I have long loved Jeremy Adam Smith’s Daddy Dialectic site, it’s really still the best I’ve seen in feminist-leaning fatherhood blogs and he has assembled a great team of male writers over there although they’re not the most regular posters.
This is lovely over at Daddy Dialectic, you should go read the whole thing.
The other day I found myself exclaiming to my two daughters, sixteen and fourteen respectively, don’t have sex until you’re in your twenties, but here are some condoms.
I’m not sure if there is a better example of sending a mixed message.
I should explain. The other night I discovered my oldest daughter had spent the night with her boyfriend.
Now, I have consistently brought up sex with them and with their older brother who now lives on his own with a gaggle of twenty something young men in West Oakland. And I have consistently been rebuffed, scoffed at, silenced by their stares, punctuated with a rolling of the eyes or a sigh of exhaustion.
But I don’t let it stop me. I know I’m not someone they want to confide in, and I actually cringe thinking about it if they did. But I want to approach the discussion of their bodies, their rights, sex in general differently than the terse warning I received from my father to keep my dick in my pants or the silence around the subject from my mother.
There is nothing wrong with sex; it’s powerful and beautiful and a profound ritual of entering adulthood…
… And parenting by denial is never a good approach to raising children.
However, even though I broach the subject any chance I get, we don’t actually talk as directly as I’d like. And that’s why I know I need help, from other adults in our lives to examples of people or movements reclaiming the body, offering other ways to view sex, that might empower young women.
Sadly, there’s not a lot out there for them; besides a few adult women in their lives that they can turn to in need, there is almost nothing in mainstream society that speaks to young women about their growth and desires in sex positive, yet realistic and honest ways.
So I find myself saying things like, I don’t think you should have sex until you’re older; however, here are condoms
But now I also add every chance I get, and remember…
…you can always stop, you can always say no, even after you’re in the car, in the room, out of your clothes, in the bed.
No means no.
Stop means stop.
In an attempt to provide those positive examples of body ownership and empowerment, I searched out zines about self–defense, about sexual abuse, about sex positive experiences, things written by other young women.
And then, I rediscovered Riot Grrrl. The ferocity, the anger, the arrogance.
Coincidentally, I just stumbled upon this right now when I am in the middle of trying to finish a post of my own about how I want to approach my daughter’s emerging sexuality when she’s a teenager. This piece from Tomas Moniz was a beautiful, thought-provoking read.
Now, on an entirely different note, this also from one of the Daddy Dialectic writers, Jason Sperber, over at his personal blog – daddy in a strange land – is a quietly devastating post about a homeless father and his daughters that is also worth your attention.
He stayed astride his bike, proffering his driver’s license as proof of his identity. He had lost his job but couldn’t collect unemployment because of a dispute with his ex-employer. He and his two daughters were homeless, had been on the street, then in a shelter which they left after he became concerned with the attention being given his daughters by an adult male resident. Tonight was their fourth night in a motel, where a neighbor lady was watching the girls, paying by the day as he scrounged the money. He was hoping to make the last $17 doing any odd jobs in the neighborhood. He’d made some money scrubbing out buckets for a florist, but he’d do anything, for whatever one would be willing to give.