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‘Where are the Dads Fighting for Women’s Sports?’ Right Here, Riley Gaines

Riley Gaines

The group finishes testimony on the Parents Bill of Rights and gathers outside the hearing room at the majestic Wisconsin State Capitol for a group photo. The last remaining advocate for the bill that sat with and encouraged others in the group throughout their testimony now stands aside. He doesn’t partake in the photo – the pic is shared with aplomb bearing the title “Mama Bears.”

The guy who testified doesn’t exactly fit the bill for a “mama bear” because he’s a dad. Just as proud, just as feisty, just as committed to key topics like protection of women’s sports. He’s been a son, brother, husband, and father to women seeking to participate in sports. Dads fighting for their children is somehow a bit less compelling a story than moms who fight with unbridled passion for the rights of both parents and children.

I was at a recent event in Waukesha featuring Riley Gaines, the noted NCAA swimming champion who has become the face of women’s sports, and the protection of those sports from biologically male competitors, and she poses the question…”where are the dads?”

Right here, Riley. The dads are here. Millions of intensely committed fathers and other men are right here with you in the fight to protect women’s sports. Maybe it just isn’t obvious enough, and many men need to do better. Riley posed this question to challenge more men to step into the fray. We’ve been speaking up loudly at school board meetings, testifying in the halls of government, and supporting our girls and women however we can. It’s job number one as a dad to protect your family, especially your daughters.

The fight of advocacy can sometimes take a different form whether you’re a mom or you’re a dad. As with so many other arenas, and part of the point when we’re working with advocacy for our children on all fronts, there are differences between men and women, and how they communicate.

I try to say this without relying on gender stereotypes, but there is a level of passion, fire, and emotion moms bring to the arena that men may not exude in the same way. Women have a way of networking and organizing that is far less common with dads. Who runs the parent groups? Who plans the events in your family? Who organizes the kids, and knows their schedules? Just to be sure, I did get these comments approved by my wonderful wife of over twenty-six years. Guys will understand.

It’s hard to quantify, but perhaps, men, in general, tend to be both more analytical and vociferous in their advocacy, and may not have the same style of passion and emotion as moms. Their intensity may be brought out in other ways.

I can’t help but think. How would I, as a father, have reacted to seeing a fully-intact, fully-grown, college-age male swimmer identifying as a woman competing against my daughter? Does a dad go down to the pool, walk up and confront the other swimmer face-to-face? Never if they are all just kids. But any sane dad knows the athletic differences between girls and boys and doesn’t want biological boys taking over girls’ sports.

No, today’s dads can’t react that way, even to a college kid. It’s not acceptable. It’s not the way we deal with today’s issues. Any action or retaliation by a father would be met with immediate scorn. The left would hound and pound on the guy worse than January 6th and George Floyd combined. It would be a massive headline for months on end about how a Neanderthal dad relied on his brute force, even if nothing happens. Any context associated would be lost in the uproar. That dad passion needs to be focused on the adults in the room, and policy makers that allow these travesties like injuries to women athletes happen.

Men and women are different. They’re different in so many wonderful ways because that’s the way they were meant to be. There are two genders. It doesn’t mean there aren’t those who may struggle with understanding how they best understand themselves, and how they “fit” or don’t fit into society. We all face challenges that manifest themselves in different ways. I can be tolerant of how you express yourself, but am not required to embrace it.

We see organizations like “Moms For Liberty” organize and advocate for parents and kids across the nation, and I fully support their efforts. There’s no corresponding “Dads For Liberty.” I don’t exactly know why; maybe there’s a need to be filled by dads. There is a group called “Dads Against Moms For Liberty,” which I will opine is likely comprised of latte-sipping betas with man buns who gripe in Starbucks.

Guys need to take Riley’s question to heart, and make sure our efforts are seen. In this arena, a dad’s work may be behind the scenes, but no less important in the fight for our women and girls and protection of their opportunities. We’re here, Riley.

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