If I hadn’t been so closely influenced by my own father I wouldn’t have noticed the similarities that my husband has with him. The way he protects Minha, the way he (usually) tries to model a good man and the way he guides her and protects her but also wants her to develop an independent thinking and reasoning are all very reminiscent of my own father.
Why are mothers considered to be the solely responsible parent in a child’s upbringing? Sometimes the father becomes the dominant influence because the daughter wants him to identify patriarchy as she is identifying it . She wants him to agree with her experiences of misogyny and patriarchal societal values. This is why a daughter sometimes sees her father as a more valuable ally in the fight against misogyny. Against patriarchy. She wants this assurance so she can prove to the world that she got her theory and reality of patriarchy stamped by a man and that this self-awareness isn’t just a function of her own tailored brand of feminism.
My father was a man who called out patriarchy outrightly. He didn’t think women could be or should be stopped from achieving their dreams. Raising three daughters and a son in Karachi, Pakistan when the political environment was usually contentious was particularly hard for him. But he saw great deliverance in the fate of women when Benazir Bhutto was nominated as the first female prime minister of Pakistan. He supported women who challenged societal norms. He fought for the emancipation of women from unnecessary male dominance. He wanted every woman to be trained to monetize her talent and her skill. He encouraged everyone to have a craft that they could use in the face of financial adversity.
When my daughter was diagnosed with autism I realized that Adnan’s goals for her had changed a bit but his vision for her remained the same . He still tried to portray a father who is sane and makes responsible choices about life. Just because our child has huge cognitive challenges he doesn’t let his responsibility to be a role model go. He still sets a standard for himself like he would’ve if she had been able to emulate him in the moment. That is what character is, IMO. To do the right thing, regardless. We emphasize a lot on a woman’s character in our society but the example of good character in a patriarchal society will have to be set by our men. Only they can absolve a woman of the heavy duty of carrying the weight of character-building of future generations.