Sons, Daughters, & Politics

Like so many American’s I am troubled by what I see taking place in our nation’s capital. The confirmation hearings for the prospective Supreme Court Justice have shown us the worst in American politics. Others have described the public embarrassment of our nation’s self-proclaimed leaders much better than I can. My thoughts on this topic probably aren’t new, or original, but they come from a father of one son and three daughters. With that understanding, I will try to restrain my rage over what is happening to our country and talk from the heart for just a few minutes.

Let me start by saying I don’t know what happened 36 years, I doubt that few outside of Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh will ever know the truth.

I don’t know Christine Blasey Ford, but I do know that many women are sexually harassed, assaulted, and never reported the situation because of shame, fear, or even questions of their own culpability in what happened (i.e. yes, women blame themselves even when they are innocent victims). I have three daughters and always tried to warn them about boys – especially teenage boys with raging hormones. I encouraged them not to put themselves in risky situations (even though that does not justify any form of  sexual assault). I also warned them that “even good boys” are still boys. The logical, reasoning part of a teenage boys brain does not function the same as a mature adult (something I have not seen addressed in any commentary). All that being said, if Christine Blasey Ford were my daughter, I would support her 100%.  Why? Because she is my daughter and regardless of her age, I long to believe her and defend her.

Interestingly, I think I know Brett Kavanaugh better than I know Christine Blasey Ford. In watching the testimony, reading the commentaries and listening to his own words, he sounds a lot like me as an adolescent (yes, an adolescent), only much smarter and far more accomplished. I was raised in a conservative Christian household, yet I still slipped out with friends and drank, acted at times like an idiot, and chased girls. I “ralphed” from too much alcohol at the age of thirteen after getting my hands on a bottle of vodka and drinking too much of it with a buddy up the street.  In the sports locker rooms we talked about inappropriate things, bragged and exaggerated our conquests and burped, belched, and discharged gas to uproarious laughter. When we got together we were coarse, irreverent, little boys wanting desperately to be men.

Judge Kavanaugh is a little younger than me, but I doubt that society had moved too far forward in the years that separated us. If anything our culture was even more sex-crazed with MTV and social standards continuing to decline. As an adolescent teen I thought about sex often, so did most of the other teen boys I knew. We thought about it, talked about it, and while I grew up in home that taught the importance of waiting for marriage, I still thought a lot about “how far can I go and not have that be too far.” It was cultural, it was biological, and in my case it took a combination of fear (std’s & pregnancy), and faith to keep me from engaging in sexual intercourse before marriage. Am I justifying boys touching, grabbing, and constantly pushing for more – not at all. I am just stating the facts. We even had a term for our era – “the sexual revolution.” We used terms like “free sex” and the music and media reinforced all of that.

Fast forward a little over 40 years and I am nothing like that teenage boy. but this is why I was overly-cautious every time a boy looked at my daughter. I was considered one of the “really good guys.” Like Judge Kavanaugh you can go interview my high school friends, the girls I dated, the girls I was friends with, and I am confident that without question they would tell you I was a kind, sweet, guy. That goes back to my earlier warning – “even good boys are still boys.” I attended parties where kids drank, slipped off to a corner of the house and made out, and often did much more. Knowing what I was prone to as “the good kid,” it scared me as a father. Everything I see and hear tell me that Judge Kavanaugh probably faced the same challenges as a teen and from the reaction of so many women who have come to his defense – he managed a wild period in our social history, struggling to maintain the core values his faith and family expected of him.

I have a son and we have talked about sex, dating, and other topics from the time he was a teen. I used to tell him that regardless of what a woman might offer in affection and attention – he was responsible for the decisions he made about promiscuity and sex. In other words, I taught him that boys can say no too. I look on my sons and daughters with pride, but while I feared how the boys might treat my daughter, I also feared what girls might say about my son. He grew up to be a strong, strapping young man who decided to devote his early life and career to serving teens. I warned him over and over and over to be careful about his work with the young girls at church. They were bound to have crushes and their own crazy fantasies, but all it would take is one teen girl to feel spurned or get her heart broken to make a false accusation.  Once a female accuses you of sexual misconduct – innocent or not, your life is forever changed. You will always carry that accusation as a horrible disfiguring scar on your character and reputation.

Everyday women are mistreated, abused, assaulted, and many of them never get justice. But a man can also be a victim. Once falsely accused he must bear the burden of being called. rapist, sexual deviant, and predator. This is why our system, as imperfect as as it is – is based on “presumed innocence,” not on presumed guilt. When you have sons and daughters – the argument goes beyond politics. At some point we all have to ask the question – What if Christine Blasey Ford was my daughter, or what if Brett Kavanaugh were my son?

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