My son is 9 and my daughter is 7. They’re getting to the ages where I’m starting to get concerned about how the choices they make will affect their lives, my daughter in particular. Not because I see something wrong in anything with her, but because I remember all the dumb ass things I did and if fathers knew what their daughters were really doing… let’s just say there is not enough wine in the Napa Valley to help me cope.
And it’s a daunting responsibility to teach my daughter to be the best woman she can be based on her intelligence and not on how she looks (she’s gorgeous by the way and I’m not just saying that because I’m her father!)
I was listening to the radio this morning on the way to work; a particular morning team based in Philly that I have been listening to for years. And although I love 90% of what they do, there’s the 10% of the show that focuses on strip clubs/hot women/boobs etc. that I’m not all that fond of. In my twenties that kind of stuff piqued my interest but now, it just makes me feel creepy. And as I get older it amazes me more and more that women in this day and age would subject themselves to being strippers or posing nude in Playboy, which was the subject of this morning’s radio show: an interview with a local Philly girl who appears in next month’s issue as Playmate of the Month.
The interview was of course extremely juvenile, peppered with questions about the current state of her pubic hair, the authenticity of her breasts, and what actors she was dating now that she’s “famous”. She, of course, had the prerequisite “helium-pitched voice” (What is it with that anyway? Does that just automatically develop once you have a naked photo taken of you or is it faked because that is what women are taught men want? I doubt Marie Curie sounded like Alvin the Chipmunk.) She had a non-surprising work history: the flirty bartender, the country club cart girl who danced in the sand traps, etc. - she basically sounded like someone who lived off her looks her whole life. And how did she end up in Playboy? Her regular bar customers encouraged her. No doubt concerned that bartending was a dead end career path and for the security of her future she should explore something more suited to her talents. I wonder why they weren’t encouraging her to go back to school? I’m sure it had nothing at all to do with the fact that Playboy would be the only way they would ever see her naked!
The interview left me feeling sorry for her. She’s probably making more money than I’ll ever see, but I felt sorry for her. And that’s my problem. Is this young woman a product of male sexual dominance or is she empowered? Is she being victimized or has she truly taken the reins of her life with confidence and strength and I’m just projecting my own issues onto her?
I’m no angel by any means. I look at beautiful women (hell, I look at beautiful men! Beauty is beauty!). I’ve watched porn, I’ve gone to strip clubs, and I’ve had my share of romantic indiscretions based purely on physicality. But I like to think I’ve grown and evolved to the point where I appreciate women on a more mature level. Don’t get me wrong, if the doorbell rang and Diane Lane stood before me my eyes would pop out of my skull like a Looney Tunes character! But I find there is a line I won’t cross anymore out of respect for my wife, my kids, women in general and for myself. (And that line seems to get more prude-ish the older I get!).
One thing that Miss August mentioned was how proud her dad was of her. Really? Is her dad a Lohan? I’d like to think I’d love my daughter regardless of what she does, but choosing to appear naked in a magazine that is purchased for the sole purpose of ogling women (and the other stuff that is done while looking at those kind of pictures!), I just don’t think I could be proud of my child for doing that. I want her to be empowered by her mind, not her body.
I've heard the argument that women who embrace their physicality and use it to their advantage are the true feminists. It’s the women who try to de-gender the sexes so that men and women are the same that are the misogynists.
Here’s what I think. Any empowerment a woman (or a man for that matter) gains from a purely sexual pursuit is misguided. True self-respect cannot be attained by being used. Let’s face it, if you take off your clothes to pose for Playboy or do porn or even work at Hooters you are being put in a subservient position under men. I don’t care how much you cry out that you’re in control and it’s your choice and you’re just free with your body and sexuality and you’re financially secure, you’re being used. To me, sexual empowerment exists only by not being used for your sexuality.
But that is just my opinion. If a young woman is happy and healthy and secure then who am I to say that she’s wrong in how she gets that way? Well, I’ll tell you who I am: