Real talk? We hate that for many men, it seems to take becoming a “father of daughters” to understand basic concepts like consent, sexual harassment and equality. Even more frustrating is the fact that there are many fathers of daughters who will never make the attempt to understand, regardless.
In fact, so pervasive is the phrase that last Sunday, we were instinctively prepared to cringe our way through a Women’s Equality Day essay penned by Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry for The Player’s Tribune (a Derek Jeter-founded media company that publishes first-person stories from athletes). Undoubtedly, Curry would reflect on the lessons he’s learned as father of daughters Riley and Ryan, and we’d likely cramp one or both eyeballs while rolling them at his “revelations.”
But while Curry does indeed speak on how his daughters are teaching him about the world he’d like them to grow up in, he writes that his education on women’s equality began long before he was raising two little girls:
Growing up, I was lucky to be raised by my mom, Sonya — an incredible and fiercely principled woman who had the courage and vision to open her own school. ... And for the last seven years, I’ve been lucky to be married to another incredible and fiercely principled woman, in Ayesha — who is both a successful business owner and the most amazing mother to our three kids. So for my whole life, really, I feel like I’ve been receiving this education on what it means to be a woman in America.
And one lesson from that education that’s really stood out to me is: to always stay listening to women, to always stay believing in women, and — when it comes to anyone’s expectations for women — to always stay challenging the idea of what’s right.
OK, you got our attention, Steph—as does pretty much anything involving the precocious and infinitely meme-able 6-year-old Riley, whose purported current ambition is to follow in her parents’ footsteps in becoming “a basketball player cook.”
Understandably, it’s Riley growing ambition—and her rapidly growing little sister—that has fueled Curry’s concern about women’s equality, an longstanding issue he admits has lately “become a little more personal ... and a little more real.”
I want our girls to grow up knowing that there are no boundaries that can be placed on their futures, period. I want them to grow up in a world where their gender does not feel like a rulebook for what they should think, or be, or do. And I want them to grow up believing that they can dream big, and strive for careers where they’ll be treated fairly.
And of course: paid equally.
In discussing the “rulebook,” Curry recalls a recent basketball camp he hosted for 200 girls—a relative anomaly for an NBA player. During a camp Q&A with several successful women in sports and business, one of the girls asked a female banker if and how she changes up her speech or body language to make her ideas more palatable (read: less intimidating) in her male-dominated field. It’s a type of code-switching many of us women can admit to in our respective careers, whether consciously or not.
“I was just blown away,” Curry wrote. “[Q]uestions like hers—those really are the questions that young women continue to have to ask about the workplace in 2018. And that’s because it’s still so deeply ingrained in them, even in 2018, that inequality is just a thing you have to come to expect.”
And it’s no wonder, as black women in particular are still paid, on average, 62 cents to every dollar white men make for the same work. It’s a statistic that was painfully confirmed on August 7, Black Women’s Equal Pay Day 2018—the date that represents when black women would’ve “caught up” with what their white male colleagues would’ve earned in 2017.
“Let’s work to close the opportunity gap,” Curry implores his readers. “Let’s work to close the pay gap. ... I mean, ‘women deserve equality’—that’s not politics, right? That’s not something that people are actually disagreeing on, is it? It can’t be.”
But it clearly is, as this is a conversation we’re still having—and in many cases, hotly debating—in 2018. And as Curry, now also the father of son Canon, rightly recognizes, undoing the indoctrination of inequality is as much about educating our boys as our girls, if not more:
“I already know, just based on his gender alone, that Canon will probably have advantages in life that his sisters can only dream of,” he writes. “How do you make honest sense of that as a parent? What are the values, in this moment, to instill in a son?”
Sure, he might believe in listening to and believing in women, but as Curry acknowledges, understanding and addressing the issue of gender equality is something that shouldn’t require being a “father of daughters” — or even Women’s Equality Day. It’s simply the right thing to do.
Every day — that’s when we need to be working to close the pay gap in this country. Because every day is when the pay gap is affecting women. And every day is when the pay gap is sending the wrong message to women about who they are, and how they’re valued, and what they can or cannot become.