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« Arts in the Moonlight Re-redux | Main | Short Stuff »

October 06, 2002

Parental Discretion Advised


You’ve asked me what it’s like to be a parent in today’s sexually saturated environment. Well, let’s just say it’s kind of tricky.

My adolescence left me with decidedly ambiguous attitudes about how parents should deal with their teenage children’s sexuality. My parents tried to bravely overlook my very existence as a sexual being, although somehow they communicated that if I got some girl into trouble there would be hell to pay, mister. (They needn’t have worried: the spectacle of watching them fight regularly as clockwork every Sunday afternoon in combination with my own stupifying clumsiness with the opposite sex was the best birth control method ever contrived.) While the resulting lack of unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases during my teenage years was undoubtedly a good thing, this approach did leave me mystified as to how they expected me to ever make them grandparents.

So I have a certain inner tension when confronted with sexually charged material in the presence of my children—a confrontation that occurs every morning. I drive my teenage daughter and a friend to school, and they insist on listening to a Top-40 radio station that has some fairly explicit material on it. My mental advice to the musicians and the diskjockey tends to be: Hey, sex is great, guys, without it none of us would be here, but please remember that around adolescents this stuff is like high-explosive Brylcreem—a little dab’ll do ya.

Dispenser of High-Explosive Brylcreem

The other day my parental hackles started to rise when the lyrics from Nelly’s song “Hot in Herre” floated out of my radio speaker:

I was like, good gracious, ass bodacious
Flirtatious, tryin’ to show patience
Lookin’ for the right time to shoot my steam (you know)

My trigger finger was itching to find the channel changer when the “hook” suddenly came on:

I said: It’s gettin’ hot in here (so hot)
So take off all your clothes

Which, I will grant you, is kind of funny; but the real kicker was the next line:

Docile chorus of female singers:
I am gettin’ so hot, I wanna take my clothes off

At this point I relaxed—false alarm. It was obvious that we had crossed the line from discussing any aspect of reality and entered into the oldest male fantasy in the book: being able to control a woman and make her do just what you want her to, with no fuss or muss. I looked over at my daughter, who presents a placid, easy-going exterior to the world, while actually possessing a will of iron (which she inherits from her knows-her-own-mind-thank-you-very-much mother.) Platinum-selling artists the world over could try lines like this on my daughter for years without ever once getting her to coo obediently “I am getting so hot, I wanna take my clothes off.” Frankly, once I listened closely, I realized that even the girls getting paid to sing this nonsense on the radio were managing to do it without a shred of conviction.

Dream on, Nelly

I spent the rest of my drive wondering why this is such a common male fantasy. I suspect it’s because for the first twelve months or so of life, you genuinely do possess the ability to get a woman (your mom, anyway) to give you everything you want. Regrettably, of course, at around 18-months reality sets in, and you realize that women pretty much rule the world (assuming you're heterosexual and want to reproduce, anyway). From that point on, getting a woman to do anything means setting up a win-win situation—you’ve got to figure out her agenda and how your, er, proposition will help her get where she's trying to go.

In other words, despite the pop culture myth of the male sex god, the truth of the matter is that women, including my daughter, don’t do anything that isn’t basically their own idea. Which is not necessarily the most reassuring thought given the direction my daughter's head is going these days. (I know what she's thinking when she passes those pimply faced whippersnappers!) But, you know, I would like to be a grandfather someday.



posted by Friedrich at October 6, 2002


I am young and do come from a high sexed music generation. Even at my young age I still think that some styles of music are too heavy on the sex but there are bot always aimed and teenages but for people who can get into clubs but still hte radio plays them because they know that they appeal to teens such as my self.

Posted by: cathryn on August 5, 2003 4:36 PM

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