Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mixed Messages?

The Fray--"Heartless (Kanye West cover)" (mp3)
Continental Drifters--"Mixed Messages" (mp3)

Two events from today have convinced me that I need to respond to Billy's post:

1) a man in Taiwan sat down on the toilet in his house and was promptly bitten on the penis by a large black and gold rat snake that came up through the drain.

2) moral arbitrator Donald Trump decided that Miss California can keep her crown after all.

Now, the first event has no connection to this post, except to serve as a cautionary tale.

But the second, the defense of Carrie Prejean, serves as a kind of coda to Billy's remarks. While what Judge Trump has ruled would seem to only determine whether or not a "beauty"gets to keep her crown, it does, as Billy suggests, tend to cloud the major issues. Her statement yesterday that "I'm a model; I'm a Christian" is offered as some kind of duality that attempts to link the two when they do not link. Is it that "because I'm a model and my tits are Christian tits, and therefore what I do with them is beyond reproach?" Or is it that "because I'm a Christian, I operate on a higher plane than people who want to destroy the institution of marriage by having same-sex unions" and my modelling is irrelevant? Does being both allow one to use a public platform for "free speech" designed to curtail the rights of others? I don't know.

But the bigger issue is probably this: if you're expecting Donald Trump and his ilk to make the societal calls that will best serve our children, you're wasting your time and breath.

Ponder this. Each year, four guys go to New Orleans over Spring Break. One expectation of that trip is that each of us burns a mix CD of favorites for the other three guys. Now, suppose one co-founder of this blog put the Kanye West song "Drunk and Hot Girls" onto his mix, and one of the other guys plays the mix in his car while picking up his young daughters from elementary school. Those girls hear the song, in fact, like the song, want to hear it over and over, sing along with it, and know all of the words. Now, suppose the other co-founder of this blog has never, ever censored what his daughters have listened to, that, back in the day, he, too, used to drive around with his daughters and they had group-sings of Shaggy's "It Wasn't Me." Yes, we were all singing together, "Picture this/we were both butt naked/bangin' on the bathroom floor."

Do any of you, and I mean any of you out there, really believe that a repetition of these lyrics or similar ones or watching Brittney Spears videos or watching the implied co-habitation on S Club 7 will cause any of these girls to have a propensity for pre-marital sex or "sluttish" behavior?

I don't believe it. Not one bit.

Since the beginning of civilization, parents have been seeking to protect their children from the influences of the larger society. This is a good instinct, one that we should nurture. But the tendency to blame that society or even to claim that that society is worse than it ever was is both simplistic and misguided.

Here's a different look at the problem. I do not believe that there is a national epidemic of births out of wedlock. Now, I would be a fool if I denied that there are a lot of births out of wedlock. But an epidemic? No way.

"A prevailing cause of sexual activity and promiscuity in girls is a poor relationship with their fathers."

Here's why: an epidemic, a national disease, if you will, implies that the idea is spreading from one unmarried child to the next like the swine flu. Does the friend of an unwed mother think, "Gee, she had one, I guess I'll have one, too?" I don't buy it. If we want to get at the issues of promiscuity and the resultant preganancies, we've got to stop talking epidemic and start talking one case at a time.

You see, as my wife the Child Development major/social worker has often told me, and as simple Internet research yesterday confirmed, one prevailing cause of sexual activity in young girls is a poor relationship with their fathers. When we realize that when a father is absent, emotionally distant, physically intimidating or otherwise detached from his daughter, his daughter is more likely to do whatever is necessary with another male, to reassure herself that "at least one man loves her," then, I think we get at the heart of the problem.

I read the statistics in the Washington Post article: 38% of children in this country are born out of wedlock. It's a fact, but facts don't always tell the whole story. Are there, perhaps, portions of society where many of those illegitimate children are coming from, and are those portions of society unfortunately and tragically portions where fathers are predominantly absent? That is the issue.

Of course, our society is in many ways a wreck. Just as certainly, in many ways, it is as good as it as ever been. And the messages have always been mixed, always will be mixed, at least as long as we continue to worship the dual gods of Christianity and Capitalism. The thing that is clear to me, that is a completely unmixed message, is that, just as has always been true, if we are going to protect our children, it has to start with the family and not with the blaming of outside influences.

Continental Drifters are available at Itunes; the Fray cover is out there.


Billy said...

So I guess this has unofficially become a Fathers and Social Problems Week...

Anonymous said...

Oh good. Lay it all at my feet.

Actually, Bob, I agree with you about how key dads are in the lives of their daughters. I'm putting in the time now, hoping that when my the invasion of the bodysnatchers arrives at puberty, that there's a foundation laid to mitigate that particular dynamic.

Bob said...

Billy, since I am the winner of our "I Got John To Post First" contest, you owe me $10 or the equivalent in handcrafted, microbrews.

Billy said...

OK, I was gonna write a whole response but decided to take this route instead.

Isn't saying "illegitimacy is a problem because of a lack of fathers" kind of totally redundant? Even if the father is present but not meaningful, then you still basically have an illegitimate child who is at greater risk of perpetuating the fatherless cycle. And these girls have more children at younger ages, so the problem is arguably exponential in a generational sense. Thus, the misuse of "epidemic." The problem does indeed multiply over time. It propagates most successfully on those who come from the same life experience. An inherited disease, if you will.

Saying a lack of fathers causes illegitimacy might be accurate on two levels, but it doesn't address the reality of the present and growing problem. Maybe the rest of us in society should feel an obligation to do what (little?) we can to protect or at least be mindful of the fatherless amongst us?

troutking said...

Adam raised a cain.

Tommy D said...

what are "daughters?"...never heard of em?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...