Quit it with the shotguns already

May 26, 2013

Time for a good old rant.

You know those comments people make to parents, particularly dads, about daughters who are conventionally pretty? Comments like; ‘Get your shotgun ready! You’re in for it!’ or ‘you’ll have to fend them off with a stick, mate!’

Well, I think they are actually kinda creepy. Let me break down why:

I think what people think they are saying is: ‘Your daughter is so pretty, she’ll have many suitors.’ And I think what they might be trying to imply is that in your role as Dad, you’ll have to protect her.

Protect what exactly, her virtue? Which is just code for virginity really. Are we really implying that it’s her dad’s to ‘protect’? Or do we mean her physical safety?

And protect her from what? Why would she need protecting? It seems we already assume that the men in her future life won’t respect her boundaries enough that she’ll require armed back-up.

Now sadly, there is truth to the assumption that life as a woman is risky, I’m not disputing that. But these comments normalise a world where ‘fending them off with a stick’ is an irreversible reality.

I also agree that as parents we have a responsibility to protect our children. But at some point they are able to make their own decisions about their lives (and yes, that includes their sex lives).

When I hear those comments, what I hear them saying is: Your daughter is your property. Her virginity is valuable, she can’t be trusted to look after herself and you cant trust other men, so you had better take up arms to protect what’s yours, because someday, someone is going to come and try to take it.

But the parents I know are teaching their daughters (and sons) to stand up for themselves and make smart decisions in their lives.

Mostly.

Sometimes though, we* lapse into these old-fashioned sayings which betray an old-fashioned way of thinking which isn’t even how my friends and I actually think. But yet these words and their terrible implications still fall from our minds and mouths and then they’re out there, reinforcing a culture and a set of norms which harm us all.

Fight back. Try not to say those things. and don’t let other people say them without pointing it out. Gently, mind you, at least the first time.

My response last time I saw that comment? ‘No need for shotguns, with parents like those, that kid will know how to sort herself out.’

 

* I am deliberately including myself as nobody is perfect

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2 Responses to “Quit it with the shotguns already”

  1. Wendy J said

    Now that you mention it, I am over people commenting on kids’ appearances (although I too am guilty of this) and making any sort of related assumption/prediction. I know the science backs up some of these assumptions/predictions (see for example, bit.ly/10UVEHA), but I get uncomfortable with the whole thing, and feel guilty when I realise I have been complicit with things I have said. It is little wonder that our society is so fixated on an unattainable – and most of the time, totally unhealthy – standard of appearance.

  2. Tara Jade said

    Nice post, K! 🙂

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