With all due respect for Vox, I have to agree with Rollory here, at least in theory. Not sure he puts it very well though. Vox Day here:
Now, where do you suppose feral young women come from, families where men protect their daughters or families where men simply throw their daughters to the vagaries of sexual selection, to fend off the predators as best they can on their own? The symbolism of the t-shirt is less about winnowing the suitable young grooms, than it is about giving the daughter the strength and the permission to say “no” to the wrong ones in the full knowledge that her father will have her back.
But as it happens, the real target of the message is not men. The t-shirt is actually status-signaling on the part of the daughter, or the wife, when that version of the t-shirt is ready. It is less a warning to young men than it is bragging to other young women that she is valued, that she is loved, and that she is worthy of protection by a man who is strong enough to provide it for her.
It’s always something of a minefield to try and disagree with Vox, because his thinking tends to be so out of the box that any assumptions you’re making about what he’s trying to get at are probably wrong. You need to be more careful than with most not to put words in his mouth.
Anyway, now I’m going to disagree with Vox.
Vox first tries to frame it as “Daddy is watching his little girl go off to school”:
It may help to keep in mind that this is the original context of the phrase.
Take a position on high ground somewhere in the middle with clean sight lines of the entire route.
Load a round into your .50 caliber rifle.
Take the lens covers off the scope.
Watch as your little girl walks off to school by herself.
Except that isn’t the context Vox is using. He himself explicitly recommends that you give it to your teenage daughter:
Perfect for any daughter, particularly of the teenage variety.
If it’s about Daddy watching his daughter go to school, why recommend it to a teenager at all? Isn’t it actually BETTER if it’s a little girl wearing the shirt in that case? Or at least just as important?
The context the shirt exists in is much more obviously in the vein of songs like “Daddy’s got a Shotgun”…which is exactly where we get into problems.
Because if the context is supposed to be “I’m keeping an eye on the people my daughter dates”, the shirt is bullshit.
Nobody buying that shirt is going to shoot a kid because he keeps his daughter out until midnight instead of 10:00. Actions have consequences, and we all know this. You don’t just get away with this because you live in the boonies.
Maybe you should! Seriously. But you don’t.
This was in fact Dalrock’s original point (he is quoting someone else, whose blog seems to have unfortunately disappeared):
First, you can’t be serious. Set aside all the stuff you tell yourself and probably your wife about “traditional values and gender roles” or whatever. You cannot, in todays world seriously plan on carrying out any of these threats. You are puffing out your chest to “scare” off the “bad” boys, who know you are full of crap. It feels good, because all the women around you pat you on the head and nod approvingly. You have earned your cookie.
Scott contrasts this “traditional” bluster with his own view as a father who will one day be looking for a husband for his daughter.
When the time comes for her to start looking for a husband, she already knows we are interested in helping her find one and this makes her very happy. And when a young man comes around, he will not be met with a silly cartoon shotgun dad, but a father who wants to help them both succeed at what they are trying to do. We are not setting up an automatic adversarial relationship with him before we meet. I am aware that many young men will be at a very tenuous starting point in their career, development and so forth and I will approach the situation with that kind of sobriety.
The different approaches to suitors reflects the corresponding differences in roles and objectives. Scott will be looking to find a husband for his daughter, while large numbers of “traditional” men are instead hoping to delay their daughter’s marriage by acting as their daughter’s surrogate husband.
And notice too how Vox frames it later: the shirt empowers women. They get to use it to feel worthy.
Because that’s what modern women are lacking: The concept that they’re worthy of male attention.
The irony here being that the whole thing in the end accomplishes the exact opposite of what it’s intended to. As Cane Caldo puts it:
And if the date in question really is a bad boy this attitude is helpful to him for a couple reasons. First of all, any girl who is entertaining a bad boy is expressing to her father that his approval is meaningless. Attempts to warn off a bad boy heighten the stakes of the game she is playing. The most likely outcome is that she will do more with the bad boy, and sooner. Second, bad boys don’t want permission. They are planning to leave after they’ve had their fun any way. A father who falsely threatens is dancing to the same song as the bad boy.
And the shirt is of course completely useless against someone who is NOT a bad boy anyway, except insofar as it might scare some people off.
Vox is, of course, correct that the shirt will be a bestseller. But I don’t think that means what he seems to think it means.
The advice Dalrock quotes seems sound to me, though obviously I speak from no area of expertise: Make it clear to your daughter that you support her finding a husband, and then when she brings home a boy she likes try to understand the difficult position they’re in themselves.
This opinion and $2.50 gets you a small coffee at Dunkin Donuts.
Addendum: Dalrock addressed the whole thing himself. TL;DR: “Vox meant well, and maybe it’s a cultural thing, but I still think I was right.”