations] remain free to hold family dances and other events, but the time has long since passed for public school resources to encourage stereotyping from the days of Ozzie and Harriet. Not every girl today is interested in growing up to be Cinderella -- not even in Cranston. In fact, one of them might make a great major league baseball player someday.

For my money it appears that some people who would make a fuss over a father daughter dance aren't so much trying to prevent "gender discrimination" as they are trying to impose their framework of gender relations upon everyone else. Just for the record I am against "gender discrimination" but I don't think father-daughter or for that matter mother-son activities fall under that rubric. And if they do according to Rhode Island law then the law is stupid and needs to be either ignored or better yet changed. It's little things like this that make people on the bubble withdraw from public society and only engage in their own private social networks. I mean this is ridiculous. A state is actually saying that a father-daughter dance is "gender discrimination". Why would I want my kids to attend public schools if public schools are going to have to submit to that sort of foolishness? I would pull them out to a private school and start agitating 24-7 to reduce teacher pay and school funding. Were I an ACLU member (and I happen to be) I would question making donations.
Not everything is for everybody. If a young girl doesn't have a father in her home or in her life but would still like to attend a father-daughter dance the proper response should be to have an uncle, cousin, grandfather, older brother, in-law or properly vetted family friend or priest stand in to escort the child. The correct response is not to shut down the entire project because someone in the ACLU apparently has issues with traditional gender roles or heterosexuality itself. Maybe these little girls are being trained for future oppression by having a school sponsored dance with Daddy. Oh the horror, the horror!!!!! Are we going to shut down proms because not everyone could get a date?
Sometimes people who are pro gay marriage wonder why opponents even care. Well things like this are part of the reason. The idea that gender is or ought to be irrelevant in almost every instance is an article of faith for a vocal section of the left. This underlying idea is what leads some to enthusiastically support gay marriage but it also leads to some people having barely disguised hostility to cultural artifacts of gender distinction like father-daughter dances. I mean who sits around thinking that we need to stamp out father-daughter dances because otherwise we'll never have any female major league baseball players? Somebody explain to me how that works because I'm not seeing the connection. Whatever happened to if you don't like or can't participate in an activity, don't do it? Right? If you don't like gay marriage, don't marry someone of the same sex. If you don't like abortion, don't have one. If you don't like opposite gender family to the state and get them shut down because they offend your delicate sensibilities.
The US is the midst of a transition, really a decline, in which for women under thirty most births occur outside of marriage. I don't think this is good for men, women, or children or society as a whole. I may write more about that at a later time. With so many single mothers, there will be many more daughters who may not grow up with their father. That's unfortunate. Good paternal relations can head off a host of problems down the line. But for those daughters who do live with their father or at least have a relationship with him, let's not prevent them from enjoying a happy and harmless little tradition like a father-daughter dance. What's wrong with some common sense?


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