In a piece for the June issue of Cosmopolitan, Channing Tatum reflects on how he hopes his daughter will experience the world when she is older. He recognizes that there are unique pressures placed on women by the world-at-large, and he dreams of a day that she can brush them off and just be who she is. He shares these hopes as he reflects on what it means to bring his Magic Mike Live show to Las Vegas.
"I decided to turn Magic Mike into a live show because... I want women to feel what it’s like to exist in a world where men really listen to them, where they treat them like goddesses, and where they can feel comfortable and proud to express the full force of their sexual energy together," Tatum writes. "I want them to experience a place where they are much more than enough." It is this theme, that women and girls are perfect exactly as they are, that he reflects on when he thinks about the future he wants for his daughter.
"I tried to imagine the things I’d want [my daughter] to read that would help her understand men and sex and partnership better, and at that moment, I realized a strange thing. I don’t want her looking to the outside world for answers," Tatum writes. "My highest hope for her is just that she has the fearlessness to always be her authentic self, no matter what she thinks men want her to be."
These sentiments are ones I think many parents share; I, too, hope my daughters can find internal fulfillment and a life free of the patriarchal expectations that society will force on her day in and day out. I hope I can help her find the strength and ability to rise above them and to see them for what they really are: bullshit. "We live in a society that has trained men and women to play certain kinds of roles for a long time, and the beauty of this amazing moment we’re living in is that we’re finally starting to break free from those roles," he continues. "Women, especially, are realizing that they no longer have to conform to certain standards of social and sexual behavior, and this changes what they need from men and the role of men in general."
It's worth noting that the way Tatum speaks about his daughter's future is incredibly heteronormative. There is no space here for her to explore a sexual reality beyond one centered around men; even as he speaks of wanting her to break free of male expectations that may be placed on her, he centers on men and masculinity. He neglects to understand that women have known since the dawn of time that we don't have to conform to certain standards, and there is a long history of women saying, "eff you" to traditional roles. There's also a long history of women being punished for their resistance.
That said, at its heart, Tatum's message is one that many girls need to hear. He writes, "I guess if there’s one thing... men wish women knew, it’s just that they alone are enough." To hear one of the most famous and near universally-desired men in Hollywood tell women and girls that they are enough exactly as they are is important, and hopefully will reinforce the idea that it's okay for girls to not be seeking male approval. It's sad that it takes a man to give girls permission to be themselves, but I'm here for anything that encourages young women to embrace their authentic selves.
"When more women start to truly feel this power in themselves, the world will become so magical, it makes my head hurt," Tatum says. It's a nice sentiment, but I'm here to remind young women that we don't need to wait for the green light from a man to begin to harness the power we all possess. I'll just be over here making sure my daughters know that when they tap into their inherent strength, they really can do anything, and they don't need permission from anyone for that.
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