It's the fathers of sons who can help fix misogyny

It’s a well-worn phrase, trod out every time men feel the need to distance themselves from misogynistic comments or behaviour. “As a father of daughters” has been particularly pervasive in the last few weeks, as Republicans have denounced Donald Trump for saying he "grabs" women's genitals in a 2005 video. 

Fathers of daughters may well feel a personal sense of outrage – but it's the fathers of sons who could, ultimately, do something to mitigate or end the misogyny that taints our culture. Left up to their own devices, we know what boys will grow up to do. According to a 2014 study, 65 per cent of women have experienced street harassment, 20 per cent have been followed, and 9 per cent forced to do something sexual. But the street isn't the only danger zone: one in three 1 in 3 women has been harassed at work, according to a Cosmopolitan study last year. 

As a father of sons, it's my responsibility to help. I have to speak in an age-appropriate fashion when it comes to sexual activity and predation, but the basic concept of consent is something every child can understand. 

If we don't have that discussion with our boys, we're leaving them at the mercy of our broader society. Our boys' morality is too precious to leave up to TV and locker room buddies as their main sources of instruction.

But it's not enough to simply avoid offence. We need to raise our boys to be conscious and critical of the culture they enter. Confronting misogyny around them will make our boys not just individuals who do no harm, but agents of change. 

There are others reasons to chafe at the "fathers of daughters" line. As nice as it is to have fathers on the side of equality, there is the obvious question of "where did you stand before?"

Shouldn't every person, whether or not they have daughters – or sisters or wives – find talk of sexual assault abhorrent?

Steven I. Weiss is managing editor at the Jewish Channel.

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