Father-daughter dances are a time-honored tradition at many grade schools. But to one dad, these dances are a “creepy” tradition that should definitely be questioned.
The dad wrote in to the Reddit community, explaining that he feels hesitant to attend a father-daughter dance with his child when she gets old enough.
“They are creepy and sexualize the relationship between daughter and father,” he wrote. “The whole thing just grosses me out and makes my skin crawl. I love my daughter with all my heart, but I don’t want to date her.”
The dad told his wife about his feelings, and she “lost it.” She said he would be taking away an important bonding experience with his daughter if he didn’t attend the dances.
So the dad turned to social media to settle their argument, and… commenters couldn’t agree! As the dad pointed out, some daddy-daughter dances are definitely creepy — like “purity balls” in which daughters pledge their virginity to their fathers. But are regular school father-daughter dances really as creepy as purity balls? That’s what this whole debate hinged on, as you’ll see below.
A father wrote in to Reddit with a burning question: Is it fair that he thinks father-daughter dances are messed up?
The dad says he thinks the dances are “creepy” and that they “sexualize the relationship between daughter and father.”
The particular father-daughter dance in question was for Valentine’s Day.
“There are hearts all over the poster,” the dad explained. “The dad and daughter are dressed like they are going to prom together. It’s oddly ‘date-like.'”
The dad also explained what the dance reminded him of: “purity balls where fathers claim sexual ownership of daughters until marriage.”
Those purity balls are a well-documented creepy phenomenon in which young girls pledge their virginity to their dads.
To this dad, daddy-daughter dances and purity balls seem creepy in similar ways.
“The whole thing just grosses me out and makes my skin crawl,” he said. “I love my daughter with all my heart, but I don’t want to date her. I also don’t want to reinforce weird gender and patriarchal stereotypes in my [daughter’s] young mind.”
This entire question is just a hypothetical — the dad’s daughter is only 2 years old at the moment, and he says he would go to such a dance if she really wanted him to in the future.
But when he expressed his doubts to his wife, she “lost it.”
“She was shaking and crying. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her look at me with such disdain,” the dad wrote.
“She thinks I would be denying my daughter a special bonding experience. She was worried my daughter would feel so hurt and left out by this.”
Commenters were more than happy to chime in with their own opinions. Unlike many viral social media posts (where everybody piles on with the same viewpoint over and over), this one was actually very up in the air!
Some commenters thought it was completely reasonable to think these dances are gross, inappropriate, and rooted in patriarchal traditions.
Other commenters added some historical context to differentiate daddy-daughter dances from purity balls.
Daddy-daughter dances have been around since long before purity balls, so the two don’t necessarily share roots.
Others acknowledged that, yes, maybe daddy-daughter dances have problematic and sexist origins. But they also serve as a special bonding time for children and their parents and peers.
And those dances can feel particularly special in a culture where fathers are often less involved in their kids’ lives than mothers.
“I loved the daddy daughter dances my girl scout troop had growing up… It was fun and one of the few one-on-one events I had with my dad growing up (lots of siblings),” one commenter wrote.
A lot of comments did share the dad’s reservations. On the other hand, a lot of other people called the dad “weird” for thinking that the dances could be sexualized in the first place.
After all the debate, the dad returned to the post with some more thoughts. He admitted that maybe “sexualized” is too strong of a word, but the Valentine’s Day daddy-daughter dance did have romantic overtones.
Also, he pointed out that he’s a stay-at-home dad who doesn’t need a special event to bond with his kid.
“I feel like a lot of people here think I believe these things are bad because I think dancing with my daughter is sexual,” he added. “That’s not true. I dance with her now. I’m affectionate. I hug and kiss her. I nap and cuddle with her. It’s my favorite thing in the world. However, when she’s older some of that stuff becomes less appropriate.”
He finished by thanking everyone for the food for thought:
“Whatever your opinion on it, just know I’m gonna keep doing the best I can to be a good dad, dances or not.”