Girls Need Their Fathers…Well, Sometimes They Do

The ideology that women need to be protected by their father has existed for centuries. Though this idea could be set on by biological characteristics, like women are just naturally smaller and weaker than men, it seems to mostly stem from societal norms. Women are seen as fragile, innocent, a group who needs protectors and often times her protector is her father; the man that is there for her in her earliest, neediest years on. This point is clearly illustrated in Little House on the Prairie. The main character Laura is a little girl who travels across the unsettled United States with her family. Throughout the entire trip of encountering wild animals among other dangers, Laura’s father and her male dog Jack are the ones that protect the rest of the family. As the trip begins, Laura recognizes that “nothing could hurt her while Pa and Jack [are] there” (7). On another occasion when there are wolves surrounding their house, Pa is trying to encourage Laura to go to sleep, so he reassures her by saying, “Jack and I will take care of you all” (98). Without Pa there Laura would not feel safe, she needs him to watch over her and make sure nothing bad happens. Similarly, in Keywords for Children’s Literature, Erica Hateley points out that gender “dictate[s] a specific vision of social relations” (86). In the past, just like Laura’s relationship with her father, society tells us that women’s social relations should involve someone who protects them. To go along with that, societal norms also reflect that fathers need to protect their daughters, which results in little girls, and women in general, being conditioned to need their father to feel safe.

Just as you would expect though, as time goes on society changes. It still stands true that women need to be protected when they are little, just like the saying goes “every little girl needs their father”. But in this day and age, it is more common for women to protect themselves once they get to a certain age. Most fathers still want to protect their daughters, but there does come a time in which women need to learn to live without a protector. In the song “My Little Girl”, Tim McGraw reveals the difficulty a father experiences when releasing his daughter into the real world where she has to learn to protect herself. Though it is a hard time, Tim McGraw states the hard truth that his daughter needs to “go on, [and] take on this whole world.” This is true, in order for women to mature and survive on their own, they need to be let out in the world free of any protectors. Sure, like the song says, a women may need to her father every now and again, but he is no longer her main source of protection from the dangers of the world.

Even though society has revolved around the idea that women need their fathers to protect them for centuries, it is in the best interest of women, and their fathers, to realize that they can protect themselves. As the world advances and times change, societal relationships need to change with it.

3 thoughts on “Girls Need Their Fathers…Well, Sometimes They Do”

  1. I agree that this song depicts perfectly the changes in gender norms over time. In most of our readings, girls and women have been very dependent on men in general, for their own physical safety, as you stated, but also for other things such as money and status. They grow up depending on their fathers, and as soon as they are old enough they get married and become somewhat dependent on a spouse. Although this song makes it seem as though little girls still seem to need the protection of their fathers, it also makes it clear that at a certain age, girls will become women and it is then that they will become independent and no longer need any protection. However, the whole idea of this song, in my opinion, is that he will always be there to protect her should she need help. Of course this is meant as a loving gesture, but I also see this as an assumption that she is fragile and unprepared and could possibly fail in the future. I find this contradiction very interesting.

  2. Thank you for posting.
    Well, physically men are stronger than women. However, as girls we use this to our advantage. Or at least I do. When my brothers are around, I always reinforce “you are stronger than me so you should carry the heavier items” and my mom would agree with me. I don’t even attempt to grab a heavy item if a guy is around even though I could probably do it. With this idea in mind, I think we are predisposed to need our fathers or any male figure in general for protection. Little House on the Prairie is a great example because Pa was always doing things to protect the family.

  3. I think this is a really interesting point. I think its so embedded in our culture that our father’s are necessary to protect us. Also, at a typical wedding, the father walks the daughter down the aisle, and “gives her away.” Once he gives her to the husband, it is his job to protect her. This is a big thing that is embedded in our culture, that we often wouldn’t think about. But there are set in place norms that there is always someone there to protect a female. Personally, I agree with you and think that idea definitely needs to change, and that women should be able to protect themselves.

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