Ferrett Steinmetz is tired of being told that he should point guns at his daughter’s boyfriends.
There’s a piece of twaddle going around the internet called 10 Rules For Dating My Daughter, which is packed with “funny” threats like this:
“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.
Because consensual sex isn’t something that men take from you; it’s something you give. It doesn’t lessen you to give someone else pleasure. It doesn’t degrade you to have some of your own. And anyone who implies otherwise is a man who probably thinks very poorly of women underneath the surface.
Yes, all these boys and girls and gender queers may break your heart, and that in turn will break mine. I’ve held you, sobbing, after your boyfriend cheated on you, and it tore me in two. But you know what would tear me in two even more? To see you in a glass cage, experiencing nothing but cold emptiness at your fingers, as Dear Old Dad ensured that you got to experience nothing until he decided what you should like.
You’re not me. Nor are you an extension of my will. And so you need to make your own damn mistakes, to learn how to pick yourself up when you fall, to learn where the bandages are and to bind up your own cuts. I’ll help. I’ll be your consigliere when I can, the advisor, the person you come to when all seems lost. But I think there’s value in getting lost. I think there’s a strength that only comes from fumbling your own way out of the darkness.
You’re your own person, and some of the things you’re going to love will strike me as insane, ugly, or unenjoyable. This is how large and wonderful the world is! Imagine if everyone loved the same thing; we’d all be battling for the same ten people. The miracle is how easily someone’s cast-offs become someone else’s beloved treasure. And I would be a sad, sad little man if I manipulated you into becoming a cookie-cutter clone of my desires. Love the music I hate, watch the movies I loathe, become a strong woman who knows where her bliss is and knows just what to do to get it.
Now, you’re going to get bruised by life, and sometimes bruised consensually. But I won’t tell you sex is bad, or that you’re bad for wanting it, or that other people are bad from wanting it from you if you’re willing to give it. I refuse to perpetuate, even through the plausible deniability of humor, the idea that the people my daughter is attracted to are my enemy.
I’m not the guard who locks you in the tower. Ideally, I am my daughter’s safe space, a garden to return to when the world has proved a little too cruel, a place where she can recuperate and reflect upon past mistakes and know that here, there is someone who loves her wholeheartedly and will hug her until the tears dry.
That’s what I want for you, sweetie. A bold life filled with big mistakes and bigger triumphs.
Now get out there and find all the things you fucking love, and vice versa.
This article originally ran at theferrett.com under a slightly different title.
Having daughters can be scary but having sons can be too. Sex can be a beautiful experience and it can be a painful one. Age, relationship, gender has nothing to do with any of it. In schools, church’s and on the home front we teach our children that sex is evil if not done between a husband and wife or two “committed” ADULTS yet they are bombarded with poor sexual behaviors on movies, video games, books, magazines, the internet, advertising and even in the model many provide at home. It is hard to find one ADULT that did not explore sex as a teen and that has been the case since humankind came about, but in today’s society we believe it is healthy to shame, guilt and point fingers at our youth for doing what is absolutely normal. Sex education needs to change in my opinion, from: this is the birds and the bees and its for only making babies with your spouse; fear the diseases and possible death from it, to: here is how you honor your body, your partners body, here is how to have gourmet sex verse fast food sex, here is how to set healthy boundaries and how to talk sex with those you may be “doing it with.” Here are your safe sex options and above all else we need to teach that sex is freakin’ IMPORTANT in a intimate relationship. We do not own another’s body nor should we feel guilt for saying no to our partner when we need to, or feel shame for asking for what we want. We need to teach our children how to be strong and empowered in ALL areas of their life, not shame them for being human. I have always been a realist in my thinking on sex when it comes to all my babies, and because of what I have learned through experience and self searched out education on this topic I wish all my kids awesome safe empowered gourmet sex and I stand behind their decisions with open arms and a heart of understanding.