Growing up, did you often hear the men in your life joke around about brandishing a shotgun when a boy was heading over to pick you up? Or worse, were they serious when they said it? Did you ever actually have to watch a teenage kid face your gun-toting dad and hear threats upon his life if he touched you?
If this sounds ludicrous to you, well, it is. But this is the reality for girls and women, still, in 2019. Just have a look at Twitter. And whether joking or not, threatening a teenager with gun violence is no laughing matter, and only harms the daughter these dads are apparently trying to “protect.” And it really pisses off the moms of those boys who aren’t about to tolerate that bullshit.
Awesome. What a great way to kick off prom, an exciting night teenagers dream about for years. Thumbs up, pops.
Wow. A puberty AND gun joke, all wrapped up in one. Stellar.
So only boys are sexual and girls are supposed to stay… pure? And are also weak? Is that the message you were trying to send here? It’s like you’re protecting them while also insulting them at the same time.
Well, dads, I have to tell you that as a mom of two boys who will one day be teenagers nervously picking up their prom dates, hoping to make a good impression on you, their dad, you can take your archaic “shotgun” threats (whether joking or not) and shove them up your ass.
Because guess what? I am working my damn tail off to raise good, kind, respectful boys, and they deserve to be respected in return. Will they be hormonal and excited for some alone time with their date? Maybe. Will they always think with their rational minds rather than letting other body parts dictate their decisions? I hope so, but I don’t know.
Here’s what I do know. I am raising them to have respect for others, including the person they are dating. I am raising them to understand consent and that relationships require communication, love, and safety for everyone involved. I am raising them to understand that actions have consequences and that they are responsible for theirs.
But here’s another important thing I’d like you to know. I also have a daughter. And I am raising her the same fucking way.
She, too, will grow up learning to respect others and respect herself. She, too, will understand consent and how to communicate and having a loving, safe relationship. She, too, will understand that actions have consequences and that she is responsible for hers.
Threatening gun violence only harms the daughter these dads are apparently trying to “protect.” And it really pisses off the moms of those boys who aren’t about to tolerate that bullsh*t.
Nowhere in the way I am raising my kids is there a place for your warped patriarchal “my daughter can’t take care of herself or make mature decisions as she leaves my home, so I am going to terrify the living shit out of any boy who comes around” belief system.
It’s the effing 21st century, Grandpa. Please, for the sake of all of our kids, join us in modern times. It’s time to put down the shotgun and instead, teach your daughter how to protect herself, how to defend herself, how to communicate her wants and needs, and how to choose a date or a partner who values mutual respect and consent from all parties.
Because you’re not just sending a message to that nervous boy on your front porch, Hank. You’re sending a message to the daughter you claim to love so much—the daughter you’re trying to “protect.” You’re telling her that you don’t believe in her. That you don’t trust her. That YOU haven’t done YOUR job to prepare her to handle the world past your driveway.
And, that she picks shitty dates too.
Also, all the men out there with their “it’s just a joke” response at the ready, you can miss me with that crap. Because it’s not funny and it’s hurtful. (And it makes you look like a bumbling ass, by the way.)
Seriously, please climb out from under that rock you’ve been living under, and accept that teenagers have sex. And the more we refuse to acknowledge it, the more damage we do. Don’t believe me? Well, did you know that statistically, parents who openly talk to their kids about sex have kids who engage in safer and healthier behaviors?
Yes, the U.S. has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the industrialized world, but sticking a shotgun in teenage boys’ faces (or joking about doing so) isn’t going to change that, Dad, and here’s some proof. Just compare our numbers to the Netherlands, where the teen pregnancy rate is one of the lowest.
As reported in The Los Angeles Times, a study comparing American teens to Dutch teens revealed that “American girls had become sexually active at a younger age than the Dutch, had had more encounters with more partners and were less likely to use birth control.” While the American teens noted that their sexual experiences were hormone-driven with a focus on male pleasure, the Dutch teens described their teen relationships as loving and respectful, and that they’d talked openly with their partners about how far they wanted to go and what protection to use. The Dutch teen girls also were more comfortable with their own bodies and were in touch with their own pleasure, whereas the American girls were not.
Guess what the main difference was? “The Dutch girls said that teachers and doctors had talked candidly to them about sex, pleasure and the importance of a loving relationship,” the article reports. The American parents? Well, moms focused on risks and dangers of sex and dads made stupid jokes. Not exactly healthy conversations.
Here’s the thing. Teenagers are having sex—Dutch… American… and every nation in between. The Dutch parents know it, and are addressing it responsibly. The American parents would rather sit on their porches with guns in their laps and blindfolds over their eyes.
So who is really “protecting” their kids here when our pregnancy rate is far higher?
How about this? How about we teach ALL of our kids about safe sex? How about rather than just giving our boys condoms and pointing guns at our daughters’ dates, we provide ALL of our kids with protection, education, and resources that prevent unwanted pregnancies and STIs? How about we understand that our girls have just as much of a say in when and where and with whom they have sex as boys do? And that none of our kids deserve to feel threatened by an insecure dad who overcompensates with a showy display of machismo?
Because, you know what, Joe? There’s one thing that’s a hell of a lot scarier than you sitting in a rocking chair in a wife-beater, cradling that weapon that makes you feel like a man. And that’s an angry mom whose kid has been threatened.
Arming our kids with education and self-confidence to enter into healthy relationships is far better parenting than threatening them with a 12-gauge. Because the truth is, it’s very likely that your teenage daughter is going to have sex once she leaves your front yard. You could be a fucking adult and talk to her about it, or you could hide behind your tired gun jokes and continue to avoid it.
The second option is more likely to cause not only your teen making unsafe choices, but also an angry mob of moms who aren’t about to tolerate you threatening their sons.
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