In light of the recent #MeToo movement of women claiming to have experienced sexual harassment or assault – a movement whose members TIME magazine just collectively named its Person of the Year – one would think that Americans had united behind a crystal-clear moral perspective on such behavior. One would think that this perspective would recognize the obvious difference between men who are predators (bad) and men who are protectors (good). But then The Washington Post saw fit to post an opinion piece Sunday whose author declared that a father who sees himself as his daughter’s defender is objectifying her just as much as the pervert he wants to defend her from.
In her morally muddled piece “Paul Ryan and Harvey Weinstein are both ‘fathers of daughters,’” Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg says that when men begin a public condemnation of sexism with some variation of the phrase “As the father of daughters…,” it indicates that these fathers think they have some special appreciation for women because they have girl children, but they actually do not see women – even their own daughters – as “three-dimensional people worthy of respect and care.” Instead, they view them as prized possessions whose honor and virginity must be kept intact. “The focus is ever on her body parts, used or unused, available or protected,” writes Ruttenberg.
As an example, she takes Speaker of the House Paul D. Ryan, who recently commented on the tsunami of sexual harassment accusations sweeping the country involving power players from Washington, D.C. to Hollywood.