Dad just got real.
Every now and then someone takes a stand against the cultural tide that would sweep us back to an age of Puritan prudery. Today it’s Nebula-nominated science fiction and kink writer Ferrett Steinmetz, who took to his various blogging platforms to write a stirring open letter to his beloved daughter. The gist? Go out there and get laid.
Steinmetz—who posts about politics, puns, and his polyamorous lifestyle in addition to guest-writing for Jezebel now and then—had been annoyed by a bit of “twaddle,” an attempted meme entitled “10 Rules For Dating My Daughter” that played on the stereotype of an overprotective father, one who has threats of violence for any boy who dares to make a move on his princess.
The list, in Steinmetz’s approximation, enforced the foolish view that “boys are threatening louts, sex is awful when other people do it, and my daughter is a plastic doll whose destiny I control.” After explaining that she should have the same pleasures in life that he does—with some corny dad jokes for good measure—he went on to deliver an eloquent defense of his daughter’s personal autonomy.
You’re not me. Nor are you an extension of my will. And so you need to make your own damn mistakes, to learn how to pick yourself up when you fall, to learn where the bandages are and to bind up your own cuts. I’ll help. I’ll be your consigliere when I can, the advisor, the person you come to when all seems lost. But I think there’s value in getting lost. I think there’s a strength that only comes from fumbling your own way out of the darkness.
You’re your own person, and some of the things you’re going to love will strike me as insane, ugly, or unenjoyable. This is how large and wonderful the world is! Imagine if everyone loved the same thing; we’d all be battling for the same ten people. The miracle is how easily someone’s cast-offs become someone else’s beloved treasure. And I would be a sad, sad little man if I manipulated you into becoming a cookie-cutter clone of my desires. Love the music I hate, watch the movies I loathe, become a strong woman who knows where her bliss is and knows just what to do to get it.
Now, you’re going to get bruised by life, and sometimes bruised consensually. But I won’t tell you sex is bad, or that you’re bad for wanting it, or that other people are bad from wanting it from you if you’re willing to give it. I refuse to perpetuate, even through the plausible deniability of humor, the idea that the people my daughter is attracted to are my enemy.
On LiveJournal, Steinmetz was met with widespread agreement and kudos for his openness in matter that can have dire, lasting effects for families but is so often swept under the rug. Commenters railed against the “prison guard” school of parenting, and some lamented how their own fathers had harassed their boyfriends.
He couldn’t resist a little wordplay toward the end of this otherwise serious message, however, and we don’t begrudge him this last line of advice, because it’s pretty good:
“Now get out there and find all the things you fucking love, and vice versa.”
Photo by Ferrett Steinmetz/Flickr
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