Monday, May 17, 2010

Sing It

This is a post I wish I could get into the fists of every one of my first-year students -- especially the women, of course, but the men too, to some extent.

It's Amanda over at Pandagon, on that Red Families/Blue Families book, among other issues: specifically, on that divided way those of us who are Blue and those of us who are Red approach the notion of sex and marriage.

Red state families raise their kids (and especially their women) to believe if they aren't married they aren't anything.  I see this with my women students all the time.  Nineteen years old, twenty years old, twenty-two years old, smart as any student I have taught anywhere, smart enough they need to be thinking of getting their Ph.D. somewhere, and -- well, they've got two kids already, or sometimes three; or they're on their second or third marriage.  "I can't leave Fort Smith," they tell me.  "Eddie's job is here."

Or, if by some blind, blissful stroke of fate they have managed not to marry?  They are wracked with guilt.  They feel like horrible failures.  What is wrong with me, they moan, that I can't get married?  I tell them, when they ask (I tried to stay out of it if they don't ask, though it is FUCKING HARD) that they should not even be thinking about marriage until they're 28 or 30, until they have their Ph.D. I say, but then I relent and say, okay, until you have your masters.

Better no man than the wrong man, I tell them.  What are you thinking?

They look at me like I am speaking French.

Blue state families raise their kids (this is the book, it's research now, not me, though in my experience it is true) to get the education, to put the education and the life's work first.  Once you have that, then you can look to whatever relationship you might want to get involved with. I know that's how we're raising our kid.  I've explained to her (only when she asks, mind you) about sex, what it is, how it works, what sort of partner she wants to avoid doing it with, what kind of partner she'll want to seek when she's ready; and every lesson ends with a diatribe about contraception:  "And if you do decide to start doing sex," I always say, "WHAT are you going to do?"

She rolls her eyes.  "Mom, I'm twelve!"

"I said WHAT are you going to do?"

"Use condoms, use protection, I know, I know.  Geez."

Whereas, she tells me, the Red state kids at her school aren't even allowed to speak the word sex.  "How do they know what to do about it then?" I asked her.  "What if someone tries something on them?"

But I guess that will never happen to a bride of Jesus.

1 comment:

sugaredharpy said...

Thank you for this! I'm not sure if it was the same book, but I read this line recently and damn if it isn't true:

In red states, families makes adults and in blue states, adults make families.

Welcome to my big ol' red state where at 17 I was pregnant and making a family with the wrong man because I felt I had to. I'm damn lucky to have made it to my MA. (Now, I'm not so sure I want that PhD anymore, job security for an art historian sucks all around...but at least it's an option for me now.)