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My 96-year-old sister said “Why argue with an old dead man?” when I told her I was writing this protest against machismo, a trait evidenced in even our beloved father. Now that I am old enough to think for myself, like 91, I can joyfully override the eternal protest that has kept me from writing very much all of these years.

I still worship that glorious father of ours, a brave entrepreneur who gave us everything.

But I do want to speak up just a little for the sake of all the wonderful women coming up in the world that need to protest machismo, for it does still live.

My sister’s psychiatrist told her “Your father is not God.” But she still believes that our wonderful, macho father is perfect. Still after all these years I have an audiotape of an interview that someone at the University of Oregon recorded for my father at my sister’s graduation.

I still adore our father, but the truth is that this is what he did. Interviewed, he bragged of all of his many accomplishments, and when they asked him “What about your daughters?” he said — oh painful words — “Oh, they aren’t much.”

Our father was macho, and even if we can still adore him, it is time that we faced that fact. Some further confirmation: When I went to him heartbroken to explain why I was piling my babies in our Volkswagen bus and leaving my gay husband, Dad said, strangely, “Well, if your rival was a woman, I would say that you should stick it out, because you perhaps could win. But against a man, you don’t have a chance.”

But we girls are much. My sisters and I were much when Dad said that. He simply didn’t see that we were. He could have said “Oh, yes, my daughters are wonderful human beings. They are all brilliant, ambitious, humanitarian, loving, glowing, beautiful people.”

And we are. All three of us have lived long, successful lives; each of us raising three remarkable children, each one of us served our communities and our country. Each of us created beautiful, happy homes.

I just want to say hurrah for all female human beings, for we are much — oh yes we are, and this next generation will be even more so.

Phyl Kern is a member of the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.

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