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The politics of empathy
June 19, 2013 11:04 AM   Subscribe

Having Daughters Rather Than Sons Makes You More Liberal In remarkable research, the sociologist Rebecca Warner and the economist Ebonya Washington have shown that the gender of a person's children seems to influence the attitudes and actions of the parent.
posted by MisantropicPainforest (100 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
I can find loads of exceptions. Something about men with daughters turns them even more possessive and objectifying. Just witness the plethora of "Put your hands on my daughter and I'll shoot" bumper stickers. Sons? Let 'em run wild. Daughters? Precious cargo that shall not be tainted!

It's possessive bullshit.
posted by grubi at 11:09 AM on June 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I immediately thought of Mitt Romney's five sons.
posted by Area Man at 11:10 AM on June 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Just witness the plethora of "Put your hands on my daughter and I'll shoot" bumper stickers. Sons? Let 'em run wild. Daughters? Precious cargo that shall not be tainted!

Hey, hey, hey. I'm sure all of those fathers would fiercely defend their daughters' rights to own one of these.
posted by phunniemee at 11:12 AM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Something about men with daughters turns them even more possessive and objectifying.

Thanks, my daughter and I appreciate your sentiment.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 11:13 AM on June 19, 2013 [20 favorites]


Sons? Let 'em run wild. Daughters? Precious cargo that shall not be tainted!

I think this is precisely it, though. We see our daughters as needing to be cared for more than our sons.
posted by sunshinesky at 11:14 AM on June 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ah yes, the difference between trends and anecdotes.
posted by ChuraChura at 11:14 AM on June 19, 2013 [8 favorites]


Is that necessarily a component of being politically conservative? That you're more protective of your children? These two things do not strike me as being related at all.
posted by MysteriousMan at 11:16 AM on June 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have two duaghters, along with 6 boys. I am protective over them but the have too do the same as the boys. Never occured too me that they needed me too help them anymore than the boys.
posted by ionized at 11:23 AM on June 19, 2013


Single link web site from 2009?
posted by Melismata at 11:24 AM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it's unfortunate that anyone should worry more about a child based on their sex alone, but I believe it's a social reality.
posted by sunshinesky at 11:25 AM on June 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


Hey, hey, hey. I'm sure all of those fathers would fiercely defend their daughters' rights to own one of these.

Seriously, whatever happened to raising our daughters to be independent and do their own shootin'?
posted by madajb at 11:30 AM on June 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think it's also at least in part because it's very easy to see how conservative policies affect women: I'd imagine that concerns about access to abortion and birth control, and things like passing the fair pay act become much less abstract when you have a girl sitting in front of you whose future you can imagine being circumscribed by the outcomes of these policy debates.
posted by ChuraChura at 11:33 AM on June 19, 2013 [26 favorites]


Fathers with mostly or only daughters also tend to be better-dressed and better groomed in my experience. YMMV.
posted by grubby at 11:33 AM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can find loads of exceptions. Something about men with daughters turns them even more possessive and objectifying.

Can you point to research that supports this hypothesis. Thanks.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:35 AM on June 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


This makes perfect sense to me. Women do not enjoy the same opportunities that men do in our society both politically and financially. People who do not enjoy all of the same rights and opportunities as everyone else tend to be more liberal (as it is a liberal notion, sadly, that people actually be treated equally). When people have someone close to them who does not enjoy the same rights and opportunities as others, they tend to be a bit more liberal because they see how the traditional system hurts someone they care about. They are more likely to see injustices that are right under their noses.

So it makes perfect sense that parents of female would become a bit more liberal because they would have someone very close to them who is not getting the same rights and opportunities as others. I am sure that parents of disabled children, gay children, and children of a different race tend to be more liberal, too.
posted by flarbuse at 11:35 AM on June 19, 2013 [11 favorites]


flarbuse:
So it makes perfect sense that parents of female would become a bit more liberal because they would have someone very close to them who is not getting the same rights and opportunities as others. I am sure that parents of disabled children, gay children, and children of a different race tend to be more liberal, too.
See: Rob Portman.
posted by charred husk at 11:45 AM on June 19, 2013


So it makes perfect sense that parents of female would become a bit more liberal because they would have someone very close to them who is not getting the same rights and opportunities as others.

I'm not sure this leads to "becoming more liberal" or having more empathy. I see a lot of people who just want to game the system to benefit their families. There are certainly a lot of NIMBY anti-choice people who are happy to restrict access to reproductive health resources locally, knowing that they have the resources to travel if necessary. Laws are meant to restrict other people, after all.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:49 AM on June 19, 2013


Just witness the plethora of "Put your hands on my daughter and I'll shoot" bumper stickers. Sons? Let 'em run wild. Daughters? Precious cargo that shall not be tainted!

But that starts from infancy, with caretakers of both genders deliberately placing male infants in positions of more danger with the assumption that they are more crawl competent. Female infants, on the contrariwise, get much more time being spoken to and gazed at.

We stream people, from infancy, into roles. This is long before children to have been exposed to sex hormones enough to differentiate between them other than a wee little bit in the diaper.
posted by Phalene at 11:53 AM on June 19, 2013 [9 favorites]


Just witness the plethora of "Put your hands on my daughter and I'll shoot" bumper stickers. Sons? Let 'em run wild. Daughters? Precious cargo that shall not be tainted!

This is a horrible, horrible trope that normal seeming people seem to want to perpetuate. I know several fathers of baby daughters who vote quite liberal but make jokes about wanting to look for deals on shovels when their daughters turn 13.

You know, to kill and bury the boys who want to date them.
posted by sweetkid at 11:57 AM on June 19, 2013 [11 favorites]


I agree in flarbuse in general, but it would be interesting to see this research in 1969, when there was a draft on.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:59 AM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think that a good thing for an overprotective father to do would be to do the usual routine of sitting and getting to know his daughter's tentative suitor in an akwwardly silent living room, as is the manner, and then he would sort of pointedly take out a gun and begin cleaning it. But not a normal gun. I think it should be a Nerf gun, some really obvious Day-Glo thing, and he should treat this with the utmost seriousness - carefully checking the chamber to make sure there are no bright orange darts in it, and solemnly taking out a rag to give it a wipe down. A wire brush visible.

He should make no mention of what he's doing. If the kid asks (he probably won't), the father should just be like, "What, old Sarah Jane here? Heh heh. Don't you worry about that."

When sending the kids off for their date, he should sit down on the porch with a contented sigh, wave to them, and with this ridiculous bright yellow Nerf rifle in his lap, call out, "You kids have a good time! I'll just be here. Cleaning my gun."
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 12:05 PM on June 19, 2013 [42 favorites]


Son, I think you just wrote yourself a webisode.
posted by sweetkid at 12:14 PM on June 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is a horrible, horrible trope that normal seeming people seem to want to perpetuate. I know several fathers of baby daughters who vote quite liberal but make jokes about wanting to look for deals on shovels when their daughters turn 13.

Yeah, as far as I'm concerned that's up there with purity rings on the squick meter.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:17 PM on June 19, 2013 [11 favorites]


But nothing separating correlation from causation, or even determining which was causation goes?!?!? Because that seems like a very likely possibility here. Older parents are more likely to conceive daughters, and liberals tend to have children later in life. Put those two things together, and it looks less like "having girls makes people more liberal" and more like "liberals are more likely to have girls."
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 12:23 PM on June 19, 2013 [14 favorites]


This is a horrible, horrible trope that normal seeming people seem to want to perpetuate.

It's a fantasy of the powerless as well. Although it goes about it the wrong way, and often smacks of reducing the girl in question to her uterus, it's a hold over from when you were sexually assaulted, your only protection was your male kin.

It also thrives in a world where sexual assault is all too normal. Because this violence is most commonly from people who are known to the victim, the idea that terrorizing males away from female family members is tempting.
posted by Phalene at 12:26 PM on June 19, 2013


Put your hands on my daughter's reproductive rights and I'll shoot.
posted by Slothrup at 12:26 PM on June 19, 2013 [15 favorites]


I have yet to have a conversation with someone who has a daughter without either them or someone else saying "Yep, gonna have to lock 'em up when they hit 14, or get a gun, heh heh,". I mean, it is inescapable.

Not having a daughter, I have not yet figured out how to say "That's creepy," without upsetting people. Or "hey, yeah, it's funny you're making jokes about my son being a barely-contained rapist you should shoot if he tries to date your daughter, haha."
posted by emjaybee at 12:27 PM on June 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


i have two sons and voted for Obama. This argument is invalid. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm late for the annual Communist Hunt. Better Dead than Red 2013, yo.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:30 PM on June 19, 2013


I think this is precisely it, though. We see our daughters as needing to be cared for more than our sons.

Oh, I dunno. I spend a lot of time caring for and working with my son, while my daughter (who is the same age) gets a lot more freedom because she's better at handling herself.

I will say that I have started to teach her more about protecting herself, because the likelihood of her being raped by a stranger or date-raped by an acquaintance is higher, but that's a reflection of what she'll actually have to deal with, and I spend equal time working with my son to ensure he's not part of that problem.
posted by davejay at 12:31 PM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I will admit I make a "when she's 14" joke, but the joke is on me, because she's already too clever by half, and by the time she's a teen she'll probably be walking all over me. I figure she'll leave a trail of broken hearts in her wake, and the boys won't know what hit them.
posted by davejay at 12:33 PM on June 19, 2013


We see our daughters as needing to be cared for more than our sons.

Which leads the current over-correction where boys are left behind or shunted to an under-funded special education system.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:35 PM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


it's funny you're making jokes about my son being a barely-contained rapist

Remember this? I think that explains the prevalence of this attitude among "liberal" people.
posted by MattMangels at 12:35 PM on June 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


which is to say, her walking all over me and the boys she meets is the joke, not "ima gonna get a gun hur hur hur" -- and I think the kernel of truth is large.
posted by davejay at 12:38 PM on June 19, 2013


ThatFuzzyBastard,

Access to longitudinal information gives us the opportunity -- one denied to previous researchers -- to observe people both before and after they have a new child of any particular gender.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:38 PM on June 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


You know, to kill and bury the boys who want to date them.

Or the boys who want to date rape them. Hell, I make jokes about using my combat skills to scare boys, and I'm not even sure I'm kidding. As the parent of a daughter in today's world, if you don't fear for their bodily integrity, you are probably unaware of the many pressures on them.
posted by corb at 12:40 PM on June 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


charred husk: flarbuse:
So it makes perfect sense that parents of female would become a bit more liberal because they would have someone very close to them who is not getting the same rights and opportunities as others. I am sure that parents of disabled children, gay children, and children of a different race tend to be more liberal, too.
See: Rob Portman.
Come back when you can count your data past "one". Preferably, by thousands.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:41 PM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can find loads of exceptions.

That's...not how research validity works.
posted by threeants at 12:42 PM on June 19, 2013 [12 favorites]


Weird. Five Thirty Eight is redirecting me to the NYTimes when I scroll down the page.

Anyway as Nate writes (which I can only very briefly view) - the effect size matters. It can be a pretty trivial but statistically significant difference when you have huge datasets.
posted by srboisvert at 12:42 PM on June 19, 2013


I never used to hear myself talking like a Strident Social Justice Warrior until I started having to answer questions from my daughter about sexist attitudes and assumptions that she'd picked up somewhere or somehow internalized, so maybe there's something to this. Should I start a Tumblr?

And I'll be happy to give up my "I'm going to kill my teenage daughter's suitors with a shotgun, ha ha" jokes and the grim little scraps of solace they provide me once shit like date rape is completely eradicated, okay?
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:44 PM on June 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


yes. the 'shovels' bit is sorta about bodily harm, rape etc, but in my view it is really more about protecting the girl's "virtue" because teenage boys only want "one thing."

It's reductive to both genders and treats sexuality as a terrifying thing that pits one gender against another, rather than something that can be healthily explored together by a couple, even a young one.

And by sexuality I don't mean sexual intercourse only.
posted by sweetkid at 12:44 PM on June 19, 2013 [18 favorites]


My sister had a few more restrictions placed on her comings and goings (a curfew, etc.) by our parents than my brother or I did. The joke was on them, though, because she got up to more shenanigans than he and I combined.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:47 PM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Come back when you can count your data past "one". Preferably, by thousands.

That is exactly why I posted this FPP. The data is more than 'one', and includes thousands. Your wish was preemptively granted!
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:51 PM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


yes. the 'shovels' bit is sorta about bodily harm, rape etc, but in my view it is really more about protecting the girl's "virtue" because teenage boys only want "one thing."

Knowing where a joke like that falls on the retrograde-concept-of-virtue vs threat-of-bodily-harm spectrum is probably something you can suss out by knowing the person who made the joke, but not necessarily from the joke in itself.
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:09 PM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


yes. the 'shovels' bit is sorta about bodily harm, rape etc, but in my view it is really more about protecting the girl's "virtue" because teenage boys only want "one thing."

It's reductive to both genders and treats sexuality as a terrifying thing that pits one gender against another, rather than something that can be healthily explored together by a couple, even a young one.


Here's the thing.

I have conversations with my daughter about sex and sexuality, now. She's not old enough to have sex; she is so embarrassed by them that she tries to start saying MOM I ALREADY KNOW every time I start them; I still start and have them. I tell her that sex is something special between two people and eventually she may want to have it with someone and that there are precautions and that her body is her own and a plethora of information, which includes, explore your sexuality however you want. And she can date girls if she wants to! Or boys! Or nobody! We are so far beyond the "sexuality is terrifying" bit.

But I don't trust that everyone is having those conversations with their sons. I don't trust that people are having "Don't Rape" conversations with their sons. I don't trust their sons to behave themselves with my daughter; not because I value her virginity/"virtue" but because I value her eventual healthy exploration and development as an adult that hasn't been traumatized by her teenage years.

And so if I can be terrifying to any of the young men that show up at their door, if they have to worry not just about "Maybe this insecure, concerned, 15 year old is going to report me if I push her too far" but "Maybe this war veteran soldier mother is going to murder me and stick me in a ditch if I abuse her daughter", you're damn right I will be.

I might wish I lived in a society where I didn't have to: but until then I will cheerfully start posting shooting targets up on the walls and talk guns, guns, guns, when a fellow comes over. And hope, hope to god, that somehow it will take.
posted by corb at 1:15 PM on June 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


Knowing where a joke like that falls on the retrograde-concept-of-virtue vs threat-of-bodily-harm spectrum is probably something you can suss out by knowing the person who made the joke, but not necessarily from the joke in itself.

It's kind of hard to find cites for this in particular, but I'm not alone in thinking that the whole father-with-shotgun trope comes from "don't have sex with my daughter, I know that's what you want to do, I was a teenage boy too." You can see this in a million sitcom first date scenarios.
posted by sweetkid at 1:16 PM on June 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is one thing I appreciate about my father; he had twin girls, and never, ever made a joke about needing to get a shotgun out.

Then again, he drilled "be responsible" into our heads all through the years, and he's pretty dyed in the wool conservative.

Then again again, we are Canadian, and our right seems to be left of left in the US.
posted by LN at 1:17 PM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


And I'll be happy to give up my "I'm going to kill my teenage daughter's suitors with a shotgun, ha ha" jokes and the grim little scraps of solace they provide me once shit like date rape is completely eradicated, okay?

I don't like the trope either and as the father of 2 daughters, I'll never use it, but it is a good point. Odds are 1/3 that your daughter will be sexually assaulted. The "shotgun" and "shovels" jokes are (whether you like them or not) socially acceptable methods of communicating that (necessary) message of "hey, you, i like you and will joke with you, but please don't rape my daughter."

I agree that the proper message ("don't force women into sexual activity") is something young men need to hear repeatedly, but I can't imagine meeting my daughter's boyfriend and saying, "Now have fun you too, but hey, Johnny, please don't rape her."

So I don't mind the jokes that much, even if they imply "I fucked all sorts of girls when I was young, but if you try that with my daughter I will hurt you" instead of the more important, "don't rape."
posted by mrgrimm at 1:24 PM on June 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Dick Cheney has two daughters.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:28 PM on June 19, 2013


In the office a while back my co-workers were discussing the whole Stubenville rape trial case. People were trying to discuss it in the light, non-specific, self-censoring kind of way you talk about controversial things in an office setting, especially when you don't know where everyone's politics lie.

I was the only person in the conversation to not have any kids, where as they all had at least 1 son. "Bob" has a son and daughter.

Co-worker: "Well, gee, I am SO glad I don't have any daughters. Eh Bob? You're going to have to look out for Sally when she's older huh?"

*half-hearted laughs from other people* followed by dead silence. (And me screaming inside my head at the wrongness.)

Co-worker 2: "Oh, well... I guess we're the ones that need to raise our sons right huh?"

*lightbulbs go off in the son-parents heads*

Me: *ENTHUSIASTIC NODDING*
posted by fontophilic at 1:36 PM on June 19, 2013 [21 favorites]


We stream people, from infancy, into roles. This is long before children to have been exposed to sex hormones enough to differentiate between them other than a wee little bit in the diaper.

I don't think that's true. I read somewhere recently that boys are exposed to puberty-levels of testosterone during certain stages of prenatal development.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 1:47 PM on June 19, 2013


I can certainly see a plausible mechanism for this. I suspect that becoming responsible for the health and welfare, in addition to loving, a daughter brings into focus a number of issues that were currently not a priority, or simply unknown, to some men. Sometimes that promotes the "cleaning the shotgun" approach and sometimes it creates a larger political motivation, depending on the individual humans involved. Essentially, it normalizes the needs of girls and women as valid in a way that may only be prioritized for some men because they are watching someone grow to adulthood in such an up close and personal way.
posted by Hopeful and Cynical at 1:50 PM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dick Cheney has two daughters

Honestly, I hate the man. For what it's worth, though, he DOES support gay marriage.
posted by orangutan at 1:51 PM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dick Cheney is certainly more liberal than The Penguin, the comic book character he's based on.
posted by klangklangston at 2:03 PM on June 19, 2013 [30 favorites]


Just witness the plethora of "Put your hands on my daughter and I'll shoot" bumper stickers.

Incidentally saw my very first one of these the other day, only it was a huge-ass red decal on the rear window of an SUV saying, and I quote:

GUNS
don't kill people
FATHER'S
who have daughter's
kill people

It's like the perfect storm of things designed to induce a transient ischemic attack.
posted by FelliniBlank at 2:04 PM on June 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


OMG including the grocer's apostrophes (shudder)
posted by sweetkid at 2:07 PM on June 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


The ownership of this trope goes both ways. Being a "momma's boy" is something shameful, and probably implicitly gay. Being a daughter with a protective father is either par for the course, or something to be proud of.
posted by Apropos of Something at 2:07 PM on June 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


The "shotgun" and "shovels" jokes are (whether you like them or not) socially acceptable methods of communicating that (necessary) message of "hey, you, i like you and will joke with you, but please don't rape my daughter."

I mean, I get this. But I also wonder whether the entangled message of "I'm not okay with the two of you getting busy" doesn't do more harm than good. I would kind of rather my hypothetical teenage daughter felt comfortable making out with her teenage boyfriend in her own house, knowing that her parents were close at hand (like in the Dutch system), than have her feel like she had no option but to make out with her boyfriend in the back seat of his car, somewhere far away from any remotely responsible adults.
posted by en forme de poire at 2:19 PM on June 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


In terms of actual boots-on-the-ground parenting, one can certainly provide a safe and open space for a daughter and her boyfriend to spend time with each other in the family home while simultaneously communicating a high level of concern for her welfare and safety to the sketchier variety of young gentleman callers.

Not by threatening actual shotgun murder, though. I defend the jokes as theraputic for the worried parents, not as an appropriate or effective regulator of teenage behavior.
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:29 PM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


My husband and I have 4 sons altogether. If we'd had a daughter we'd've had to move to Sweden or something.
posted by Biblio at 2:30 PM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I also wonder whether the entangled message of "I'm not okay with the two of you getting busy" doesn't do more harm than good.

You are probably right.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:31 PM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've heard people, mainly men, make these jokes about infant and newborn girls, though: "Oh, she's a real beauty, you're going to have to lock her up in a few years" or "You'll have to beat the boys with a stick to keep them away" or "What a doll, they'll be lining up to date her" etc. They don't usually say, ""Oh, you'll be sending her to engineering school someday" or "Look at those arms, she'll be a swimmer."

The gun/shovel remarks may right now resonate with people because of our greater awareness of sexual violence, which is possibly commendable, but the fact that these "protective father" comments are often the first or most popular or most cliche things many folks think of to say almost immediately when they meet babies strikes me as part of the problem since they focus on an infant or toddler solely in terms of her eventual sexual appeal or object/victim status; they reduce men's roles in women's lives to protector, predator, and sexual partner candidate.
posted by FelliniBlank at 2:31 PM on June 19, 2013 [14 favorites]


Can you point to research that supports this hypothesis. Thanks.

No, I cannot. Nor should I necessarily be required to. I'm not stating a scientific hypothesis; I'm stating an observation. AN observation that several people here have also seemed to have made. The possessiveness and sexism of "Daddy's little girls" and "my little princess" is a real thing.

Thanks, my daughter and I appreciate your sentiment.

I never said there couldn't be exceptions. I'm just describing the ridiculous behavior I repeatedly see. Most of the fathers of daughters I know and have more than a single conversation with -- with little exception -- get really creepy about this. Thank heavens there are exceptions, but that doesn't discount the phenomenon that seems to exist (see above examples).
posted by grubi at 2:33 PM on June 19, 2013


I've heard people, mainly men, make these jokes about infant and newborn girls, though: "Oh, she's a real beauty, you're going to have to lock her up in a few years" or "You'll have to beat the boys with a stick to keep them away" or "What a doll, they'll be lining up to date her" etc. They don't usually say, ""Oh, you'll be sending her to engineering school someday" or "Look at those arms, she'll be a swimmer."

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm going to keep making a fuss until parents stop perpetuating a culture in which there are more little girls who want to grow up to be princesses rather than there are little girls who want to grow up to be president.

I'm sure there's a pithier way of saying it.
posted by grubi at 2:39 PM on June 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


(And me screaming inside my head at the wrongness.)

Oh god, yes.
posted by grubi at 2:42 PM on June 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm going to keep making a fuss until parents stop perpetuating a culture in which there are more little girls who want to grow up to be princesses rather than there are little girls who want to grow up to be president.

In the meantime, we will continue to rear our sons and daughters in the way we best see fit. Carry on fussing.
posted by Tanizaki at 3:09 PM on June 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I may be missing something obvious (like the true source article which I tried to get to but I'm on a phone -augh- and it wouldn't load), but wouldn't the gender of the parent make a huge difference too?
posted by eralclare at 3:09 PM on June 19, 2013


I'm going to keep making a fuss until parents stop perpetuating a culture in which there are more little girls who want to grow up to be princesses rather than there are little girls who want to grow up to be president.

To be fair, princesses have a lot more perks and ultimately power than a president who can only serve for 8 years and must then do the talk-lecture-consultant gig.
posted by corb at 3:31 PM on June 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


Got to watch out for gender essentialism. Parents are better served reading up on teaching kids about consent, regardless of the gender identity of their child. Campus campaigns of "consent is sexy" and the Green Dot initiative increase safety. The "Yes Means Yes" book underscores some of this. Teach your children well.
posted by childofTethys at 4:02 PM on June 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Knowing where a joke like that falls on the retrograde-concept-of-virtue vs threat-of-bodily-harm spectrum is probably something you can suss out by knowing the person who made the joke, but not necessarily from the joke in itself.

It's kind of hard to find cites for this in particular, but I'm not alone in thinking that the whole father-with-shotgun trope comes from "don't have sex with my daughter, I know that's what you want to do, I was a teenage boy too." You can see this in a million sitcom first date scenarios.


posted by sweetkid at 4:16 PM on June 19 [2 favorites +] [!]


regarding this comment of mine earlier, hey look now that I'm home from work it is easy to find cites for this trope, at least in media:

Overprotective Dad:

You know this guy. You might even BE this guy, if you're a father. (Or you WILL grow into one, when you have a little girl.) Well aware of the sex-obsessed horndogs that teenage guys can be — probably because he was one — the Overprotective Dad wants to protect his daughter from being exploited. Unfortunately, he tends to take it all too far, holding the Eight Simple Rules For Dating My Teenaged Daughter as his personal bible.

Also:

Ironically, if he has a son, he may even applaud or encourage him if he treats girls in the exact way he doesn't want other guys to treat his own daughter.


and

Depending on how this is played and how much you want to dissect it, there is a lot of potential for Unfortunate Implications with this trope. It can carry all of the same problems as My Girl Is Not a Slut and - if done badly - may imply that the woman in question is less an agent of her own destiny than her male relatives or, worse yet, that she's somehow their property.

So.
posted by sweetkid at 4:14 PM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's like the perfect storm of things designed to induce a transient ischemic attack.

There are no "emphasis quotes" or misspelled contractions, but it's mighty close.
posted by Foosnark at 4:47 PM on June 19, 2013


Hey I know, how about only those who have whatever you think are correct views on gender, sexuality, politics, and morality be allowed to have daughters?

(Works for any value of "you.")
posted by spitbull at 5:37 PM on June 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I like the advert next to the article “Keep our service men and women safe. Tell Congress: Protect our troops from sexual assault.”

Heh. Irony's mighty thick today.

“You know, to kill and bury the boys who want to date them.”
…like, what, a bad thing?

“Something about men with daughters turns them even more possessive and objectifying.”

I think a lot of men don’t know how they’re supposed to relate to their daughters. I was urged to go to a “Daddy-Daughter Dance” a bit ago. I can say without hyperbole that it was one of the worst experiences of my life. (To be clear: I’ve been shot, stabbed, burned, broken major bones, been blown up, starved, beaten and drowned) It’s not waterboarding, but I would think about it for a second there.

It was like a simulacrum. A complete conflation of commercialized eroticism with molestation hysteria. The dads and kids were 10 feet away from each other, but dancing to club music. Sexual tension and moral anxiety reduction and defense mechanism as understood by robots.
But I don’t think the protection thing is a problem unless it’s a problem. That is, in and of itself. Past healthy tension diffusing to obsessive.

I have no idea where I am on the political spectrum. None. I favor some extraordinarily conservative ideas, but I favor some liberal ideas that make Ralph Nader look like Mussolini.
This, I have no idea WTF “liberal” is supposed to mean. I don’t know why teen access to contraception is a contentious idea concerning gender and politics unless the implication is that people think it’s ok for their sons to impregnate someone and take a walk.
And perhaps for some folks (typically fanatics) that’s the practical upshot they’ve blinded themselves to.
But…

If people were staring and loudly commenting on the body features of my sons, if they had to be cautious about who they dated because they might get sexually assaulted, had to worry about putting their drink down because they might get drugged, had to worry about being socially ostracized if they spoke up or pressed charges, if volumes were written about how to lie to them and get them in bed (is there a “Game”/ seduction community analogue in gay culture? IDK. Just curious – doesn’t matter as I think it’s not the gender or orientation that matters but the objectification) if there were constant internet advertisements, if intimacy were a dirty word when thinking about them, if – etc. etc. etc.

Yeah, I’d be cleaning the shotgun on the table when the boys’ dates arrived too.

But as it is, as I’ve mentioned a while back, I’ve never needed to go to that level.
What I don’t understand, what I’ve never understood is acceptance of that disparity. Again (as I’ve said here a bit back) perhaps it’s because it never happens around me. But too, I never let it happen. It's rote for me to not tolerate catcalls and the like. So I don't think about it.

I was swimming in the lake today and I saw a guy who apparently couldn’t control himself enough to not stare at a girl. I can empathize. People who are attractive are attractive and draw the eye on the other hand there’s that and there’s making someone uncomfortable. And her body language indicated she was uncomfortable.
I was a good distance away. All I did was frown at him. He left.

Countless examples of this for me. I don’t know if some parents don’t teach self-restraint to their boys or how that works. I’m not versed in feminist theory on male gaze. None of this.
Just a reference of information towards making (an otherwise simple) point.

I know that male elephants control adolescent male elephants. I know plenty of adolescent animals that don’t learn self-control from other older animals continue this behavior and it can get them killed. Sociality, in an animals life, changes as it changes it’s behavior to reflect changes in its lifestyle. So – whether it reproduces successfully means different things. Its life as a juvenile (if it has that period) vs. its life as an adult. A prime example in the news if you’re not around animals a lot were the young male elephants killing rhinoceros at the Pilanesberg game reserve. There were no big adult bulls so the young males had no idea how to act – even in nature – much less elephant society.

And human behavior isn’t so simple that it can be directly tied to animal behavior, I know.
But – the idea that there are some that tolerate deviant behavior and some that enforce sociality.

I don’t know what “liberal” or “conservative” is supposed to be on that scale, but I know that this is the measure (very, very basically put) when it comes to mating and reproduction.
I’m not sure about the accuracy of the study, but I think the political labels are too subjective to be useful, at least as far as this issue goes.

In terms of contraception, working families flexibility, etc – I think fathers of girls have to be more aware of their local environment and more sensitive to changes that affect their offspring whereas the fathers of boys tend to assume the boys will be more exogenous.
So take another fairly intelligent social animal (I like elephants for humans here) – we don’t apply those political terms to their thinking.

And again, it’s a crude extrapolation, but is a male elephant going to be more aware of endogeny, that is, internal generation, if it has a baby girl elephant as opposed to a boy? Well, yeah.

At it’s most crude, it can’t mate with the boy. The herd benefits from the boys leaving the herd to mate. Progeny benefits from having in-system protection. In this case, a 10-ton dad with tusks.

All that to say, I think the problem with people who act (or in this case vote) otherwise is that they have the luxury of a complex enough society that can afford artificial disparities and they blind themselves to supporting those.
So for me, “liberal” here is a word supposed to mean “not willfully ignorant and self-destructive.”
Which, duh.

But y’know, there are idiots who support honor killings, supported cutting of the rose, all that. All kinds of ways to deny reality beyond politics.

But a species that doesn't protect its progeny is headed for extinction. If that makes me George Clooney, so be it.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:56 PM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


man, that was poorly written. Sorry. Bit tired. Here study. Me go sleep now.
posted by Smedleyman at 6:05 PM on June 19, 2013


Hey I know, how about only those who have whatever you think are correct views on gender, sexuality, politics, and morality be allowed to have daughters?

Well, obviously! It would be pointless to even have this discussion if I were not interested in determining which parents should be allowed to reproduce.

As far as penalties go, parents who insisted on defying me could perhaps be made into a very large hamburger.
posted by en forme de poire at 6:20 PM on June 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have such a painful mixed feeling about the whole overprotective-dad "cleaning the shotgun" trope.

My dad never did that kind of thing. It seemed he never quite believed I was a girl, sometimes. He encouraged me, praised me, everything I needed. I love him very much.

He wasn't there when they were.

When I was a teenager, I never thought he would protect me in that kind of trouble. I only thought he would be baffled, then blame me for getting into a Situation. It never occurred to me that I was his princess, or that he would shoot anybody on my account. I wish it had. I know now that he would have done anything for me, but at the time, I felt entirely alone.

Today, I have brain problem situations which are not unrelated to things that happened when I was a teenager. For this reason, along with many others which are much better, I will probably not get around to having children before the clock runs out. But if I did, I would want my daughter's father to be vigilant and to make them feel protected. It is so, so important that a girl feels she has allies.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:24 PM on June 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I might wish I lived in a society where I didn't have to: but until then I will cheerfully start posting shooting targets up on the walls and talk guns, guns, guns, when a fellow comes over. And hope, hope to god, that somehow it will take.

I suppose if you're into your daughter's beaus thinking that you're completely psychotic, and thus untrustworthy, and you're fine with not having a respectful relationship with them, I guess that's fine. I suspect, however, that when Corbette starts dating and you actually do pull this, you're going to have a very rocky relationship with her.

Younger Monster's girlfriend's family tried this with him for about a minute. He wasn't having it, and asked her father "What kind of a barbarian do you take me for?" It brought him up short, and her father actually had the good grace to apologize, but it took a long time for Younger Monster to want to have a cordial relationship with them and start inviting her family to functions at our house. (This has never been an issue with Elder Monster and Monsterette's family - I went to college with Monsterette's Dad, the Maus went to high school with her Mom. We were delighted when the kids wanted to introduce us and found that we already knew each other. Their wedding, if they ever bother, is going to be a scream.)

From personal experience, I find treating your kid's SO as a human being works beautifully, and is way more effective than threats of violence. In particular, it shows your own kid that you're accessible, reasonable, and trustworthy, and it will make her more likely to come to you for advice if things aren't quite working out.
posted by MissySedai at 6:36 PM on June 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


not that anyone asked but I now feel really terrible about my comment, as if I was suggesting that my dad was not a good enough dad. He is best dad. He just thought I had more sense than I did when I was a girl.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:48 PM on June 19, 2013


I find having a daughter has made me more conservative because she is an intelligent conversationalist and makes some good points.
posted by michaelh at 7:40 PM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


not that anyone asked but I now feel really terrible about my comment, as if I was suggesting that my dad was not a good enough dad. He is best dad. He just thought I had more sense than I did when I was a girl.

don't feel terrible. by sharing that story, you're helping me learn where the boundary is between supporting my daughter indirectly but giving her independence and letting her know I'm always there directly when she needs me -- a difficult boundary to learn, so thanks
posted by davejay at 7:49 PM on June 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Countess Elena, it's a perfectly valid comment. Great Dads can have clueless moments. Parents all have clay feet. It's easier to hug a parent whose feet are on the ground, or who can step down from a realistic pedestal. You've reminded me if the importance of connection (keep talking) and if anything happens to one of my kiddos, to assure them that they are young and learning, and to support accountability for the offender as needed. My Dad was ahead of his time with organic gardening and raising rabbits in the 70's, but dating & relating...was more generational than in synch.
posted by childofTethys at 8:04 PM on June 19, 2013


From personal experience, I find treating your kid's SO as a human being works beautifully, and is way more effective than threats of violence. In particular, it shows your own kid that you're accessible, reasonable, and trustworthy, and it will make her more likely to come to you for advice if things aren't quite working out.

The problem with personal experience is that it varies so much.

My father had no sons; because of that, he treated me more as one. I didn't have an overprotective father; I had a father who chatted with my boyfriends. Who was friendly with them. Who treated them, as you say, like human beings. He never threatened them with violence. He never told me he would do violence on my behalf. He cheered me on when I dated.

They did not always treat me like a human being. When that happened, I didn't feel comfortable going to my father. Because I didn't feel he was on my side. Because he was friendly to the man who had hurt me and I didn't trust him to believe me and not the other guy, the congenial one, the one who joked and laughed with him. I didn't trust him to bar the guy from the door.

You are the mother of sons; I am a former daughter who is now the mother of a daughter. We have different priorities. And I would wager that it is just possible that our children might react differently.

If she asks me to stop, I will stop. But I want Corbette to always know that I am on her side against the world. That no person she brings to our door will ever be of more value in my eyes than she. That I would fight anyone necessary on her behalf, in whatever way and however she desires.

And it's possible some of those other parents might be feeling exactly the same.
posted by corb at 8:25 PM on June 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


Might a possible causality issue have to do with conservative parents of daughters wanting to 'keep trying' for a son, or liberal parents of sons wanting to 'keep trying' for a daughter?
posted by moorooka at 8:52 PM on June 19, 2013


Some of us with daughters find it inescapable how otherwise normal people go insane for their sons' supposed ultra-masculinity, right from infanthood, expressed in coded ways.

I've spoken to mums who told me with feigned anguish that they simply couldn't clip their son's fingernails because he'd lash out and it was impossible - aged 9 months. Others tell you that their teen boys are basically rampaging animals who must eat everything in the fridge, every day, and oh isn't it awful tee hee.

Makes me miserable for these boys, and more sympathetic than usual towards my 70s Marxist mum who was having none of this crap when I was a boy.
posted by colie at 1:09 AM on June 20, 2013 [7 favorites]


Most of us only have direct experience of child rearing in our own narrow social class demographic.

And boy does it show here.
posted by spitbull at 1:13 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Interesting that the paper itself finds the effect is of equal scale for boys and girls:
The paper finds evidence that having daughters makes people more sympathetic to left-wing parties. Acquiring sons, by contrast, makes individuals more right-wing. Ceteris paribus, in our panel data, every extra daughter (or son) leads a person to be approximately 2 percentage points more likely to vote Left (or Right)
It's as true to say the "Having Sons Rather Than Daughters Makes You More Conservative" as it is to say "Having Daughters Rather Than Sons Makes You More Liberal". But the paper is titled "Daughters and Left-Wing Voting" not "Sons and Right-Wing Voting".

Interesting how the links and titles seem to imply that girls have some kind of distorting effect on a normative male/right-wing default state, when the study finds the effect works both ways.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 5:39 AM on June 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


I've spoken to mums who told me with feigned anguish that they simply couldn't clip their son's fingernails because he'd lash out and it was impossible - aged 9 months. Others tell you that their teen boys are basically rampaging animals who must eat everything in the fridge, every day, and oh isn't it awful tee hee.

I share your dismay at this sort of thing.

I have one of each. One of the main themes of my family's child rearing is subduing of the passions and delaying gratification. My kids both know of the marshmallow experiment and at least once I have heard my daughter remind her older brother when she thinks he is up to no good, "two marshmallows!" Running amok is not part of being a boy or a girl (or a man or woman). I think those parents of "rampaging animals" are swinging the pendulum too hard in the other direction from the wimpification of kids.
posted by Tanizaki at 6:53 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


But I want Corbette to always know that I am on her side against the world. That no person she brings to our door will ever be of more value in my eyes than she. That I would fight anyone necessary on her behalf, in whatever way and however she desires.

You don't think you can accomplish this without perpetuating the tired and frankly revolting trope of "Girls need to be protected, boys are wild animals who need to be threatened with violence"?

Hey, you do you. Me, I'm going to keep treating all the kids who walk through my doors as human beings, worthy of respect and trust, until they give me reason to think otherwise.

Makes me miserable for these boys, and more sympathetic than usual towards my 70s Marxist mum who was having none of this crap when I was a boy.

Geez. I know very few mothers who let/encourage their boys to run wild, and that's probably a good thing, because I'd have some women all up in my grill for pulling their boys aside and teaching them proper behavior. "Hypermasculinity" has never flown at my house, ever.
posted by MissySedai at 7:53 AM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I agree that the proper message ("don't force women into sexual activity") is something young men need to hear repeatedly, but I can't imagine meeting my daughter's boyfriend and saying, "Now have fun you too, but hey, Johnny, please don't rape her." mrgrimm

First, I apologize for the heteronormativity here, and for not being careful to be gender neutral here. Boys do not only assault girls. Sometimes girls assault boys.

There's a lot going on in these messages about shotguns and shovels. As has been mentioned, one problem is that they don't generally distinguish between consensual and non-consensual activities. They also include things like "touch my daughter and I will kill you." Well. For the adolescent mind, if just touching a person carries the risk of the worse punishment, might as well go all the way, right? And then when touching doesn't get a boy caught/in trouble, consequences are all but out the window.

Another thing that's going on is that this "touch my daughter and I'll kill you" become an "us versus Dad" type of encounter. We're touching each other and it's fun and naughty and daddy would be so mad. So now the young couple is a team. And the daughter has done things her father would not be happy about. Things she certainly wouldn't want to discuss with her father. This is where pushy boys (and men) gain traction. This is where young girls (and women) who don't want to go further, or who want to halt the activity run into trouble. They don't want to be seen as slutty. They don't want to get in trouble. They don't want the boy to get his clock cleaned. This boy likes them. Etc. Etc. Resisting has it's downsides. Resisting and getting raped definitely has it's downsides.

It is no accident that lots and lots of rapes are unreported, and that lots and lots of victims of sexual assault do not identify the incident as assault. And I think it has a great deal to do with the reluctance illustrated in the quote above. If more parents could say those words, it would stop a lot of shit. First, because it would signal to the boys directly that parents will believe and act on their daughters' reports of assault. It acknowledges that some level of exploration might happen. And it places responsibility to not rape on the persons most likely to assault.

Yes. It's hard to say. But many of the most important things in life are hard. Having conversations with daughters about agency and the reality that you will always be there for them is also hard, but important. If you are the parent that can receive a 3am phone call from a party, go retrieve your kid and not bring a rein of terror as a result, you might hear more about these situations before they become disasters. If you are the parent who can help a kid learn from their mistakes, and differentiate between shame(a sense that something is wrong with you) and guilt(knowing that the thing you did was bad/hurtful/inappropriate, but that you are still a valuable and loved person) you are protecting your kid from a lot of shit, including problematic alcohol and drug use.

If you look at Liberal and Conservative attitudes toward a lot of topics (especially social welfare) you can guess which side is more shame focused and which side is more guilt focused. When recipients of welfare are described as "lazy," when immigrants are described as "aliens" who have "anchor babies," and when only some rapes are "legitimate," the shame is palpable.

So where this takes me, is that women are often held accountable for the results of their actions in ways that men are not. We are trained not to hurt other people's feelings. We are instructed in the ways of providing comfort. We are taught not to rock the boat and not to expect too much from others. Women are taught to take care of our communities and men are taught to take care of themselves/their smaller sphere. To take what they can get and to expedt others to serve them. Guess which of these tends to be a more liberal teaching, and guess how much teaching something ingrains it into our brains?

I'll wait.
posted by bilabial at 9:07 AM on June 20, 2013 [11 favorites]


I know very few mothers who let/encourage their boys to run wild

That's not quite the point I'm trying to make... it's more that just simple behaviour that could be part of any kid's development (boy or girl) such as eating the last stuff in the fridge is given the whole 'boys will be boys what can you do' attitude rather more than I expected from otherwise enlightened parents.
posted by colie at 9:11 AM on June 20, 2013


As has been mentioned, one problem is that they don't generally distinguish between consensual and non-consensual activities

Yes, there is a difference between consensual and non-consensual activity. In my state, no one under the age of 16 can consent. If something happens below that age, it is not an issue of facing angry parents but of facing the local authorities.
posted by Tanizaki at 11:27 AM on June 20, 2013


bilabial, I MeLove you. That was beautiful.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:04 PM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, there is a difference between consensual and non-consensual activity. In my state, no one under the age of 16 can consent. If something happens below that age, it is not an issue of facing angry parents but of facing the local authorities.

I think this is sort of orthogonal to the point that bilabial was making, which has more to do with consent as understood between the two people having sex. But I think this is actually a good example of how the fatherly-shotgun-cleaning response to teenage sexuality is so ingrained: in some states, the government has effectively been drafted into the same role. Much like the shotgun-cleaning, I don't doubt that there are some good intentions behind these laws, like reducing teen pregnancy and the burden of single motherhood, but I think it's worth questioning whether this is the most humane or even the most effective response to teenage sexuality.
posted by en forme de poire at 1:29 PM on June 20, 2013


Having conversations with daughters about agency and the reality that you will always be there for them is also hard, but important. If you are the parent that can receive a 3am phone call from a party, go retrieve your kid and not bring a rein of terror as a result, you might hear more about these situations before they become disasters.

Yes, yes, YES!

My Opa's rule with me was "Peach, I've always got your back. I don't care where you are, I don't care what time it is, I don't care what is going on. If you need me, I will come." And he did. He never did the "I have a gun" nonsense with any of my dates. Never "joked" about baseball bats or shovels. Never even threatened to beat their asses. He was cordial and hospitable, in that gruff ex-Army way that certain men of his age had, and all of my dates loved him. He could have made a big show of "RAWR, I will protect her, RAWR!", but he didn't. He had already made it clear to me that he trusted me to make good choices, including to call him at any time of the day or night if things went all pear-shaped. The two times that I had to take him up on it, he asked me if I was OK (I was), if I wanted to talk about it (I did) and if I wanted him to go bust some heads (I didn't)...and that was that. Not even a raised eyebrow.

We have done the same with the Monsters - and with their girlfriends and their friends. It's more important for your kids to know that you have their backs than it is to try to frighten their dates into keeping their hands to themselves. Making it clear to your kids that you have their backs, always, without question, judgement, or punishment makes them a hell of a lot safer than talking about your gun.
posted by MissySedai at 3:15 PM on June 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


Making it clear to your kids that you have their backs, always, without question, judgement, or punishment makes them a hell of a lot safer than talking about your gun.

What makes you think that the two must be separate?

Again, I don't have sons. You don't have daughters. We have different goals. Which is kind of what the FPP is about, in a lot of ways - that people with daughters take (political) actions to protect their daughters, while people with sons take (politica) actions to protect their sons.

I don't care how hurt someone else's sons are - how offended they are, how much they chafe under the idea that they are an enemy to be guarded against. I don't care if they think I view them as wild animals, incapable of humanity. I don't care if they are scared, or worried. I don't care if it makes them angry and makes them never want to invite me to their house. They are simply not my priority - just as legislatively, I care about girls having access to safe birth control, the ability to abort whether or not the guy is okay with it, and the legal ability to cut abusive assholes out of their lives. I care about this more than I care about boys being sad because the girl aborted or didn't abort against their wishes, or because they can't see their kid because they hit its mother.

I care about my daughter and I do make it clear that I always have her back, without judgment or punishment, when she needs it. But there are also times when she relishes having parents she has complete confidence will keep her physically safe. Will defend her person with physical force if necessary. And that's what works for our family and will continue to work for our family, regardless of what the parents of sons tell me.

You seem upset about how the parents of YoungerMonster's girlfriend treated your son. And because of that, you think they behaved wrongly. But their priority is and was not your son. They don't have to look out for him - that's your job. They don't have to care about his feelings. You think it will affect the relationships girls have with their parents - but you're not in those households, to make those decisions, so where do you come up with that data?
posted by corb at 9:18 AM on June 21, 2013


I don't care if they think I view them as wild animals, incapable of humanity.

This is a broad and very uncharitable brush. And this kind of attitude that men should be ok with being perceived as not capable of being reasonable is very damaging to women and men alike. It puts a huge burden on potential victims to constantly expect that men will be abusive, and it puts no burden on men to act decently. Because if they can't handle temptation, or are hardwired to want nothing so much as they want a piece of ass, why should they even try to be nice? Why shouldn't they just try to take whatever they can get?

Bullshit. Men are perfectly capable.

The stance that they are simply not your priority is also damaging because it begs the question of why should your daughters be the priority of any other parent. The answer is because assault is wrong and boys ought to be very clearly taught that. But if your daughter is not someone else's priority, then that lesson is far less likely to be taught. And you are left with only your gun to defend her.

Ounce of prevention, pound of cure. Treat young men as though they are humane and capable of choosing the noble path, show them that the paths are watched, and give all our kids some tools for navigating.

Additionally, your stance is very focused on your daughter, but not on the millions of other daughters out there who do not have parents willing to go to the lengths that you are. These wild animals, incapable of humanity, where do you think they'll go when they are done with your daughter? Well, of course, you're hoping the answer is "an early grave," but that's unlikely. They're going to someone else's daughter.

Shame is not an effective tactic for dealing with behavior. Teaching men that we expect no better from them is even less effective.
posted by bilabial at 11:37 AM on June 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


Shame is not an effective tactic for dealing with behavior.

I am curious to know where this idea comes from.
posted by Tanizaki at 12:11 PM on June 21, 2013


I posted this link earlier.

In saying that it's not effective, I was being a bit reductionist. Shame creates more problems than it solves, but of course it has short term effects on immediate behavior. (One of those is to become even better at hiding the undesirable activity, instead of actually no longer doing the harmful/inappropriate thing.)

See also: everything by Brene Brown. Shame is a powerful tool of disconnection and is harmful.
posted by bilabial at 12:26 PM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't care if they think I view them as wild animals, incapable of humanity.

Well, that's obvious.

And asinine. Yes, I think outright threatening violence (or implying that you will do violence) is stupid, wrongheaded, and ultimately damaging. It's not about the kids' fee-fees, it's about the parents supposedly being the adults and acting like it.

You can teach your daughter that you have her back without banging your chest like Tarzan and engaging in "OOOK! Me KILL you, you touch precious girl! OOOK!" gorilla behaviors.

Like I said, you do you. If it makes you feel good to act like a savage and you think that's effective, well, you get on with your bad self. I'm still going to expect ALL of the young men and young women who fill my house on the daily to act like civilized human beings, and will continue to expect it until they show me otherwise.
posted by MissySedai at 5:07 PM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you are the parent that can receive a 3am phone call from a party, go retrieve your kid and not bring a rein of terror as a result, you might hear more about these situations before they become disasters.

Totally. My father, flawed as he was, had a simple rule: we each got one. One late-night, any-reason, no-questions-asked phone call to come get rescued. That first one would never be spoken of. The second? Holy hell was promised.

None of us ever had to use the first. Or at least, if my sisters used it, he kept mum about it as promised, because my mother and I certainly have no idea.

[insert Family Guy Spider Man "everybody gets one" image here]

Oh, and my son just got in trouble at school for telling a girl to shake her ass. I'm pleased to report the girl complained to a teacher -- yay girl! -- and it gave me a great chance to sit down and make it clear that as a boy who will soon be a man he doesn't get to touch girls' bodies, say things about girls' bodies or tell girls what to do with their bodies, period, unless they give him permission. He took it very seriously. Hopefully this sort of thing will help him be one of the good ones.
posted by davejay at 9:23 PM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Making it clear to your kids that you have their backs, always, without question, judgement, or punishment makes them a hell of a lot safer than talking about your gun.

What makes you think that the two must be separate?


This.
They often aren't.

I think there's a point to be made that the 'shotgun' approach is often used as an excuse by lazy parents. Much as hitting can be to behavior modification.

(And in many ways talking about the 'shotgun' is an expression of tension and loss of control. And mostly psychic presentiment, not too many people actually do it.
Offhand only one comes to mind is Gary Plauche who shot the karate instructor who molested his boy. Plauche didn't do a day in jail.)

By the same token the idea that there are no lengths to which you will not go for your kid, up to and including murder, can be healthy in some respects. I mean, if Pops will kill someone for me, surely calling home drunk at 3 am isn't that bad.

The devil is in the details and the execution of course. You actually have to plug in.

My kids have a pretty clear idea of "whatever - whenever" from me. Explicitly, but even in incidentals.
We were talking at dinner about a kid who 'came out' to his parents a while back. I got really bent out of shape that his parents didn't back him up. Who chooses vague notions of social and moral forthrightness over their child? Apparently some assholes have and do.

Reminds me of Thompson - a man who has blown all his options can’t afford the luxury of changing his ways. He has to capitalize on whatever he has left, and he can’t afford to admit — no matter how often he’s reminded of it — that every day of his life takes him farther and farther down a blind alley...

Those kinds of people tend to think authority lay outside themselves or in terms of hierarchy being self-justifying.

When my kids are young we talk about touching their body, etc. Can a teacher touch you? No. How about a doctor? Yes. What if it's a doctor not in the doctors office or hospital? No.

When it comes to "can *I* touch you"? I make sure they know they have certain rights even when it comes to my wife and I. Not even your parents have the right to do certain things to you. And they feel comfortable in telling me anything. We consistently punish for untruthfulness, but not for making mistakes. And we don't ask "why" when they screw up. Own it, fix it and move on.

And in many ways, and in many other things, that kind of thing has made them more responsible and conscientious.

Not only that I've got their back no matter what, but I also expect them to get their own backs in spite of me if I am wrong.

Too many people act as though being a parent makes them God on the Throne to their kids rather than part of their lives.

But that's the thing, authority is participatory. It binds (or is supposed to) the one wielding it as much as the one who takes the orders.
You have authority, but they too have authority which grants them certain rights. Such as the right to call you at 3 am instead of driving drunk and risking death.

But there are people who - and they don't always show it - don't buy in to communal/familial authority or the right to self-autonomy, they don't accept your authority to give orders or your kids authority over their own bodies and right to say no.

For that you typically have to make clear you're willing to use force to compel them to respect those. Sometimes you can spot those kids. Sometimes you can't.

But there's nothing wrong with having the rep in that case their parents aren't doing their jobs. It's your responsibility as a parent to support an equitable system. That takes many forms depending on the culture, other parents, etc.

So yeah, definitely, being there and being there in the right way. I think about Penn state - how many failures did there have to be to have that occur? Many.
But mostly the culture. Not just the drinking, football, etc, but the placing of those ideas/bodies of thinking ahead of the welfare of children.
To have a cover up, someone has to, y'know, cover it up.

I think davejay's opinion is very healthy. Boys will be boys and they have to be taught when they make mistakes. Otherwise they won't learn. And who else is going to teach them?

As with so many things, it's the silence and artifice that does the damage.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:32 PM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


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