Mar 072012

I love President Obama. I do. And when his administration defied the FDA on emergency contraception, I tried to figure out how it might have a been a reasonable thing to do.

I tried to cope with his saying that as a father of daughters, he felt it was “common sense” not to make emergency contraception so readily available to his little girls.

And now we hear that the President’s call to Sandra Fluke was a lesson for those same little girls.

But not a lesson about reproductive freedom. No no. A lesson about civics. He said:

“I thought about Malia and Sasha, and one of the things I want them to do as they get older is to engage in issues they care about, even ones I may not agree with them on,” Mr. Obama said at a televised news conference at the White House. “I want them to be able to speak their mind in a civil and thoughtful way, and I don’t want them attacked or called horrible names because they’re being good citizens.”

Jezebel, for all its feminism, when it reported on this, called it heart-warming.

… well sure.

It would have been more impressive if he’d said, “One of the things I want them to do as they get older is advocate for their own sexual and reproductive rights, to which they are entitled. I want them to be able to have happy sex lives, without having children until they’re ready, and I don’t want them attacked and called horrible names because they’re sexual human beings alive on earth in twenty-first century. And, by the way, I’m in favor of all women having access to affordable, effective contraception.”

But okay, let’s start with “speaking their minds” and “being good citizens.” He would absolutely have been skewered for expressing a radical idea such as “my female children are sexual people who may one day want to have potentially reproductive sex, and I want them to be able to have a reasonable conversation about how their individual decisions about sex fit into the national discourse around healthcare and equal rights, without being treated like objects of male eroticization.”

It’s a radical enough idea, I suppose, for twenty-first century America, that a black woman could be civil and thoughtful, without throwing sex into the mix.

(Do I forget how far we have to go? Yes I do. Yes I do.)

Emily Nagoski

  4 Responses to “Civil is the new sexual. I guess.”

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  1. That’s because one of the things he disagrees with them about is whether or not they get to have happy sex lives when they’re ready.

    My dad is like this too, with my advocacy. It’s cool in its own way, but because I’m working on behalf of my own dignity, it feels consistently weird that he’s okay with me advocating for access to a good life, but not okay with me . . . having access to a good life.

  2. You may (read: probably) have already seen this, but I came across this article, and it helped contextualize just how far we do have to go:–_and_why_we%27ll_still_be_fighting_about_it_100_years_from_now/?page=entire

    I don’t agree with every word of it (and the use of “patriarchy” always makes me think twice about whether I’m just being reactionary) but man… there is a long, long slog ahead of us. Thanks for being one of the torchbearers on that slog!

  3. To be fair, how many daughters are comfortable with their fathers speaking publicly of their (future) sex lives?

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