My Dearest Chet,
A few months ago, a political comment made during a television news program got my knickers in a twist. A man named Foster Friess, a large financial supporter of a very conservative presidential candidate, joked that women didn’t need birth control -- they could simply place an aspirin between their knees to avoid pregnancy.
In response to what I considered an offensive and irresponsible statement, I wrote a piece about just how many sexual positions were possible with your knees closed. Your grandmother read it and quickly confronted me.
“I have some concerns,” she told me after cornering me in the dining room. Her biggest? That you would one day Google my name and find the article in question.
“What is Chet going to think when he reads that?” she asked me. “Have you considered that?”
The truth is, baby boy, I have considered that. I’ve given it quite a bit of thought. And I’d like to address your grandmother’s concerns right here.
First, there is a good reason I wrote the aspirin piece. And it’s not because I’m a sexual exhibitionist. If you are already random Googling, add “2012” “war on women” to your list and read all about it. Many women have responded to Republican attacks on birth control (or “sexual McCarthyism”) by testifying to Congress, writing letters to their legislators or, like your mom, writing their own articles.
They took an important stand, and I’m grateful -- but I believe that many of them took the safe and non-confrontational route. They talked about needing birth control to deal with various health issues. They talked about being married with the societally prescribed 2.2 kids already.
As I listened to many of these women speak, I couldn’t help but notice that there were some important voices missing from the conversation. Voices like mine -- women who might be unmarried or divorced, but still believe in every woman’s right to easy and affordable access to birth control.
One of your grandmother’s accusations was that my piece was impolite. I agree completely. But that was the point -- I worried if more women like me weren’t polite, we’d “polite” ourselves right out of a very important freedom, a choice that we should be able to make without government interference.
As a single mother of a son, it’s important to me that you grow up thinking of women not as fragile creatures that need to be patronized or protected (as sluts or angels, so to speak), but as equals who should have the right to their own power and freedoms. I want you to understand that every person, regardless of sex, gender or orientation, should have the freedom to make their own decisions about their hearts and their bodies. And they should be able to do so without shame or judgment.
We all have some mistakes to make. Much as you may think you have it all figured out (the curse of the teenage mind!), you are going to make mistakes, too. A lot of them. But, with the right mindset, they will help you make all the right choices later.
Which leads me to my last point. I was inspired to write "DIRTY MINDS" because I had so many questions about the nature of love, even at an age when I thought I should have it all figured out. But I quickly realized, as I did all that research, that I’d have to one day answer some of your questions, too. I’m happy to do so, no matter what you might hit me with.
It’s my hope that my honesty in public forums will help us to be more honest with each other at home, less embarrassed and more open -- no matter where our discussions may take us. Perhaps that’s naïve of me, especially if you are now a teenager, but it’s my hope nonetheless. You can ask me anything, baby. If I don’t know the answer, we can figure it out together.
I'm the kind of person who believes in the power of first-hand experiences, exploration and adventure, trial and error, and science over sentiment. I’m far from perfect -- but I strive each and every day to be the best mother to you I can be. So far, I’m fairly confident that I’m hitting that mark.
But I am also compelled to write. I write about what’s happening in the world, what’s happening in the laboratory and what’s happening in my life. You’d be surprised how often the three intersect. And while some of what I write is unquestionably “impolite,” I make no apologies for it.
I’ll admit that it hurts a little to think that the things I’ve written might one day embarrass you, that I might one day embarrass you -- but as my parent-friends often remind me, if it weren’t this, you’d find some other thing about me to be embarrassed about. There’s a fair amount to choose from -- I imagine the list will only grow as I age.
I love you, baby. More than anything. And if all goes as planned, you’ll never doubt it, no matter what you happen to read on the Interwebz.