Why I don't need to be a good feminist to be a good dad

My daughter is a girly girl. Saying that is probably a feminist no-no (calling women “chicks” probably is, too). I just mean that she loves all the crap that is shamelessly marketed to girls her age. Despite what my wife and I tried to foist upon her, she prefers pink and princesses and frilly, sparkly things. She also has a keen sense of gender norms. I can only tell her so many times that there’s no such thing as girl colors and boy colors before I just say, “well, I guess some girls just like blue better.” The same goes for television characters and various activities that are traditionally associated with one gender or the other. I only have so much fight in me when it comes to my daughter. That chick is stubborn!

It’s possible that not only am I not a feminist, but that I am inadvertently reinforcing gender stereotypes. I was once criticized by a relative for letting my daughter play with a toy vacuum cleaner. It didn’t matter that I stay home with the kids and do nearly all the vacuuming, while my wife earns 100% our family income. This relative was just shocked that I allowed my daughter to play with a symbol of female subjugation. It never occurred to me that giving her toys that were similar to the tools of my trade could be construed as sexist. I still don’t think it is.