I wrote recently about trying to de-center myself from spaces of power. However, with recently I’ve done the exact opposite and thought about the men in my life.
I mentioned the other day on Twitter that the most recent episode of Another Round featured Tiq Milan, and commented on the frailty of masculinity. When most men feel that the concept of their masculinity is challenged, it can have frustrating ramifications. Just looking at gendered products shows us that.
This hit home for a lot of men I’ve interacted with. The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized this understanding of men didn’t really fit for one important one: my dad.
I spend Father’s Day reflecting on not just my father, but how my relationship with him affects all my other relationships. The more I thought about it, my dad has actually been an excellent role model of allyship in my life. Beyond being a great dad, he made it a point to be a great male ally to me. He listened hard when I desperately needed him to hear my voice. Growing up, he made it clear that he was not only going to stand up for me when I needed him too, but that he was going to stand beside me when I stood up for myself. He always encouraged me to not stay silent, share my opinions, and just accept my own identity.
My dad’s masculinity was anything but fragile. My dad has always asserted himself as our father, but it wasn’t oppressive. For him, being a father didn’t mean telling us what to do, but rather making sure we had everything we needed to grow into the best versions of ourselves. My father often showed us that true strength was found in being honest and vulnerable. When pride and power never mean hiding who you are, it makes it a lot easier to figure out who you are and love yourself.
I know that my relationship with my father has bled into the relationships I have with men now (well, at least the good ones). At the end of the day, it is easy to demand the best of the men in my life because I know I am complete without them. That’s what my father’s love and allyship did for me: it ensured and validated my own identity as a strong, worthwhile individual.
Ultimately, I think that’s what good allies need to do. They stand next to you when you struggle, they do their best to listen, they encourage you to share your own voice, they love and value you as you are, to help validate the love you should have for yourself.
So, in a world that often notices the fragility of men or the silence of fathers, I’m grateful to have grown up around someone who always shouted his love and support for me from the rooftops. I’m immensely lucky to have known, always, that I was beloved by the most important man in my life. I have always had such a strong example of a great man, a great ally, and most importantly, a really awesome Dad.
Happy Father’s Day, Daddy. I love you.