My Dad, The Hard-Core Feminist Republican

My Parents
Though I am young, I have always been a politically-minded person, partly due to growing up near the District of Columbia, and partly because I grew up in a bi-partisan household. My mother, a practicing Catholic from the mid-west, is a Democrat and my father, a non-practicing Jew from Long Island, is a Republican.

One thing that always surprised me, though, was how my father was not like the Republicans I usually heard about. Even at the age of nine, I noticed how my Dad simply didn’t fit the usual “Republican” archetype. From ages 5-11, I grew up in a pre-dominantly liberal area of Maryland and I remember during the 2000 election hearing school friends and their parents discuss with themselves how Republicans are anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-environment, racist, Christian right-wing Bible-thumpers. That didn’t fit my dad at all.
See, my Dad hates the idea of the proverbial “woman’s place.” He grew up with a kind but passive father and driven, vibrant mother (my late beloved Grandma Julia). My Grandmother had jobs while married in the 50’s and 60’s (and we all know how difficult that was if you were a woman back then), managed to keep a sparkling household, and was always fighting tooth and nail to encourage her children to get an education (something my father noted in his eulogy to her). My father was a Republican since he was eighteen, but that didn’t stop him from letting the example his mother set be lost on him.

He met my mother when they were both in the army and earned his Master’s degree in Business, something he credits partly to his mom, for encouraging him, and partly to my mom, for supporting him through Grad School. He had no problem being a home-maker during the early years of my sister’s life and was always a nurturing figure in our home as well as an intimidating disciplinarian.

My father, like I said, is a Republican, a devoted Conservative. He believes in small Government, strong national defense, and low taxes. He’s the proverbial “Roosevelt” Republican, though, not the modern mainstream definition of a Conservative. The man freaking LOVES Teddy Roosevelt. He lists some TR’s greatest accomplishments as ending child labor, starting the progressive movement, and starting the environmentalist movement as well. Among his other political heroes are John and Abigail Adams, Bobby Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan. He lists Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon, and George W. Bush as the worst presidents we’ve ever had. And yes, he’s still a Republican. He doesn’t like Obama’s economic plan and so he didn’t vote for him. He still voted for Bush both times (sigh) and doesn’t believe in gun control or income taxes. The man hates taxes.

Of course, you might say it’s because he’s a small-business owner that he hate taxes, but he’s been a Republican since he was packing toilet bowls to go to college. He’s always been, through and through, a member of the GOP. Oh, and he detests the modern Democratic party.

But he’s not a right-winger. He HATES the Right Wing. He hates the Christian Right and it’s hold over the GOP. He’s terrified that if Obama doesn’t do well, Creationism is going to be taught in public schools. He for the most part can’t stand religion, especially when it interferes with politics, and he’s a big supporter of old-school Republican ideals. The guy is a hard-core environmentalist who is anal about recycling and was once almost arrested at an Earth Day demonstration when he was younger. He thinks Marijuana should be legal, much in the way liquor is, and was in opposition of the Vietnam War, as well as a supporter of the Civil Rights movement.

But, as I said in the title, my father is also a hard-core feminist.

First of all, through his small business, he has enabled at least six (he lost count when I asked him) women with 6-figure income. And considering that his business is mostly a part-time employer that doesn’t have many permanent hire-rees, that’s a pretty significant fraction. His business partner is a woman of color and single mom (he’s CEO and she’s President), and he employs women ALL the time. In fact, most of the people I’ve seen come to our house to work with my dad (our home serves as the main headquarters of his consulting firm) have been women. He also is the first person to encourage women to ditch dead-beat husbands (I’d elaborate, but I don’t want to expose someone else’s personal business on the web).

Another thing is that he’s crazy about my sister and I and my parents have been pretty progressive in the way they have raised us. My dad never referred to either of us as “the pretty one” or “the smart one” and has always encouraged us to be driven and successful. One of the earliest reprimands I remember from him was to “be a lady, like a good 50’s woman.” When I scoffed at the idea of being like a “good 50’s woman,” he was quick to shut me up by telling me that it was the good 50’s women who fought for my rights. He was always happy to have daughters and was very enthusiastic in us playing sports and reading. I can’t remember a time when he wasn’t telling me to get an education and get a career and I can remember him discussing and debating politics with me as far back as the age of twelve. A few months ago, I practically lit up when he told me that it was a pity that I couldn’t vote, because he would consider my vote to be better informed than a lot of people twice my age. Considering we were taking completely opposite sides at the time, that’s saying something.

My sister graduated from UGA Magna Cum Laude and was Cadet Commander of the ROTC and is now going to law school, passing with flying colors and getting job offers FROM THE WHITE HOUSE (sorry, I like to brag). She takes after my dad more than I do, and so many of her accomplishments bear so much resemblance to my dad and his influence on us.

My father expects me to get a Ph.D in something and become some authority on some section of history or a social critic. Rather than refer to us as “the pretty one” and “the smart one”, he refers to my sister as “The Lethal Legal Weapon” and to me as “The Genius.” (I think “The Maniac” might be more suitable though. I’m sure he agrees most of the time.)

Also, my dad taught us from an early age to release our inner-Buffys. “Someone hit you, hit them back!” Only, he didn’t talk about Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He doesn’t like vampires.

Now, of course, encouraging your daughters isn’t enough to call yourself a feminist. And yes, it’s great that he also is a businesswoman’s best friend, but he’s still a Republican, so how does that affect him politically? Does he contradict himself there?


My Dad is a member of Republicans for Life and dislikes Abstinence Education. He dislikes how welfare is set up and thinks welfare moms should be given jobs, childcare for their kids, and that dead-beat dads should be imprisoned. He thinks prostitution should be legalized so that prostitutes can be treated and protected and not enslaved by pimps. He’s also a big supporter of Gay Marriage and adoption. He knows the pay gap exists and isn’t afraid to acknowledge it. Sexism, especially supposedly acceptable sexist jokes, disgust him. He has complained to me before how   most of these politicians are not nearly as qualified as their wives and that the country would be in a better place if the wives would run instead (funny story: Before Michelle Obama alienated him with the “first time I am proud of my country” comment, he had been watching her speak and said to my mom “Why is he running instead of her?”). And, as much as he dislikes her politics (and her husband especially), he considers Hillary Clinton to be a Patriot. 

I once asked my father if he wished he had had a son. He replied that all men fantasize about having a son, but that he likes that fact that he had daughters instead, because he considers having daughters to be “more interesting.”

Also, my father bears another distinction which I believe makes him a true feminist: He’s happy to say he is. He is one of the few men I know who is willing to say that without even asking what I mean by the word “feminist” before answering. Heck, I don’t know many WOMEN who do that (other than my Mom, and her stories about Rosie the Riveter and a few others).

In my opinion, I would not be the feminist or the writer, or the person I am today without my dad’s influence. His Roosevelt Republican, hard-core feminist influence.

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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