My eyeballs are burning right now, I’m so angry.
I was poking around ConvergeMagazine.com and saw a link for “Why guys need ‘the talk’“. Thinking it might be an insightful article about talking to boys about sex, I clicked on it. Nope. Instead, it’s an article by Sam McLoughlin about why he believes that every father should have the “don’t hurt my daughter” talk with his daughter’s boyfriends.
The article is laced with harmful, misogynistic, backwards logic. I’ve pulled out the best bits for you below, and by best I mean the WORST.
“She deserves a man who will fight for her, and until a boyfriend proves his worth, that job belongs to her father.”
First of all, this is standard hetero-Men-Are-Strong-Women-Are-Weak bullshit. The idea that men need to protect women while they cower in fear and weakness keeps women being viewed as property rather than autonomous human beings. As if daughters are family heirlooms that have to be passed from one deserving owner to the next. It upholds the idea that a “real man” solves problems and feelings by physical altercation. The “be a man” theme (barf) runs through the entire article.
People should look out for each other. I’ve looked out for female friends that had a few too many on our night out. I’ve physically protected my younger sisters from bullies. I’ve had my boyfriends’ backs. I have (somehow! magically!) stood up for and protected myself. Protecting, defending and fighting are not the exclusive domain of men. Those activities belong to anyone who loves and can find strength in that love. Women don’t need a male guardian of their hearts and vaginas. We don’t need a male escort everywhere we go making sure that nothing disturbs our delicate sensibilities.
Heartbreak and bad decisions are a crucial part of life and learning. If we have men blocking us from these experiences, they might as well take away reading and education from us, too. You can’t develop the wherewithal to set boundaries (or even know what your boundaries are!) if you have always been sheltered from life experience. Love hurts, it fucking sucks sometimes, and that’s part of the experience of being alive. Taking that away from a woman robs her ability to be a fully alive, fully invested human being. You take away her ability to become stronger, more assured, to know herself better.
Daddies protecting their “little girls” (ugh ugh ugh shudder gross ugh) from ever experiencing pain is just an attempt to keep them “pure” and “little” forever. It infantilizes women and takes away our autonomy. It also suggests that the father has the responsibility of choosing an acceptable partner for his daughter, robbing her of that choice and setting us back to an age where marriages where arranged by fathers in exchange for dowries.
“While trying to keep the relationship going smooth, a girl often will not stand up for herself and set clear boundaries. And if there’s one thing about us guys that’s pretty consistent, it’s that we like to break boundaries, not make boundaries.”
Ugh god. So, not only is McLoughlin sounding a bit rape-y here, he is also insinuating that females are incapable of standing up for themselves or setting boundaries. What a bunch of fragile flowers we are! Thank goodness we have daddies to swoop in and bat our boyfriends’ urgent penises away since we don’t have the strength in our willowy, man-pleasing arms to do it ourselves!
Can young women have issues setting boundaries? Sure. Can young men have issues respecting boundaries? Sure. But this is a result of thinking that this is how it is, boys will be boys, etc., instead of having talks with our kids when they are young so girls can learn it’s ok to say no and mean it, and boys can learn that anything except an enthusiastic yes! is not acceptable BEFORE sex enters the equation. We should be teaching both genders about setting and respecting boundaries in all ways, not just sexual ones. Bypassing blame and putting the responsibility of one person’s actions onto someone else is the cause of the problem, not the solution.
If Mr. McLoughlin has an issue with setting boundaries, that’s on him – not his supposedly weak-willed girlfriend and certainly not her father.
“And it should be the father’s threatening stare that pops into my mind every time things go a little farther than they should physically.”
AHHHHHHHHHHHH! My vagina just fell off.
Uh huh, memories of my dad’s glare should definitely be the thing that keeps you from date-raping me.
“Furthermore, it’s hard to be “the man” in a relationship…Guys need to be told to “be a man.” A good man.”
Ugh, yes, please let’s perpetuate harmful gender stereotypes. Hopefully while my dad is telling you to “be a man,” your mom can tell me how to be a “proper lady” so I learn to not to talk back when you are breaking my boundaries. Or else things could really get physical, right?!?!
“But that is what every girl deserves. And every girl deserves a good man.”
Unless she doesn’t like penises. But that’s not a thing, is it? Nah, can’t be!
Ignoring the fact that this article does not take anything other than heterosexuality into consideration, not EVERY girl deserves a good man. If you are a shitty girl, you need to stop being shitty before you deserve a good partner. Girls by default are not pure, virginal, little angels whose sacred vessels are just waiting for a “good man” to fill them up with his manly goodness.
I know someone who has a kid who’s shitty. She’s a shitty little kid, she’s an asshole and she’s mean. She’s probably five or six years old and she sucks. All girls aren’t born good, just like all guys aren’t born rape-y, boundary-breaking jerks. Being a good person is hard work, it takes constant introspection and recalibration, self-awareness and the ability to cut through your own bullshit. “Deserving” a good partner (phrasing which I don’t prefer – a relationship isn’t a job promotion or a night off) means that you are someone who communicates well, treats others with respect, has compassion, etc. Not that you were born a girl so BEWM! you win the Good Man Door Prize.
McLoughlin then goes on about how girls reading the article should talk to their fathers about having “the talk” with their boyfriends, and encourage their dads to be a mentor to the young chap. So, now our dads have to groom our lovers to be just like them? Yay, we get to date our daddies! What all of us pure, manly-goodness craving, virginal vessels wanted all along! Freud would be so proud.
This article oversimplifies relationships, focuses on heterosexuality as the only option for any girl, hints at boys not being able to respect boundaries as expected and acceptable while girls are weaklings who can’t set limits or protect themselves. On top of all that, it also ignores obvious problems like, what if the girl has no father? What if the dad is abusive? What if he’s not a “good man”? What if he has harmful 1950s era ideals about what hetero relaysh-es are supposed to look like? What if the father is a really cool, progressive together dad and doesn’t feel the need to interfere with his daughter’s vag or life? What if the boyfriend is already an awesome person and doesn’t need to be threatened or mentored by his girlfriend’s father?
Simply being a father doesn’t mean you have your shit together or have anything of value to teach a young man and simply being a young man doesn’t mean you are a mindless boner incapable of behaving appropriately. The only things my father could’ve taught my boyfriends is how to be a master manipulator, avoid paying child support and steal shit from doctors offices without getting caught. Not lessons I would prefer to have passed down, #ThanksButNoThanks.
This McLoughlin kid is obviously young (20something, from what I gather) but I don’t think that can excuse this level of ignorance and misogyny. It terrifies me that this could be what the youth of today thinks, it shows a depressing lack of progression in the right direction. I hope any young, impressionable people who read his article passed it by and did not absorb any of this garbage.