We’re in the midst of a historic revolution about previously silenced and secret sexual misconduct. It’s an exciting time for all women, because it’s a giant leap forward for a world of true gender equality.
Amongst all the ruined careers, and vindicated victims, are families. In particular, fathers who’ve been exposed, but are raising young women themselves.
So how does a woman, who is the daughter of serial womaniser – a man who used his wealth and power to conduct numerous extra-marital affairs – feel about her father’s behaviour? How does she reconcile the father that she loves with the man that he is?
The adult daughter of such a man – a successful businessman with a high-profile – explained to Mamamia how she navigates her relationship with her dad:
“I first worked out my dad had an unconventional approach to women when I was about ten. I suddenly noticed that he’d become really charming, always cracking jokes and very smooth, when he was around young women. He wasn’t like that at all with my mum.
But I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it. Dad was a funny guy who liked to have a good time, and that’s one of the reasons I loved him. Mum was really conservative and so I guess I thought that Dad was allowed to enjoy himself in the company of others. Of course, as an adult now, I see how that would have made Mum feel. And I feel really guilty about it.
I look back now and know there were many times that I was used as an excuse for dad to escape the house to meet a woman. Dad was really interested in property, so he’d tell mum that we were going to “look at a house.” We’d arrive, and I’d spend an hour or so waiting for him in the car, while he went inside to ‘inspect’ it. If I asked to come in with him, he’d get annoyed. I spent so many hours of my childhood doing that, bored out of my mind, like a puppy in a car, just waiting for its owner to return. Then we’d go to a restaurant and we’d have a great time eating and laughing, and then go home.
Some of the houses would have ‘For Sale’ signs, some wouldn’t. I know it sounds stupid, but it never occurred to me to question my dad. He was my dad – I trusted him, and adored him. He was larger than life, and I’m so sorry to say it, but I admired his attitude to life more than I admired my mother’s very practical, cautious approach.
My father was a good man in lots of ways. He was so smart, and knew so much. He was very generous and kind to everyone he met. It might be time I admit to myself that’s not entirely true – that he treated mum badly, and that dragging me around as his cover was appalling. And of course, the women he was cheating with. But I’ve been very forgiving of him. Firstly, I didn’t realise at the time what was happening. I only found out when some of the women told mum. And I’ve never discussed any of the visits with mum. How could I?