Monday, October 25, 2010

Daddy's Little Girl

The war against men has claimed another victim: their daughters.

In today’s America a man knows that he can be sued for workplace sexual harassment if he looks at a woman in the wrong way, if he makes a sexually suggestive remark, or if he touches her inappropriately.

He also knows that children, especially female children, are strictly off limits. Speak to his daughter in the wrong way and a man can find himself charged with child molestation. Even when the charges are false, it is very, very difficult to restore a reputation tarnished by the suspicion of child abuse.

It isn’t easy being a man in America today. The culture has made men into a threat, into the enemy of women and girls.

Not everywhere, not for everyone, but enough of the time for men to be wary in their dealings with female children.

The attacks on men, the stigmatization of men, the distrust about their motives have created a cultural miasma. If you were a father living in such a culture, would you want to talk about sex with your preteen daughter?

The toxic environment produced by the war against men has made men more likely to shut down lines of communication with their daughters.

Then, these same men are criticized for being too reticent, for not opening up, and for not expressing themselves.

The culture strongly encourages girls to discuss intimate matters only with other women. Who but a woman would understand a woman’s experience?

Of course, this deprives girls of a good relationship with the most important man in their lives. And it also tells them that the only people they should listen to are people who are just like them. So much for empathy. Narcissism, anyone? 

And let’s be clear. While Time Magazine sexes up the topic by referring to sex talks, most girls do not want to sit around talking about gross anatomy with their fathers.

What they do want, and what they would find helpful, is an open line of communication, through which they could learn how boys see them, what it means when boys behave this way or that, how best to negotiate the difficulties of adolescent flirtations. 

Wouldn’t it be a good idea for girls to learn something about the male mind, and, at the same time, to learn how to confide in an adult male whose primary desire is to protect them and help guide their growth and development?

Today Time Magazine reports two surprising facts: first that girls who enjoy “open communication” with their fathers have a healthier attitude toward sex and dating than do girls who have less communication. Link here.

As Time Magazine says: "Previous studies have concluded that girls who have open communication with their fathers — about everything — tend to have intercourse later in life and also have fewer sexual partners, both of which can be very good for sexual and mental health."

And second, that that, for all of the information that they have gleaned about human sexuality-- and they have certainly gleaned a great deal-- young women wish that they had learned more about men from their fathers.

College aged women reported this in a recent survey.

In Time’s words: "And, surprisingly, a lot of the women, most of whom were sexually active, wished their fathers had told them more. Specifically, they wanted to hear stuff only guys would know, about how to communicate with men and what the carnal landscape looked like from a male's vantage point."

If Time and the researchers are surprised, they are also saying that they had not imagined that girls who had not discussed relationship issues with their fathers were being deprived of anything of value.

[I am happy to welcome those of you who have arrived at this post via Instapundit or Dr. Helen.  As always, I am grateful to Prof. Glenn Reynolds and Dr. Helen Smith for linking my blog.]


Antigone Amplified said...

I do agree that the current climate of suspicion places men in a difficult position, in their normal dealings with young girls.

Most leave the more intimate discussions with daughters to their wives. Most...

The most frank father/ daughter relationship I ever knew of was a Dutch man, a single father whose daughter was extremely open with him to the point that he proudly watched her deliver her children.

He once told the story of the night she woke him by phoning him at 3am to say 'Daddy, daddy, guess what... I had an orgasm!' Coolly, he responded: 'I'm very happy for you, honey but it's 3am'. The story made me quite uncomfortable, but the Dutch are different!

Way too far, for my liking...a balance is good!

Susan Walsh said...

Interesting post Stuart. Coincidentally, I tweeted that Time article a short while ago. Daughters do desperately need fathers' guidance to successfully navigate the SMP, and understand a male POV. (Having brothers also helps.) One thing I wonder about is whether communication has been hampered because fathers are so uncomfortable with the idea of their own daughters participating in hookups. I've read that many fathers of college-aged boys today are vicariously enjoying their sons' sexual exploits. If that's true, it makes sense that they would feel the opposite way about their daughters'.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I agree with you, Antigone, that sometimes there can be too much of a good thing. I do not think that most girls want to discuss anatomy with their fathers. A zone of privacy is always good for relationships.

And, thank you, as always, Susan. I am sure that you are right that fathers of sexually active coeds do not really want to hear about it or know about what their daughters are doing.

Most fathers are uncomfortable talking about sex with their daughters. Part of this seems to be natural, part cultural. I do not agree with the slant that Time Mag put on their story, but I think they were just trying to get attention.

I think it would be best that these conversations focus on dating and relationships. Perhaps such a conversation would provide girls with a roadmap or a vision of what they should be doing, and what their parents want for them.

Perhaps the fathers should start the conversation when these women are really girls, perhaps providing them with the support they need and the sense of how the male mind functions. From what the research suggests, it appears that if these conversations start young, they will help these girls to avoid hookups later on.

Anonymous said...

I am a father of two girls, six and nine, and see a big void where fathers are not in their daughters lives. They hand off the raising of their daughters to their wives. I am a Daisy Girl Scout leader, because I wanted my daughter to be a scout and there was a shortage, so I went through the training and now I am on my forth troop.
I just got my nine-year-old daughter a book on the biology of reproduction and talk to her about some of the role models for her, such as Lady Gaga or Taylor Swift. In addition, I explain to her how men think. As a soldier, I explain men are like women sometimes, and there are good and bad. Bad, in the sense of the games and ways they will try to manipulate them to “score” or worse, but I tell and introduce them to good men in our community.

D said...

As you may imagine, the worse situation is probably that of divorced children. When a daughter is only ever seeing her dad every other weekend, or at best half a week, the times when things come up for discussion are much less. Couple that with TOTALLY having to watch your step, lest her mother thinking bad things are happening... well you can imagine.

Bottom line is that motherhood is trusted, and fatherhood isn't. interestingly a Mother's NEW boyfrined is counted somehow in with regular fathers, when he does wrong, when it is the mother who has made a bad decision there... but that would be another post, eh?

Stuart Schneiderman said...

If I recall correctly, the boyfriends of divorced mothers are far more likely to molest girls than are their fathers.

You are quite right to say that fathers have a very difficult time in such situations, even more so when there are custody disputes and false accusations against the father.

Anonymous said...

If I recall correctly, the boyfriends of divorced mothers are far more likely to molest girls than are their fathers.

I'm stepfather of a young daughter. Your memory is not faulty.

For myself, I cannot imagine the vileness of molesting a daughter. It should be penalized by death. Her father, in spite of court ruling, is implicitly trusting me with her. I honor her father, regardless of his troubles with his ex--now my wife. This has nothing to do with the child.

This is a man-to-man thing:

"Sorry you had trouble with the ex. Now your wife is mine. I will prove you can trust me to feed and care for your daughter, but I am not daddy. I am an honorable caretaker"

I, and the mother, ensure that "kiddo" spends tons of time with her real dad. I am not her dad. I am simply the man who provides resources to care for her when she is under my roof. And I care for her.

There is a special place for a stepfather, but that place cannot take the place of a father.

In this Fallen World, this is what we have....


Anonymous said...

"I've read that many fathers of college-aged boys today are vicariously enjoying their sons' sexual exploits."

And Susan demonstrates aptly the subtle demonization of men.


Derek said...

"If I recall correctly, the boyfriends of divorced mothers are far more likely to molest girls than are their fathers."

At least one source I've read places that risk at 22 times the likelihood of being molested or abused by a biological father.

I believe I could find multiple sources, but I'm only recalling one, at the moment - the introduction to a relationship education program for single adults/parents.

Anonymous said...

I am the father of a gorgeous (she looks like my wife luckily) 8 year old daughter. I plan on having "the talk" with her when the day comes. I have tried to help her understand the male point of view at every age, and will continue to do so until she gets married (which I hope is after I am pushing up daisies).

In many ways, it is tough being a father today. My daughter has many (way too many) friends whose fathers are absent. They are easy to spot since when I am in a group setting and playing with all of the kids, they cling to me like lost puppies. You can see how they want a male figure in their lives. It is tough to navigate the foolishness that feminism has brought down on us "real" men today, and it makes me sad to see how many children and young women need a father/husband like I am, my Dad was, and my grandfather was.

Rich Vail said...

Excellent post sir.

We as a nation/society have spent the last 40 years demonizing men. Just watch any sitcom of the past 30 or so years. Men are incompetent, or evil...

It's only natural that there be consequences to this. There are fewer marriages today than at any time in history. Under today's laws, it's just not worth it.

Anonymous said...

Antigone Amplified, the dutch father could be charged with negligence.

Anonymous said...

lots of suppositions there, Susan.. does it comfort you to think in such sexist, male-bashing way?

Dennis said...

Probably the two most important relationships, outside of one's spouse, is the Mother/son and the Father/daughter relationships. I am not saying that the Mother/daughter and Father/son relationships are not important for it is how each learns about what it is to be female or male.
The Mother/son relationships teaches the son about women and his relationships with women from the most important woman in his life. The Father/daughter relationship teaches the daughter about her relationships with men from the most important man in her life. We take on great responsibilities when we become parents.
Look around you and you find the women who seems to have the easiest time dealing with men are the one's who had a good relationship with their fathers. The same holds true for Men who had good relationships with their mothers.
The sad part here is that feminism did damage to those important relationships and is responsible for the lack of trust experienced by both sexes. If we continue as we have been we will create a situation where Men, who seem to be unable to do any right in a woman's eyes, will start to have no use for a woman's opinion. For if I can do not right then your opinion is of no value to me.
Given that we complement each other in our skills and abilities and create the perfect unit to face life's challenges we need to correct this as soon as possible. We are different for a reason and that difference is what gives us the synergy requisite for happy successful lives.
Keep up the good work Anon by providing a good male image. We need to both provide that image to both girls and boys if we want them to grow up heath and strong. I was lucky that I was raise mostly down South. When my mother took off in my earlier formative years there were a number of women who fulfilled that role for me for which I am forever grateful.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thanks for the many thoughtful and incisive comments.

I think it is worth emphasizing the fact, as Anonymous did, that far too many girls (and boys, for that matter) are growing up without fathers.

Thanks for giving the terrible image of girls who are suffering because they have been deprived of fathers.

And that the culture seems more intent on pretending that it does not matter than to work to try to validate other authority figures--- as Dennis was suggesting-- who might take up the role.

Anonymous said...

I second the comment that the kids without fathers cling to other kids' dads. Happens to me all the time when I am at parties with my 8 yo daughter. Both young girls and boys from single parent houses seem starved for the opportunity to spend time with men. I took some of her friends camping, and the difference was incredible.

John S said...

Every father should read "Strong Fathers Strong Daughters."


Gary from Jersey said...

Why anyone would be surprised by this hasn't been paying enough attention. Women for some reason accept and mouth without question -- that's you and your ilk, Susan -- that male hatred and disrespect is the norm.

Just watch TV commercials, for instance. The white male is the incompetent buffoon, the impulsive, childish fool who's always being shown up or put down by a female counterpart. It only stands to reason that females accept as fact that men are dumb, sex-crazed menaces.

Let's ignore the fact that men created and improved every aspect of politics, culture, the arts, science, medicine, engineering and so forth. It matters not that the inventions and evolutions men created for females have made life better in every respect.

What matters is that females feel better about themselves spouting rote political polemics without regard to reason, fact, logic or history. That's how we wind up with Susans who think they're being reasonable and fair when they're anything but.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I do believe that some of you have gotten the wrong impression about Susan Walsh's comment.

You may know that she runs a blog called HookingUpSmart whose purpose is to encourage young women to be more judicious about the way they hand out sexual favors.

It is intelligent, cogent, fact-based and full of very sound advice.

I think that if you spend some time reading it you will come away with the impression that Susan is most definitely not a male-basher.

David Foster said...

OT: Antigone, if you are reading this, your comment system doesn't seem to be working--I tried to post a comment on your site using 2 different browsers and nothing happened...

Anonymous said...

Nope, Susan is not a public male-basher but the more insidious type of man-hater - the kind who believes deep-down that men are the cause of women's problems. It comes out in the subtle type of comment like she made.

You can't hide stuff like that.

I will continue to call out and shame comments that seek to place the blame for female behavior on men anywhere I see or hear it.

Anonymous said...

I would venture to say, based on my recent experiences with middle-aged women styling themselves as "cougars", that it is they who are far more likely to be vicariously enjoying their daughter's (and son's) exploits.

The whole "I've read" that "many..." type of slimy commenting tells me that Susan either had one of her girlfriends tell her this or she's projecting.

Anonymous said...

I've always said the rise of single-children families has made girls more clueless, unfamiliar, and intolerant to the way boys are. Never thought of the father problem; hell, you hear so little about him anyway.

SarahW said...

Daughters do not need any "initiation into the mysteries" from their fathers, mothers are very adequate for that.

A zone of privacy is decent, and to my perspective IS necessary, and men should not be commenting on their daughter's or stepdaughter' appeal, proportions, personal hygiene or habits as far as can be avoided, and certainly not on how to achieve sexual satisfaction or make sure men have it, certainly not until she is grown and has her own power to change the subject and/or end the conversation if she desires.

I'm not sure what the complain is, here. That men want to talk about "getting it on" and feel inhibited?

What a Father might do is discuss how to handle boys, especially how he himself viewed women, and his strategies to get what he wanted from them, or his own experience of how men speak about women to each other

I suspect, however, mothers are also not without useful perspective on the point, if not moreso. "Handling" men, avoiding pressure without hurting feelings or being used, is something mothers may understand even more, because they have been in the daughter's place, and know what it is to have not only desires of their own, but desires to be accepted by men, and know, from a personal perspective, the pressures of being a woman.

I think, really, any resprectful, loving family can handle the matter, and that boundaries pecualiar to the male/female relationship are very important, just as in a mother/son relationship.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thank you, SarahW. Of course, I agree with you, and I did say as much, that girls are not going to discuss matters anatomical with their fathers.

I think that the title of the Time article distorted the problem.

I do believe, however, and again in agreement with you, that there are many matters involving boys and relationships that a girl can profitably discuss with her father.

As many of the male commenters have said, it matters enormously for girls to be able to have good communications and good relationships with their fathers. The best mothers can compensate, but the research that Time cites is quite specific about the importance of the father/daughter relationship as promoting the confidence and good judgment that will lead a girl to make good relationship choices.

Anonymous said...

"Daughters do not need any "initiation into the mysteries" from their fathers, mothers are very adequate for that. "

Yet another woman on here dismissing men.

Sarah - as a woman, your opinion on this matter (one of a father's relation to his daughter) is invalid...completely and fully invalid.

Anonymous said...

To make a vast generalization on a post which, itself, is a vast generalization:

Most fathers have trouble dealing with their daughters sexuality. They simply don't view their daughters as sexual beings.

Daughters may be better off talking to someone else about sex than their fathers, who often will sound like some kind of ayatollah.

Faustina said...

My brother in law has a son and a daughter. He likes the idea of his son "getting some", but for some reason this does not apply for his daughter. Surely any girl needs a father who doesn't guard her virginity, for how will she be able to enjoy sex later in life? Feminism has been right to point out destructive issues of masculinity. Now it is men's role to define how to be a good man. Learn from history.

Bob said...

"I've read that many fathers of college-aged boys today are vicariously enjoying their sons' sexual exploits."

This seems like a stretch. I've never seen a college age boy tell a dad about some sexual encounter. Most boys keep that information to their own set of peers.

Human behavior has all sorts of bizarre aspects, but I would hardly characterize this as common place. Frankly most fathers are stressed out to the max, trying to pay tuition bills and are not the least bit interested in hearing about risky behavior and activity that suggests that a kid is not taking school seriously.

Anonymous who is a step father has great instincts. I was in the same situation and became a step-father to an adolescent daughter. The rule of thumb that I adopted, which turned out to work out very well is to let each adolescent step-kid determine and implicitly tell you what kind of relationship they want to have. It gives them a sense of control over an initially awkward situation and lets a relationship grow at a pace they are comfortable with.

Allison said...

"Sarah - as a woman, your opinion on this matter (one of a father's relation to his daughter) is invalid...completely and fully invalid."

Anonymous, are you saying that the opinion of someone's daughter isn't valid? Is the father the only opinion that matters in a father-daughter relationship?

I would not be the person I am without my father. He is the single most important person in my life, and he raised me essentially single-handedly during my early adolescence. (my mother was the breadwinner and traveled often while my father was in graduate school.) He filled a position my life my mom just couldn't. Because I'm a girl, is my opinion invalid? A woman without a father and a woman with one have different opinions on the subject, and they are both fundamentally important to the topic.

By asserting this, you sound every bit as ignorant on the subject as she did. You come across as flagrantly misogynistic.

Proud Hindu said...

In my culture there is no "open communication" between parents and children - certainly not about "everything".

And yet we virtually have no out of wedlock births.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous, are you saying that the opinion of someone's daughter isn't valid? Is the father the only opinion that matters in a father-daughter relationship?"

Allison, just as feminists have excluded men from "women's" topics, so too do I seek to exclude women from men's topics.

Sucks doesn't it? And just like feminists do, I am going to tell you to suck it up and stop whining. Put on your big-girl panties and stick to topics that pertain to you. Besides, Sarah was not speaking from the perspective of the daughter so your assertion is completely without merit. Good try though.

Dennis said...

I have to admit I enjoyed the assertion that one of the reasons for feminism is to find things wrong with men. Now just what is that called besides misandry........... Oh bigotry.
I am not sure how we got to a discussion of the father's need in a daughter's life to feminist drivel. We will never get past most of this twaddle and do what is right for children if every discussion degenerates into sexual politics. And one wonders why our children have a hard time? How about just try being a good image for our children?

Ooh! Can I be Anonymous II? said...

Allison, just as feminists have excluded men from "women's" topics, so too do I seek to exclude women from men's topics.

Sucks doesn't it? And just like feminists do, I am going to tell you to suck it up and stop whining. Put on your big-girl panties and stick to topics that pertain to you.

Translation: I'm no better than the feminists and two wrongs make me always right.

Quite an impressive display of a**clownery.