Apparently Actually Listening to Women is a Superpower
These last two weeks I found myself a minor celebrity for the second time in my life, assuming that receiving mild fame for writing a love song to David Arquette counted as fame the first time of course. It was all about a brief article I wrote that went over advice I wanted to give my daughter about sex instead of lessons pushed by the purity and abstinence-only education groups. It was just a list of ten basic things along the lines of wait till you're ready, be wary of people trying to use shame to control you, protection is your friend, be open and honest, and most of all I love you no matter what.
Despite a life full of all kinds of wacky adventures, I am a strangely naïve person. For instance, I honestly thought Anti-Semitism no longer existed in America. No really, I thought it was gone like polio. I had similar misconceptions about the sheer number of people involved in the purity movement. I thought it was a few folks going hardline on the fringes.
I was wrong. I received hundreds, maybe thousands of comments, emails, friends on Facebook, messages, you name it. Just a flood of female readers sending me variations on, "Thank God someone is saying this," "I can't tell you how much I wish someone had told me this," and more depressingly, "I wish I'd had a dad like you."
That last one stayed with me because in the end the reason I wrote the piece actually had little to do with my daughter at all. I can't guarantee life won't beat me into mental instability and cruelty between now and her physical maturity. No man quests for the Rod of Asshole-Being. I hope I keep my best intentions in front of me as far as she is concerned.
No the real reason I wrote the piece is much simpler... I read the words of a woman that had grown up in the purity movement and it made me very sad. Then I read another. Then another.
I find that increasingly as I am around what I will term the wrong kind of men their problems seem to stem from a very important failing. They seem utterly incapable of simply asking themselves, "How does what I am doing affect the people I am doing it to?"
It is amazing to me how little this question gets asked even at the top levels where vast societal judgments are being enacted. When the Texas legislature was taking its stand against women's reproductive health, it wasn't even the fact that they so obviously were trying to shut down all the abortion clinics in Texas by whatever way they could.
No, it was that as woman after woman came up to tell their story, tell why they'd had an abortion or care they'd received from the clinics or birth control or any one of the dozens of reason that women use places like Planned Parenthood, the assorted men in the capital merely rolled their eyes and looked bored.