I was almost a teen and it must have terrified him.
My dad is a fantastic man. He worked hard, supported me, gave me everything I needed and wanted.
But as a young girl ... he frustrated me.
He was constantly making sexist remarks.
He would say, "They only hired her because she's a woman."
"It looks good for them to hire a woman, whether she's qualified or not."
"Oh yeah, the stupid husband. They never say, the stupid wife!"
and I was thinking, "I am sitting right here! Do you really think it's appropriate to say this in front of your daughter?"
I didn't realize that my dad was actually a feminist.
I never would have believed it myself.
My dad was sick.
I found myself at his bedside in the middle of the night, roles reversed, me the caregiver. I called an ambulance for him, calmly asked about his shoes and keys and wallet, and jumped in my car to follow to the hospital.
It was a long evening fueled by emotion for me.
It was difficult to see my strong, healthy father looking pale and weak on a stretcher. We joked back and forth to lighten the mood while waiting for the doctor, a very friendly female doctor, to come back with news. (Can you see where this is heading?)
The nurse returned and told my dad that the doctor wanted to run an EKG and CT scan. My dad was sure that he had an inner ear infection so he asked the nurse why they would need to do those tests. The nurse stammered a bit, and then admitted she didn't know why.
"I don't mind doing them," my dad replied, "I would just like to know why."
"Well, I can ask the doctor if you'd like me to."
"Yeah. Can you?"
A little while later, the doctor, the very friendly female doctor, returned, all smiles, back to my dad's exam room.
"So, the reason we want to do an EKG and CT scan is to see that this wasn't a stroke. From the symptoms you've described, I don't believe that it is but we just want to double check."
"Ok, that's fine. I just wanted to know."
So, the nurse returns and starts to adjust the stretcher to wheel my dad for the CT scan. The doctor is explaining to my dad what the CT scan is and what it looks for.
"So then we'll have proof that there actually is a brain in there."
And I looked at my dad, lying there in pain.
He just stayed silent. He didn't combat her. He let her say that to him.
I mentioned it to him later after the tests were done.
"That was pretty rude of her to imply you didn't have a brain." and I laughed.
He's laying down, eyes closed. "Yeah. I mean, I'm in MENSA" and he chuckles, "But whatever."
I smiled ...
and I got it.
All of those years, I grew up thinking that the definition of a "feminist" was someone who looked out for the interests of women.
A TRUE feminist believes in equality.
You should be judged on your merit as a human, not on your sex.
And somewhere, in the search for equality ... we as women have failed.
It's okay for us to say the things we don't allow them to say.
It's okay for us to have a women's tv station, or a women's right's day, or an organization run solely by women.
It's okay for us to bully and belittle and disparage them.
Why do we think it is okay for us, as women, to climb over others as we try to reach for the top?
So, it took a trip to the ER to realize that my dad is a true feminist.
My dad wanted to be treated the same as his women colleagues.
He wanted for there to be no double standard.
My dad wanted equality.
And that's what a true feminist is.