The Washington Times-Herald

Community News Network

March 21, 2013

Jail dance lets fathers, daughters take a few steps together

(Continued)

RICHMOND, Va. —

"The whole idea feels very 1950s," says Peggy Drexel, author of "Our Fathers, Ourselves: Daughters, Fathers and the Changing American Family." "I mean, do you invite your sperm-donor dad? Today's America has the daughters of donors, lesbians, two gay dads. . . ."

In October, school officials in Cranston, R.I., banned the dances — along with mother-son baseball games — after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint citing discrimination against single mothers, as well as gender stereotyping. "It's 'Ozzie and Harriet' stuff — it shouldn't be happening in this century," says Steven Brown of the Rhode Island ACLU. "Not every girl wants to grow up to be Cinderella; some might actually more enjoy playing baseball. But these types of stereotyped events promote an opposite impression."

One indication that times are changing: The Girl Scouts of America have given some of the events new names, such as "SAM" — significant adult male — dances or "Someone Special and Me" dances. There are also new events replacing the dances, such as the "Daddy-Daughter Boot Camp" for Girl Scouts on Fort Belvoir.

"What's really new here is that people whose family forms were shoved under the rug, including those in jail, are increasingly saying we have a right to the same respect that everyone gets," says Stephanie Coontz, author of "The Way We Really Are: Coming to Terms With America's Changing Families."

The dance at the Richmond jail is less improbable than it sounds: Historically, the father-daughter dances have been used to help American families reunite. They became widespread in the United States after World War II as a way to reintegrate men into family life. It's too early to know whether this dance will have a lasting impact, but Richmond City Sheriff C.T. Woody says it's a start.

Text Only
Community News Network
  • Sunburn isn't the only sign of summer that can leave you itchy and blistered

    You've got a rash. You quickly rule out the usual suspects: You haven't been gardening or hiking or even picnicking, so it's probably not a plant irritant such as poison ivy or wild parsnip; likewise, it's probably not chiggers or ticks carrying Lyme disease; and you haven't been swimming in a pond, which can harbor the parasite that causes swimmer's itch.

    July 30, 2014

  • Survey results in legislation to battle sexual assault on campus

    Missouri U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill joined a bipartisan group of senators Wednesday to announce legislation that aims to reduce the number of sexual assaults on college campuses.

    July 30, 2014

  • An alarming threat to airlines that no one's talking about

    It's been an abysmal year for the flying public. Planes have crashed in bad weather, disappeared over the Indian Ocean and tragically crossed paths with anti-aircraft missiles over Ukraine.

    July 30, 2014

  • Sharknado.jpg Sharknado 2 set to attack viewers tonight

    In the face of another "Sharknado" TV movie (the even-more-inane "Sharknado 2: The Second One," premiering Wednesday night on Syfy), there isn't much for a critic to say except to echo what the characters themselves so frequently scream when confronted by a great white shark spinning toward them in a funnel cloud:
    "LOOK OUT!!"

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140729-AMX-GIVHAN292.jpg Spanx stretches into new territory with jeans, but promised magic is elusive

    The Spanx empire of stomach-flattening, thigh-slimming, jiggle-reducing foundation garments has expanded to include what the brand promises is the mother of all body-shaping miracles: Spanx jeans.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Medical marijuana opponents' most powerful argument is at odds with a mountain of research

    Opponents of marijuana legalization are rapidly losing the battle for hearts and minds. Simply put, the public understands that however you measure the consequences of marijuana use, the drug is significantly less harmful to users and society than tobacco or alcohol.

    July 29, 2014

  • linda-ronstadt.jpg Obama had crush on First Lady of Rock

    Linda Ronstadt remained composed as she walked up to claim her National Medal of Arts at a White House ceremony Monday afternoon.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Can black women have it all?

    In a powerful new essay for the National Journal, my friend Michel Martin makes a compelling case for why we need to continue the having-it-all conversation.

    July 29, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 1.33.11 PM.png VIDEO: High-dive accident caught on tape

    A woman at a water park in Idaho leaped off a 22-foot high dive platform, then tried to pull herself back up with frightening results. Fortunately, she escaped with only a cut to her finger.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dangerous Darkies Logo.png Redskins not the only nickname to cause a stir

    Daniel Snyder has come under fire for refusing to change the mascot of his NFL team, the Washington Redskins. The Redskins, however, are far from being the only controversial mascot in sports history.  Here is a sampling of athletic teams from all areas of the sports world that were outside the norm.

    July 28, 2014 3 Photos