Since when does duct tape and bondage bring peace to anyone?

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I was thinking all day about writing a response to this photo, but then my amazing husband wrote this on Facebook:

When?

When did we decide it was ok to joke about our wives and daughters being gagged and bound?

When did we decide peace on Earth would come from silencing half of the world’s population?

When did we decide that Christmas (or for that matter anytime) was a good time to mock those we love?

When did we decide that “lighten up” or “it’s just a joke” were appropriate responses to those who were shocked by such a message of violence and forced submission?

When?

Is it possible that it was all decided long ago?

Is it possible that these types of acts are manifestations of what has been simmering just below the surface all along?

Is it possible that our world still believes that it is all Eve’s fault?

All of it?

All the pain?

All the sorrow?

All the fighting?

All the disention?

All the frustration?

Is it possible that the world has passed this on to us?

And we believe it?

Is it possible?

Do we all really believe that?

And if we don’t, why do we keep hearing and seeing – and tolerating – messages that bound and gag our wives and daughters?

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Whatever you do to my daughter I will do to you. Really?

whateveryoudotomydaughter

If you’re like me you’ve probably seen this picture at least 20 times in your news feed by now. If not, well, count yourself lucky. It has been picked up by news outlets, shared on social media and perhaps most disturbingly touted as an example of good parenting by virtually all of them, including Seventeen Magazine.

You pretty much already know the story just from looking at the picture, it’s the tired trope of the overprotective dad. It is literally a joke (with a healthy side of “I’m not really joking”). You can find example after example with minimal effort.  I have even written about other examples in the past.

I know what some of you are thinking, and it is exactly what many of the articles written about this meme so far – “It’s really a great way of saying, “Haha, I’m cool and totally have a sense of humor. But, also, I’m watching you, buddy.””

But is it really a great way? Is it?

I don’t think it is.

I’m sorry, I just don’t get it. First and foremost it treats the daughter as a passive participant. “Whatever you do to my daughter.” Unless it is rape, it takes two to tango sir. Your daughter is a free moral agent, what she chooses to do or not to do with a boy is not only because it is what the boy has decided. To bypass your daughter and go straight to the boy and lay all the responsibility on his shoulders teaches your daughter all the wrong lessons. For one it teaches her she is a passive victim and at the whim of a boy, his hormones or any other peer pressure situation. In addition, it tells her that she is powerless in the relationship with this boy and that you feel he is the one in the relationship with all the power. If I am not mistaken, isn’t that the opposite of the message you are trying to send, sir?

The second thing I think is just plain weird/creepy about this is, “Whatever you do to my daughter, I will do to you”. Really? WHATEVER? What if they kiss? What if they get to second base? Or third? What if they have sex? What if they have oral sex? Sorry to be so graphic, but do you see how weird/creepy this is????? Seriously, ewwwwww. Why would anyone see this as an appropriate thing (much less a model of good parenting) for a parent  to say to the young man (or young woman) about to go to Homecoming with your daughter?

When Should I Talk to My Kids About Sex? (Abstaining from abstinence-only education)

Chalk drawing - Do it now

Chalk drawing – Do it now

Now.

Now is the answer.

Now is when you should talk to your kids about sex.

But what if they are 3? Is it too early?
Now.

But what if they are 18? Is it too late?
No. You should talk to them now.

But what if it is awkward?
It will be. Do it now anyway.

What if they haven’t asked yet?
Who cares? Now is the time!

What if I suspect they are already sexually active?
What are you waiting for? Sit down to talk now!

What if I don’t know what to say?
Now there is a great question.

Many of us, because of the way we were brought up, aren’t sure we even have everything straight. If that is you or if you just want some awesome resources to get you started. Here you go!

American Medical Association Girl’s Guide to Becoming a Teen

Grades 4-7: Learn about these important topics and more: * Puberty and what kinds of physical and emotional changes you can expect-from your developing body to your feelings about boys * The importance of eating the right foods and taking care of your body * Your reproductive system inside and out * Starting your period-what it means and how to handle it * Thinking about relationships and dealing with new feelings

American Medical Association Boy’s Guide to Becoming a Teen

Grades 4-7: Learn about these important topics and more: * Puberty and what kinds of physical and emotional changes you can expect-from your developing body to your feelings about girls * The importance of eating the right foods and taking care of your body * Pimples, acne, and how to properly care for your skin * Your reproductive system-inside and out * Thinking about relationships and dealing with new feelings

Our Whole Lives

Our Whole Lives helps participants make informed and responsible decisions about their sexual health and behavior. With a holistic approach, Our Whole Lives provides accurate, developmentally appropriate information about a range of topics, including relationships, gender identity, sexual orientation, sexual health, and cultural influences on sexuality.

Our Whole Lives Offers…

  • Accurate information presented in developmentally appropriate ways
  • Affective and emotional learning
  • Guiding values and principles
  • Activities that help participants clarify values and improve decision-making skills
  • A safe and supportive peer group
  • Acceptance of diversity
  • A social justice approach to inclusive sexuality education
  • Step-by-step instructions for program promotion, implementation, and facilitation
  • Parent orientation that affirms parents as their children’s primary sexuality educators
  • Facilitator trainings and continuing education to increase knowledge, skills, confidence
  • Expert user support from OWL Program Associate (UUA) and OWL Program Coordinator (UCC)
  • Sexuality and Our Faith, an optional religious supplement for use in Unitarian Universalist and United Church of Christ settings.

Our Whole Lives Values…

While Our Whole Lives is secular, it is not value-free. The program gives clear messages about the following key sexuality issues:

  • self worth
  • sexual health
  • responsibility
  • justice and inclusivity

Our Whole Lives recognizes and respects the diversity of participants with respect to biological sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, and disability status. The activities and language used throughout the program have been carefully chosen to be as inclusive as possible of this human diversity.

Additionally, here is a great article which quotes my friend  Laurie Watson, licensed marriage, family and sex therapist and clinical director of Awakenings Center for Intimacy and Sexuality in Raleigh, NC: Talking about Sex With Kids: Take the Fright Out of ‘the Talk’ . In the article, Laurie gives tips on how to talk with kids who are at various ages and stages.

You may be wondering, what brought this on? What has gotten Michelle’s panties in a twist this time? Well lovelies, I read this article today: Why Grown-Ups Need Sex Ed Too: Exposing the Long Term harm of Abstinence-Only Teachings which was a guest post by Amber Barnhill on my FB friend Neil Carter’s Patheos site, Godless in Dixie.

[Disclaimer: I do not always agree with Neil. Just because I link to someone does not mean I agree with everything they say. I do however enjoy reading his blog from time to time and I think it is healthy to challenge yourself with sources that do not always agree with you.]

Anywho, in today’s guest post, Ms. Barnhill, who grew up in a fundamentalist home, lamented her own abstinence-only education and illustrated how these programs and the way they are taught leads to sexual dysfunction in adult life. On that point, I completely agree with her. The way in which much of the church talks to kids about sex (if they talk to them about it at all) has caused immeasurable sexual dysfunction within marriage, and it takes years to overcome. I propose that we cease and desist with this nonsense, abstain from abstinence-only education and start actually educating ourselves and our children about the realities of human sexuality. We must talk to them openly and honestly NOW.

Now is the right time.

No, it cannot wait.

Beauty, Ugliness & the Meaning of Life

I began writing this post once already and the Internet ate it. For a few minutes I was quite upset as I really liked the direction the post was taking. But now that the mourning period has ended, I have decided that perhaps those words were for me and me alone, and that because of their death, the evolution of my thoughts will have new life and I will be able to communicate with greater clarity.

Just a quick note: This is not a post about Frank’s book. This is a post about Frank and Genie (This ain’t no book cult after all – see what I did there Frank?). The book is all well and good and taught me a lot, however why would you sit with your nose in a book when its author is in the room and you can speak to them face to face?


 

frankeddiedeens This weekend Kent and I had the rare privilege of mingling lives with Frank and Genie Schaeffer as they stayed with us in our home. They were in town to promote Frank’s most recent book,
Why I Am An Atheist Who Believes in God.
Frank Schaeffer (son of evangelical royalty,
New York Times best seller and erstwhile architect an purveyor of the Christian Coalition and the Moral majority) and his lovely wife are among the most gracious, generous, unassuming and fun house guests we have ever had the pleasure of hosting.

 

This post is my attempt to allow you a glimpselilacs into the joy of this weekend in the same way that Frank’s painting of lilacs can transport me to my childhood backyard and the smell of spring. While it is a mere attempt to mimic the beauty, no painting can be spring and nothing I write can take the place of having been here.

 

 

f&gFrank almost always travels without Genie, as most groups do not choose to spend the money required to purchase the extra plane ticket or they somehow do not find value in having the spouse of the speaker at their event, I do not pretend to know their reasons. However, I can tell you that Genie Schaeffer is an endlessly interesting person and if you have read any of Frank’s memoirs like Crazy for God, you already know that. Genie is a pure delight and I feel very confident that Frank would agree that she is his “secret sauce”. By that I mean that without knowing Genie, you will never truly know Frank. Without her, he is an incomplete picture, as am I, without Kent. She is his muse, his greatest love and his anchor in a stormy sea. She is, as he says, the only person who truly understands him and knows with a knowing that only comes with experience what complexities of life have made him the man I now know.

 

As I mentioned before, Frank was in town to promote his book, and though we only brought together a whopping 30 people at most, Frank spoke to us with all the passion of a person who was in town (as Frank was in a former life) via a flight on Jerry Falwell’s private jet to be introduced as the keynote speaker at the Southern Baptist Convention by Tom Landry and Roger Staubach. And although Frank Schaeffer has held court with many, many famous and “important” people, he was most at home on the floor of the bar where we meet, building a castle of blocks with a 6 year old little girl. Why? Because, as he says, that is what is real and important. And believe me, Anika knew she was important to Frank. You could feel it.

 

IMG_8752My children who are 12 and 13 also knew that they were important to Frank and Genie. Do you know why? They took the time to see them­–to focus on them. They were never an afterthought to be ignored or talked down to. That is why my daughter’s lock screen now glows with the inspiration of the picture she took with Frank. When he heard she wanted to be an actress, they spent time one on one discussing Shakespeare. Frank challenged her and connected with her over her dreams. He recommended readings and movies and agreed to Skype with her to talk more about it after she read or watched. Frequently during the weekend when I would be looking for my son, I would finally find him sitting and talking with Frank and Genie in the backyard or showing Frank funny YouTube videos and Frank calling Genie over to watch too. “You have to come and see” he would IMG_8751say. One morning I even found Frank in the driveway feeding Caedmon the basketball so he could practice his shooting. When Frank or Genie were with them, they were the only thing that mattered. It was pure magic.

As for me, this weekend was transformative. We drank wine, we broke bread and though we did not call it communion, that is what it was. We talked about beauty. We talked about art. We shared music. We spoke honest words and we shared empathy. This weekend helped me along in my evolution. After all, life is about becoming not simply having the “right ideas”.

One thing Frank did say while he was here is that he tries to look at every situation and ask “Is it beautiful or is it ugly?” Does believing it help me behave in ways that are beautiful or ugly? Does saying it, or doing it make the world a more beautiful or a more ugly place? I will tell you this, Frank and Genie Schaeffer came to visit and they made our world more beautiful.

 

 

What’s love got to do (got to do) with it?

1_corinthians_13_4_8_by_yods-d4r0d51There is lots of talk about loving your neighbor going around. There are a lot of thoughts about loving your enemy. There are questions about how we can love members of ISIS, megachurch pastors and even that relative you secretly dread spending time with.

So I got to thinking, is there anything to be learned in scripture about loving well or what loving someone actually, practically looks like? One famous passage immediately springs to mind, 1 Corinthians 13. You may have heard it before. It goes something like this:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

If we assume this to be true and an accurate depiction of love, what does that say about who God is seeing as the scriptures tell us that God is love? Let’s sub in God for the word love in the 1 Cor. passage and see what we get:

God is patient, God is kind. God does not envy, God does not boast, God is not proud. God does not dishonor others, God is not self-seeking, God is not easily angered, God keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

God’s love never fails.

That phrase “is not self-seeking” is also translated “does not insist on its own way”.  Can you imagine? God does not insist on his own way. BOOM. WOW. INSANITY.  I don’t know about you but that was a revelation to me this week.

What about us? How does that help us? Does this have direct application that helps us love the specific people mentioned earlier? Let’s see. I’ll try it with myself. (I don’t know about you but this is actually one I have done before).

Michelle is patient, Michelle is kind. Michelle does not envy, Michelle does not boast, Michelle is not proud. Michelle does not dishonor others, Michelle is not self-seeking, Michelle is not easily angered, Michelle keeps no record of wrongs. Michelle does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Michelle always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Michelle’s love never fails.

If you want you can take it a step further by inserting the person(s) you aren’t sure if you’re loving. Can I confidently say:

Michelle is patient, Michelle is kind toward her enemies. Michelle does not envy her neighbor, Michelle does not boast to her frustrating family member, Michelle is not proud when someone offers advice. Michelle does not dishonor he enemies, Michelle is not self-seeking, Michelle is not easily angered with her children or spouse, Michelle keeps no record of wrongs. Michelle does not delight in the megachurch pastor’s wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth that allows healing to begin. Michelle always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Michelle’s love never fails?

Honestly, sometimes I can say those things and sometimes I can’t.

However, I can confidently say, this is the kind of love I aspire to. This is the kind of person I want to be. And for real, wouldn’t the world be a better place if we were all these kind of people?

In the end, what’s love got to do with it? Absolutely everything.

 

 

Women’s Equality Day: Texas Voting Edition

Tswift feministThat’s right T-Swift, being a feminist isn’t about hating men at all. Being a feminist is about days like today where we stand up and say that the voice of a woman and the vote of a woman are equal. Today is a very important day. Today is Women’s Equality Day in the United States which commemorates the day that the 19th Amendment was certified as law, giving women the vote. Shockingly (or not so shockingly) women (and their male allies) fought for the right to vote in the US for 70+ years before it became a reality in 1920. 70+ years.

In light of this fight, and the ongoing fight to secure the full equality of women in the United States and around the world I call on the women of Texas and the men who support our right to full equality to vote in the upcoming election this November. Yesterday someone sent me an article about the 2014 Best And Worst States for Women’s Equality conducted by the personal finance website Wallethub. Any guesses where Texas ranks on the list? 47th. The researchers looked at the following factors in determining ranking:

image

  • Workplace Environment

    • Pay (Median Weekly Earnings)
    • Number of Executives
    • Average Work Hours (for Full-Time Workers)
    • Number of Minimum-Wage Workers
    • Unemployment Rate

    Education and Health

    • Number of Residents Aged 25+ with a Bachelor’s Degree or Higher
    • Life Expectancy at Age 65

    Political Empowerment

    • Number of Lawmakers in U.S. Senate
    • Number of Lawmakers in U.S. House of Representatives
    • Number of Lawmakers in State Legislature

47th? Really people of Texas, we can do better. After reading the study and the articles about it I was left to wonder, “Why in the world would any woman would vote for Greg Abbott or Dan Patrick in the upcoming election?” Why would we as citizens of the great state of Texas settle for anything less than the equal treatment of all our citizens; Not just male and female but gay or straight or black or white or latino or asian or christian or muslim or jew or rich or poor or any other distinction you want to make?

For me, a vote for Abbott and Patrick is a vote for the status quo in Texas. And not only the status quo but a move even further into Ted Cruz Tea Party territory. When I looked on the Wendy Davis Campaign’s web site to learn her stance on women’s issues this is what I found:

Working for Women

  • Fighting Against Closure of Women’s Health Centers

Wendy Davis stood for nearly 13 hours to fight against Austin insiders trying to close 60 health centers across Texas that once provided hundreds of thousands of women with care they can’t get elsewhere.

  • Empowering Rape Survivors, Cracking Down on Rapists

Wendy Davis authored the second law in U.S. history to focus on eradicating the state’s backlog of thousands of untested rape kits to ensure sexual predators are brought to justice.

  • Ending Sexual Violence

Wendy Davis has also passed laws to make certain that survivors of sexual assault can be treated and have their evidence collected at almost any hospital with an ER and be kept up to date on the status of their case.

  • Fighting for Equal Pay

Wendy Davis passed a bipartisan equal pay for equal work bill in 2013, which would have conformed Texas law with federal law and allowed victims of wage discrimination to pursue their case in state court. Governor Perry vetoed the bill. Texas is one of only four states that does not have equal pay for equal work protections.

In Texas, the median pay for a woman working full time, year-round is $33,689 per year, while the median yearly pay for a man is $42,044. When broken down, full-time, year-round Texas women are paid about 82 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to a yearly gap of $7,859 between men and women.

When I went to Greg Abbott’s website, I could find nothing on any of these issues. NOTHING.

In Texas the Lieutenant Governor is in some ways a more powerful position than Governor. This is because in the Lt. Governor is not only part of the executive branch but also part of the legislative branch as he or she:

…controls the work of the Texas Senate and controls the budgeting process as a leader of the Legislative Budget Board.

Under the provisions of the Texas Constitution, the Lieutenant Governor is President of the Texas Senate. By the rules of the Senate, the Lieutenant Governor establishes all special and standing committees, appoints all chairpersons and members, and assigns all Senate legislation to the committee of his choice. The Lieutenant Governor decides all questions of parliamentary procedure in the Senate. He or she also has broad discretion in following Senate procedural rules.

The Lieutenant Governor is an ex officio member of several statutory bodies. These include the Legislative Budget Board, the Legislative Council, the Legislative Audit Committee, the Legislative Board and Legislative Council, which have considerable sway over state programs, the budget and policy. The Lieutenant Governor is also a member of the Legislative Redistricting Board (together with the Speaker of the House, Attorney General, Comptroller, and Land Commissioner), which is charged with adopting a redistricting plan for the Texas House of Representatives, Texas Senate, or U.S. House of Representatives after the decennial census if the Legislature fails to do so.

This November you have a choice between Leticia Van de Putte and Dan Patrick for Lt. Governor. If you go to Dan Patrick’s site, again you will find NOTHING on these issues. The statement on the Van de Putte site says:

WOMEN: TRUSTING WOMEN

As a proud Latina, Leticia believes Texans trust women to make their own health care choices. She knows respecting women means passing equal pay for equal work and that trusting women means letting them make their own family decisions.

As Lieutenant Governor, Leticia will listen to women and make sure that women’s voices are heard.

Listen up Texas, we actually have a real choice to make about the direction our state will take this November. Please, on this day set aside to celebrate the day women were given a say in their own governance, let us pledge to educate ourselves on the issues, register and vote. Too many women and men sacrificed for too long to give us this privilege for us to squander it on the altar of apathy or inconvenience.

Side note: There are so many more issues on the line in this year’s gubernatorial election. I hope you will take the time to read about what the candidates and the party platforms actually say about the issues and then vote your conscience. 

More Resources:

Pathways to Equality 

Texas League of Women Voters

North Texas Tea Party Voter Guide

Vote Texas

Texas GOP Platform

Texas Democrat Platform

A Rude Response: Lessons in missing the point.

So there is a video that has gone viral this week of a Dad’s response to the song Rude by Magic!. So far I have had several people post links to it in my time line. The problem with both the original song and the tongue-in-cheek response to it is they both miss the point entirely.

Here are the lyrics to the original song:

Saturday morning jumped out of bed and put on my best suit
Got in my car and raced like a jet, all the way to you
Knocked on your door with heart in my hand
To ask you a question
‘Cause I know that you’re an old fashioned man yeah yeah

‘Can I have your daughter for the rest of my life? Say yes, say yes
‘Cause I need to know
You say I’ll never get your blessing till the day I die
Tough luck my friend but the answer is no!

Why you gotta be so rude?
Don’t you know I’m human too
Why you gotta be so rude
I’m gonna marry her anyway

Marry that girl
Marry her anyway
Marry that girl
Yeah no matter what you say
Marry that girl
And we’ll be a family

Why you gotta be so rude

I hate to do this, you leave no choice
Can’t live without her
Love me or hate me we will be boys
Standing at that alter
Or we will run away
To another galaxy you know
You know she’s in love with me
She will go anywhere I go

Hook-Chorus-Chorus- etc

Here are the lyrics to the response:

Saturday morning came without warning
Woke me up from my bed
Seeking permission to marry my princess
Son, what’s wrong with your big head
It’s the first time I’ve met you, why would I let you
Run off with my baby girl?
Get back in your Pinto. It’s time that you go.
The answer is no.

You say you want my daughter for the rest of your life
Well you’ve got to make more than burgers and fries
Get out your mama’s basement and go get you a life
Son you’re 28 don’t you think that it’s time?

Why you gotta call me rude?
I’m doin’ what a dad should do
Keep her from a fool like you
And if you marry her anyway

Marry that girl,
I’m gonna punch your face
Marry that girl,
I’ll make you go away
Marry that girl,
In the bottom of a lake.

You may not get this so let me explain
Cause you need to undersatnd
This is forever, she deserves better
She really needs a grown man
I know what you’re thinkin’
You think you’ll still take her
Give it your best shot
I may be a Christian
But I’ll go to prison
I’m not scared of doin’ hard time

Hook-Chorus

The answer is no
So why don’t you go away?

Did you see it? Or should I say did you not see it? WHERE IS THE WOMAN IN BOTH OF THESE SONGS?????  Both of these songs are about two men making a decision and coming to an agreement about what will happen in this woman’s life WITHOUT ANY INPUT FROM THE WOMAN. The most worrisome lyrics in both songs imply that this is some weak ass woman who has no clue what she is doing and needs the two men to decide for her.

 “Can I have your daughter?”
(Not can we have your blessing or your permission but, “Can I have your daughter” like she is property to be transferred.)

“You know she’s in love with me. She will go anywhere I go.”
(This can be a beautiful thing if you say to someone else I will follow you anywhere. However, in the song he is saying it more like, I can take her anywhere I want and she will go with me and you will lose her. It seems like a power trip.)

“I’m gonna punch your face
I’ll make you go away
In the bottom of a lake”

“I may be a Christian,
But I’ll go to prison.
I’m not scared of doin’ hard time.”
(So Christian dad just wants you to know (in all love) if you insist on marrying his daughter and “taking her” he will have to kill you.)

“you think you’ll still take her”
(Again with the “taking”, as if she is an object he can just take against her will. Obviously she is not thinking clearly if she chooses a mate Daddy doesn’t like.)

A while back I wrote a post called, Don’t ask me if you can marry my daughter. At the time it was a response to the rise of so called “Purity Balls”. In it I said, among other things,

My husband never asked my father’s permission to marry me. We also didn’t ask for his blessing. Not only that, I have a feeling if Kent would have asked him he would have said it wasn’t his decision to make.

Because it wasn’t.

It was mine. My life was mine to join to someone else’s. My future was in my hands. My heart was mine to give.

Once Kent and I decided that we were going to get married we told both my parents together. Simple.

My parents, wise as they are, knew that even though they had given me life, raised me and protected me, they did not have ownership of my heart and could not give the naming rights to whomever they chose as if I were a sports arena. They knew that even though they had dreams for me, and thoughts about how my life would turn out, those were not necessarily my dreams for myself. They knew that they had raised me to be independent, wise and trustworthy and they knew that they had given me more and more freedom to make choices, to try and fail and to try and succeed. They knew that if at some point I found the one person I wanted to give my heart to, that they had already done what they could to help me make the best choice. They knew that if I wanted advice I would ask them for it. And I did. Plenty. But they also knew, lovelies, that it was my decision to make. My heart. My future. My life. My choice…

I am proud to say, my husband and I are carrying on the proud tradition my parents started. We are our daughter’s parents, we are raising her to be strong, brave, independent, discerning and trustworthy. When the time comes I hope we don’t know about her proposal before she does. If her future spouse does come to us first, I know exactly what I will say, “She is not mine to give. Her heart is her own. You will need to ask her. It is her choice.”