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Over the years, my boyfriends have feared my dad. He's a Vietnam vet -- combat wounded -- and rides a Harley. Even with a squirrel tattooed on his bicep, there is plenty to fear, mostly because of the size of said bicep. My dad and I have talked about some of those old boyfriends and who he liked and didn't like, but never once did we talk about sex. Oh gosh no. Burn my eardrums! Granted I'm a woman of a certain age and realize that perhaps the newest generation of parents of kids who are of the having sex age have a different set of "rules" when it comes to that kind of thing. Enter Ferrett Steinmetz, dad and blogger.
Anyone with the name Ferrett has to be cool, but I am a fan of unusual names so I'm partial. But Ferrett really is cool -- he is daring to say something that's profound to some and totally amazing to me. He wrote an open letter to his daughter in a blog post titled: "Dear Daughter: I Hope You Have Some F*c&ing Awesome Sex."
Now I cannot imagine my own father even writing such a thing 457 years ago when I was starting out on my sexual crusades, but I can imagine myself writing this same kind of letter to my kids when they get older. I know it's different though because I'm a mom and Ferrett's a dad and there's just something intrinsically different when it comes to dads talking to their daughters about sex. It has an ick factor that I need to stop icking about because I'd like to think I'm current and with it and I certainly don't want to create any unnecessary hang-ups for my kids. I've also written a sex book. I hope my kids would want to read it someday. But that may be a whole other ick factor ... for them.
Ferrett's open letter, however, is the antithesis of the notion that SEX IS BAD! It will kill you and boys will use you. Instead, he's essentially saying, Go on, girl. Find love. Feel love. Enjoy love. His words:
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.
See? Ferrett is so cool! I love my mom, but when she found out I was having sex 457 years ago, she told me I was just another notch in his belt. It made me feel like crap and that sex was a very bad thing that I shouldn't be doing. She may have been right in some ways (I haven't always had the best taste in men), but it also made me think that sex was just for his pleasure and clearly not my own. Granted that's a whole other issue many of us women have, and perhaps our hang-ups originate from these kind of notions. (*Scratches head*) Maybe that's why women don't hit their sexual peak until we're in our 30s (or 40s) because it takes us that long to get over all the nonsense our heads were filled with about how SEX IS BAD! Nice girls don't have sex. Nice girls certainly don't enjoy sex. These are lies. Lies. Lies. Lies I do not want to perpetuate to my own daughter.
Maybe Ferrett is exactly the kind of dad we need to have a new kind of sexual revolution. The way our parents are to us when we were younger, and the way we are to our own children as they grow up, shapes everything in their lives. This includes their sex lives. We want them to grow up with healthy thoughts about sex. Because sex is a part of life -- it gives us life in more ways than the obvious. He writes:
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.
This is exactly what our kids need to know. Ferrett ends the letter wishing his daughter: "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." Those are words to live by. For all of us -- old, young, father, son, mother, and daughter.
What do you think of Ferrett's letter? How do you talk to your kids about sex?
Image via Tara S/Flickr