I lost my mom when I was In the beginning, I felt the lack of my mom deeply, in every experience we should have had together. One very hot summer day my dad and I were walking downtown together. I was wearing shorts and a tank top, and I had just recently started to notice that I was growing fine, light blonde hair on my legs and darker hair under my armpits.
My dad paused for a few moments before responding, as he often did. I insisted I wanted to learn how to shave. My dad, actually, had never been shy about discussing all the things a girl would normally discuss with her mom. He told me that I didn't have to shave just because other girls were doing it, or because the media told me I should. Instead, he said, it was my choice. Soon, we set aside a time for me to practice shaving my legs.
My dad and I squeezed into our cramped, apartment-style bathroom with all the supplies. Although my dad shaved his face and his head—rather than his legs and armpits—he was skilled at using a razor, and he explained in detail how I could use it successfully.
We went over how to reapply shaving cream, how to rinse my razor so it stayed sharp, how to avoid razor burn, and how to avoid accidentally cutting myself. It never even occurred to me that other girls my age were being taught this skill by their moms, women who had probably done the exact same kind of shaving for many years. Even though he isn't a woman, my dad walked me through the societal pressure that is placed on women to shave their armpits and legs.
Shaving was only the first of many similar conversations to come. At age 14, I had my first HPV prevention vaccination. The same year, he and I had an in-depth sex talk, which walked me through not only pregnancy prevention, but also STIs, sexuality and same-sex attraction, gender identity, relationships, romance, pressure, and consent. Then when I started dating in high school, we had a follow-up to this conversation and talked about getting STI tested, cheating in relationships, and being attracted to more than one person. My father has never used the word "feminist" to describe himself, although I would categorize him as one.
When my friends started having sex in middle school and I wanted to know if that was wrong, he told me there was no right answer, and taught me that it wasn't okay to shame my friends or call them slurs just because they were experimenting sexually earlier than I was. He may not have had the correct terminology in place, but my father was teaching me equal rights and feminist ideology before I even knew what that meant.
When I came out as gay, my dad took the time to talk to several gay and bisexual women about the nuances of the issue, like whether or not I should be allowed to have girlfriends over, and how we could discuss safe sex and consent in terms of same-sex relationships.
When my dad took over where my mom left off, I didn't lose my ability to be a woman or a feminist, like people might assume. Type keyword s to search. Today's Top Stories. Advertisement - Continue Reading Below. More From Real Girl Stories. Teen Dancers Create Inspiring Nonprofit. Shocking Roommate Horror Stories.