The easiest way to tell this is to just look at how the word “date” is used. Maybe they’ll enter a pinewood derby together, but that’s it.

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I almost have panic attacks whenever I think back to all of those poor, unfortunate girls who danced with me at high school proms, tolerating my sweaty awkwardness as we lumbered through the long version of “The Lady in Red.” I have a lifetime of iconography, emotions, and baggage that my mind associates with formal dances, so the idea of attending one with my DAUGHTER…yeah, it made me uncomfortable.

Fortunately, the night ended up being much less strange and much more benign than I thought it would be.

As we walked onto the decorated rec center basketball court, the DJs were playing John Mayer’s “Daughters.” (Of course, they were.) The rest of the night was spent listening to Taylor Swift and “Gangnam Style”.

There was face-painting and cookies and, after the scheduled balloon drop accidentally dropped half an hour early, my daughter and her friend asked if we could leave, so they could play at home.

There were a few uber-intense dads who seemed a little too emotional during some of the slow dances, but, largely, the night was, if not innocent, fairly innocuous.

Let me be clear—I would NEVER criticize a father for taking their child to a Daddy-Daughter Dance.(Especially now that I’m a member of the club.) I really appreciate fathers who actively look for special events to share with their daughters. She’s a fantastic lunch companion, I’ve never seen anyone enjoy a trip to a museum more than she does, and there are few things in the world I enjoy more than having a long, rambling conversation with her while we lazily walk around the zoo with her on my shoulders.But I do have an issue with how society portrays father-daughter interactions, a portrayal that is, in part, reinforced by events like Daddy-Daughter Dances. Rather, if a father and daughter are out together in public, everyone says they’re on a DADDY-DAUGHTER DATE. For the record, I do not want to go on a date with my daughter. But, if I’m being honest, the term “Daddy-Daughter Date” just creeps me out to my core. Because I went on dates, a lot of dates, before I met her mother, and many of those dates were flirty, awkward, tense, embarrassing, and, occasionally, sexual.Because dads and daughters, apparently, can’t just spend time together. And I don’t like associating ANY of those words with my relationship with my daughter.I’m not saying that the word “date” is an inherently sexual word. The term “play-date” is one of the most common parenting terms around.However, beyond play-dates, in the context of parenting, “date” has become a very gendered word.