I have a daughter.
She has been my "little girl" since she was conceived and always will be, even when she's grown and has a family of her own. There's something about the relationship between a daughter and a daddy that is markedly different than that between son and father.
It's so because the father of a daughter must show his daughter how she should expect to be treated by men in general and her husband in particular. In every way he interacts with her and the women around her, the father of a daughter either builds up her sense of dignity and worth or tears it down. Daddy is the first to "date" his daughter, teaching her what to expect when she is taken out by a peer. The men in her life will always be compared, favorably or not, to her father.
Some men rise to this challenge and some do not. You need only look around in the over-sexualized and pornographic river of filth that passes for "popular culture" in the modern world to prove my point.
Country artist Colin Raye's song "I Think About You" is the lament of a father who sees the danger surrounding his daughter and is determined to defend her.
When I see a pretty woman walking down the street / I think about you / Men look her up and down like she's some kind of treat / I think about you / She wouldn't dare talk to a stranger / Always has to be aware of the danger / It doesn't matter who she is / I think about you
Every media outlet and every store seems to shout the message that woman's only purpose is to provide entertainment for men. As the pornographic snowball picks up speed down the hill to Perdition, the message worms its way into everything we see. Sex sells everything, and, in the eyes of Madison Avenue and Hollywood, the younger the girls who are used to make a dollar, the better. It is no surprise that there is a rise in pedophilia; the culture is oriented that way.
As a father, my heart aches when I see the public meltdowns of the young women in Hollywood. While every adult is responsible for his or her own choices, these young women were so objectified by the culture they worked in that surely they must have lost their way. Someone failed to instill in these young women the sense of their own inherent worth…that they are not "things" to be used for someone else's purpose, but that they are human beings to be given to God for His purpose and their own happiness.
Pope Paul VI foresaw all this when he wrote Humanae Vitae (On Human Life) in 1968. The culture that embraces artificial contraception would dehumanize women…and the results would be predictable. Broken women, broken families, broken society. The pope wrote: Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection. (Humanae Vitae, #17)
When out to lunch one time, I happened to notice another family at an adjacent table: father, mother, and two daughters. Each of the girls was perhaps 9 or 10, but they were dressed in miniskirts and tight T-shirts. My heart sank at the sight of them, already learning to put themselves on display as "things" rather than the little girls they were. The father at the table had failed to protect his daughters, and my first thought was "How can he let them out of the house dressed like that?" Sadly, without the guidance of the Church and other godly men, many men fall prey to Wormwood's lies. Fathers who allow their daughters to be objectified in their dress and actions are weak men, and, likely, are casualties themselves.
Failing to protect their daughters is the moral equivalent of deserting their post under enemy fire. The danger is not only for the daughter, but for the father as well, because a father who allows through action or inaction his little one to fall into sin has offended God gravely. Jesus warned, "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe (in me) to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea." (Mark 9:42)
Christ offers another way.
When God became Man in Christ Jesus at the Incarnation, He elevated the importance of our bodies to more than clothing for the soul. We have an innate dignity because of the One Who saves us, a dignity that is soiled and twisted when we abuse our sexuality for ungodly purposes. Nothing can remain alive outside of God, so to depart from God's design for our bodies is to depart from God — from Light into Darkness.
Christian fatherhood demands strength of character and reliance on God: to defend His family against the ancient Serpent and the lies he whispers. This requires prayer, vigilance, and a close walk with the Savior. As men, we must not be afraid to denounce objectification of women in all its forms. More to the point, we need to be strong enough not to be embarrassed to tell our fellows that places, movies, and magazines that portray women as objects for male gratification are filthy and worthy only of our scorn. Setting a good example for other men and defending our daughters is often difficult in this pornographic society, but it is not an unreachable standard, "for nothing will be impossible for God." (Lk 1:37) Additionally, those young women being used deserve a champion as well. If their own fathers won't shield them, it doesn't mean they should be defenseless.
After all, that woman in the magazine is somebody's little girl, too.