You've heard it before. You've seen it a thousand times in movies, television shows and comic books. The boy comes to the girl’s house to pick her up for a date while her dad sits cleaning his shotgun on the couch, scowling. The daughter sits silently as Dad dictates the parameters of the evening. It's time to retire the shotgun act and give the power back to the daughter, where it has always belonged.

Yesterday I read the viral article by Ferrett Steinmetz called Dear Daughter: I Hope You Have Awesome Sex.

How could you not read something with a title like that? It's so weird and shocking, right? If you have somehow not read it, he basically explains that he's tired of the old dad-with-shotgun-protecting-the-daughter-from-boys-trying-to-take-advantage-of-her routine. He's also done with the idea that boys his daughter dates are his "enemy."

You know what he's talking about. You've heard it a million times: Lock up your daughters. Or, when you're at the park and somebody says your daughter is pretty, followed closely with the suggestion, "Invest in a shotgun now."

On the surface, the old story sounds kind of cute and sweet, right? Engaged, caring, strong dad taking "care" of his beloved, innocent daughter.

Yes, that's one way to look at it.

The other way is that this mentality contributes to the perpetuation of rape culture by portraying males as sexual predators and females as defenseless vessels of male desire. The silenced girl sitting on the couch while her father negotiates the terms of her visit with the boy implies that the girl is incapable of doing so herself, and that the power over the woman's body rests in the males surrounding her. In this case, the father and boy in whose care she will be entrusted.

I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure this very assumption is the root of disgusting defenses of rapists along the lines of "boys will be boys" (Steubenville, anyone?).

And from that mentality grows claims like, "Well she was raped because she was drunk, dressed provocatively, etc." in other words, she violated the terms of the contract that "keeps boys in line," and therefore, she deserved it. They were defenseless to her feminine ways. I mean, what's a boy to do in the presence of an unprotected vagina?

That's rape culture.

And that's what our kids are growing up in.

While I dislike the thought of my daughters or son having sex, like ever at all, with anyone ever (did I mention that?), the last thing I'm going to instill in either one of them is that the control of their behavior rests anywhere other than inside themselves.

She needs a brain, accountability, self-esteem and self-respect. Just like my son does.

Let me be blunt: I will not teach my son that he can't control his penis because he has one, as if he is rendered "rapist" on account of his biology. Talk about a disservice to our boys.

And I will not teach my daughter that her dad or anybody else can "protect" her, or that she even needs protection in the first place.

She needs a brain, accountability, self-esteem and self-respect. Just like my son does.

I also want my kids to grow up understanding that sex is not just some meaningless physical act. While I understand some people are able to have sex without emotion (really?), for the sheer physical pleasure of it, my experience has always been that the physical pleasure is rooted in the emotional connection, in the actual intimacy. Call me an over-emotional female, whatever. But I have known men who are just like me.

I have seen men get their hearts raked over the coals because sex meant more to them than their partner. In other words, only one of them saw it as "a meaningless fling." I have also been the woman doing the heartbreaking, treating somebody like an interesting interlude until something better came along.

The guy I was dating saw it as more.

So for me, sex has never been some simple thing like brushing one's teeth or buying a new outfit. Actually never mind. Buying an outfit is not simple.

Sex is complicated.

We all want to think it's not, but it is. There are feelings involved. There are expectations and desires. People bring their pasts and futures and fears and fantasies.

And of course, there are always good ol' sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.

It is no joke, particularly if you're too young to understand why sex is complicated.

And my kids will understand that too. Not that sex is bad or shameful, but that they are equally responsible, male or female, to think through their behavior and accept responsibility for their actions.

But to learn that, kids need to first understand that no person or thing can be blamed for their decisions. My daughter must own her body as my son owns his.

But to learn that, kids need to first understand that no person or thing can be blamed for their decisions. My daughter must own her body as my son owns his. That's a tough reality for parents to face, but really there's no other option.

The power must rest with them.

The alternative is false, and dangerous, and will result in the same twisted culture we're experiencing now.

More on teens

The sex-ed talk you never thought about having
Talk to your son about date rape
It's called Plan B for a reason

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