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If Only Cinderella Had Worn Dr Martens

26/01/2017 14:20 GMT | Updated 26/01/2017 14:20 GMT

So we all know that Michael Jackson liked the pretty lady with the high heels on. But we'd have to hope that he would never have fired her if she had turned up in flats.

Yet, believe it or not, that is exactly what happened to Nicola Thorp last summer. That's right, she was told to go home and change, as if she was some kind of school kid being turned away at the school gates by the headmaster for not adhering to the school uniform. I mean, quite simply, it beggars belief. Talk about post truth, can this seriously be real in today's society? Indeed, it seems incredulous - no, incomprehensible - that we are still here. I mean, one hundred and fifty years on from when The London Society for Women's Suffrage was formed in 1867 to campaign for female suffrage, it feels we have hardly moved forward at all. Is the pace of change for women really so eye-watering slow?

What am I really supposed to say to my daughter, honestly? Yes, darling, you can grow up to be a strong, independent lady with ambition, with hope and drive, just make sure you wear what others want you to wear, do what others tell you to do, accept the names they call you and don't complain about it.

Whether it be an executive order of the US president to ban federal money going to international groups which perform or provide information on abortions, or the new proposals by Russia to decriminalise domestic violence, or a smirking English Tory councillor astride his horse caught on camera saying he wants to shag a hunt protester, or simply 'just' Trump's Locker Room Talk, it seems that over a century and a half on, women's fight for equality and respect has barely moved on an inch. Civilised societies, we clearly are not yet. And by society, I do of course mean us, men.

The truth is I am at a loss how to explain all this to my daughter. In an upside down world that struggles to find the right way up, my wife and I naturally do whatever we can to give her the best possible future, to equip her with the skills to face the challenges out there in the world. We help her work hard at school; we teach her manners and respect for people, wherever and whoever they are, no matter from what walk of life they come; we teach her to reason and recognise sound judgement; we make sure she understands the rule of law; we show her the world, so she can experience the richness of other cultures, of other languages, of the arts; we teach her to work hard and be a valued, committed member of her community. These are the things we should surely be striving for from our children, as they are the future of our world.

But what is she really learning? What will her real lessons be?

Because as she grows, as all of our daughters grow, they begin to understand the world around them in ways we hoped they would no longer have to. They will see that people (men) will call them derogatory names simply on the basis that they are female; they will learn that people (men) will expect them to dress and act in certain ways; people (men) will use their powers to stop their right to abortion, or to withdraw their safety in the home by decriminalising domestic violence. They will learn that they can keep their job only if they wear the right shoes, dye their hair blond and brush their face with blusher. These are the lessons they are really learning. But is this really what we want our daughters to learn? Is this really the world in which we want our children to grow?

Of course, we must continue to teach them to be strong. And we must continue to ensure that those out there - the fathers, husbands and sons of this world - do not continue to exploit, degrade and abuse their wives, mothers and daughters. I will not teach my daughter to cower. I will not teach my daughter to be inferior or to lie down and take the dishing out. I will continue to teach her to stand tall. And to stand proud. And to fight.

It has often been said that a society will be judged on how it treats its weakest members. Women are not weak, but they are not treated with equal strength. Women need to be listened to, respected and empowered. Our daughters need to know they will be heard, equally to men. It's time we change the narrative. We need to put Cinderella in Dr Martens and let her loose. Because those boots are made for walking, and we should let her trample over the whole damn thing. And if she wants to do it in heels, it's because she chooses to. Either way, it's time to make some real steps forward in order to protect our children's future.