Something that has always bothered me a little bit is the idea that fathers and other male relatives are somehow supposed to guard the “purity” of their younger female family members. This is not only possessive and weird, it’s also indicative of how pervasive the idea that girls’ virginity is something sacred that that woman should not be allowed to simply choose for herself. The fact of the matter is that women should be able to have control over their sex lives; they should not require bodyguards. Instead, “no” should mean “no” and “yes” should mean “yes,” nothing more and nothing less.
However, there are still those stupid little sayings that men sometimes say regarding their daughters’ sex lives, such as the one quoted in an excellent article by Ferrett Steinmetz over at The Good Man Project. He wrote about the frustrations that he feels when seeing the protection of this supposed-purity as justification of violent behavior or intent, however comically insinuated:
“Rule Four: I’m sure you’ve been told that in today’s world, sex without utilising some kind of ‘barrier method’ can kill you. Let me elaborate: when it comes to sex, I am the barrier, and I will kill you.”
All of which boil down to the tedious, “Boys are threatening louts, sex is awful when other people do it, and my daughter is a plastic doll whose destiny I control.”
Look, I love sex. It’s fun. And because I love my daughter, I want her to have all of the same delights in life that I do, and hopefully more. I don’t want to hear about the fine details because, heck, I don’t want those visuals any more than my daughter wants mine. But in the abstract, darling, go out and play.
Oh, Ferrett, I think you seem like an awesome dad. To not only recognize that you are not in control of your child’s actions — seriously, the idea that you can control your kids using any method short of fear and locking them up is so absurdly cocky — but also to publicly encourage the attitude that your daughter’s sexuality is her own is nothing short of awesome, especially when you consider how people tend to react toward fathers discussing sex and their kids.
The author goes onto describe how even though some of the things his daughter is “going to love will strike me as insane, ugly, or unenjoyable,” that is something he will accept because she is strong. And that strength — that’s something to be proud of for both of them.
Personally, I believe in explaining guidelines to your kids (sons and daughters). I want to give my own all the information they need on birth control, contraception, safety, consent, abortion, and anything else that’s necessary to be informed on. I want to tell mine that they can discuss anything with me, that I will always be there for them, that no situation is too bad for me to leave them alone with. I think being overprotective, while natural, is generally useless in a lot of ways, so I’d rather just have my children know a whole lot of true information rather than only a little bit of wrong information.