When the target is your daughter

No, it's not all men. But harassment, threats, violence, and misogyny are all too commonplace.

Dad daughter
(Image credit: (Thinkstock))

What an education it is to be the father of girls. Every male knows from bitter personal experience what brutes some of our Y chromosome brethren can be; still, it is sobering to view predatory male behavior from the perspective of young women that you used to tuck into their cribs. One evening last year, I was walking with my daughters — then 21 and 17 — on a commercial street when two liquored-up men in their 30s stopped dead in their tracks to leer at them. With brazen lust and disrespect, they looked them up and down and wheeled to watch them go past — grinning hyenas eyeing prey. A volcanic fury rose in me. "What is wrong with you?" I said, cursing, and stepped toward them. They chuckled as they slinked away. My daughters told me to calm down. It happens all the time, they said. Indeed, they've experienced much worse. Like all women, they know only too well how creepy and menacing the male of the species can be.

Last week's misogyny-driven shooting rampage in Santa Barbara gave rise to two Twitter hashtags, #NotAllMen and #YesAllWomen. In theirs, women poured out their stories and anguish about the sexual harassment, threats, rapes, and violence that circumscribe their lives. Defensively, men insisted that sexism is exaggerated, and that true misogyny is rare. To them I say: Try having a daughter. Witness grown men ogling her when she's still in high school. Live with the reality that she is not safe if she's on a college campus, in the Army, on the internet, alone on a street, or even in the company of men she thinks she knows. No, it's not all men. But it's too damn many.

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