Today on the wall of a well-known religious figure and a Facebook personality I read that he was delighted to announce that after having three lovely sketches—his daughters, finally the real masterpiece –his son was born. That son would be the heir to the throne of his kingdom.
This is, of course, a happy occasion, and it is his personal post, but having several thousand friends and followers makes him almost a public figure.
I was disappointed to discover that out of the hundreds of likes and comments no one criticized the unfortunate choice of words. Later on there were some different comments. Thus in a second post the Facebook personality admitted to those who disliked referring to the daughters as “sketches,” that it was a joke. He also assured the readers that his three beloved daughters were raised to become strong, easy-going women with a good sense of humor.
Even if that Facebook post was meant as a parody of the old greeting: “a first born girl is a sign for boys,” I feel that it was still in poor taste.
A good sense of humor is a boon for both women and men. However, even if his daughters have a great sense of humor I am not sure that they will appreciate being referred to as “sketches.” We never know what children hear outside the house, but parents should make sure that at least at home they convey to them empowering messages. Unfortunately humor, irony, and sarcasm are especially hard for children to interpret, and often they are the cause for numerous misunderstandings.
A good example of such misunderstanding was given by another father in a speech at his daughter’s Bat Mizva. He said that as a young girl his daughter, the second child in the family, always believed that her name Shani meant that she was second (in Hebrew the word for 2nd is Sheni). Perhaps she had heard someone making a joke about her name, and, as children have a way of making illogical assumptions seem totally logical, it made perfect sense to her. That father spent the whole speech counting the ways in which his daughter was significant and never secondary
Every day we hear about the inconceivable ways in which girls all over the world suffer. They are often referred to as the weakest segment of the world’s population. So perhaps until the condition of girls improves it will be helpful if men, even fathers, direct their sense of humor to other areas of life and be extra sensitive about their daughters.
This Facebook father wasn’t, and then he went on and dismissed the concern of those of us who, according to him, felt persecuted and therefore did not find his post funny.
But I have a feeling that as a father of girls, when his daughters are a little older, he will realize that raising his daughters to be strong, easy-going women with a sense of humor does not mean that they won’t face discrimination, and that the reality of girls even in Israel is no laughing matter.