Dad, I used to look up to you. I hoped that I could be as good of a person as you when I grew up. And I would tell people you were the greatest man I knew.
Hard working, loving, and deeply wise. You made the one-way, 5000 mile journey to the UK alone, with no money to your name, and little more than the clothes on your back.
The loneliness you must have felt. The racism you faced. And the heartache of leaving your loved ones behind, not knowing if you’d meet again.
And I’m in awe of what you’ve built; how far you’ve come. Everything you gave me and my brothers, so that we could receive and enjoy the opportunities that never came your way.
I used to hang off your every word. Your thoughts and beliefs were adopted as my own. There was even a time when I wanted to be an accountant, because that’s what you did. I’d feel crippled with shame whenever you were angry or disappointed with me. Even when your emotions were unfairly taken out on me, which they often were.
All I ever wanted was for you to be proud of me. As proud of me as you were of my older brother. But as the years have ticked along, I’ve realised you never will be. Because I am not him. And nothing I do is ever enough.
Over the past five years, I’ve been doing a lot of learning of my own. A lot of growth, evolution, and soul stretching. And I can’t pinpoint exactly when it happened, but somewhere along the way, my respect for you began to shrink. Until one day I woke, and wasn’t sure if I could respect you anymore.
Because it’s now clear to me that you don’t respect women. And if you don’t respect women, then you don’t respect me.
And Dad, it’s fucking hard to respect you knowing you don’t respect me.
All the times I’ve listened to you complain about women being the root cause of everything that’s wrong with our world, and not said a word.
Women drivers. Too many women in the workplace. Women finally raising their voices, and speaking up and standing up for themselves. Women wearing provocative clothing, then wondering why they’ve been assaulted or raped. Poor men, not even being able to look at a woman now without being accused of something.
All those times I listened, and naively took on your truth as my own, without question. I never said a word. Even when it made me feel infuriated or trodden on. Because you were my dad. You were the man I looked up to, and respected. You were everything to me.
Setting one rule for my brothers, and a different one for me.
Help your mother in the kitchen.
Go set the table.
Help clear the dishes away.
Can you make us some lunch?
As if I, as a woman, was here to serve and cater to men.
My opinions and ideas were often shot down and ridiculed. You were always prioritising and praising their goals and passions and dreams over mine.
And you still do. I know you probably don’t mean to. Maybe that’s just what you saw your parents do growing up. But that still doesn’t make it right, or okay. Because that’s what I saw you do, and I’m changing it. I’m ending the vicious cycle here with me.
Raising your voice to women. Shouting abuse at my mother, and sometimes me, too. The boys didn’t escape your temper, but it always felt like Mum took the brunt of it.
And I’d make excuses for you in my head. Like why does my mum always wind you up and push your buttons? And you must have been stressed and pressured with work. And why can’t I just be a better daughter, and make you proud of me and happy?
But I’ve stopped yearning for that now. I’ve stopped seeking it out, and chasing it. Because it no longer matters to me. And I’ve been doing a great job of unlearning the misogyny you planted in my head.
You see, Dad, I will always love you, and be grateful for all that you’ve given me in this life. I know that if I’m going to complain about the bad, then I have to thank you for all the good. And I do. But it’s really hard to respect you now that I realise you don’t respect me; you don’t respect women; and you never have.
It’s funny to me that you think women are everything that’s wrong with our world today. Because like I told you last year, you’ve got everything back to front, and upside down. Everything that’s wrong with our world can be traced back to patriarchy. To men, greedy for power and money and control.
And the thing that you think is the problem, is actually the answer to it all.