Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I Kissed A Girl & I Liked It - Raising A Daughter In Different Times

The pics in this article are of my two kids. That being said, you might want to listen to this song, I Kissed A Girl by Katie Perry, if you're unfamiliar with it, before continuing with this post.

(Edit: The May 2008 was removed from YouTube, so here's another, if it ceases to work, try another on the 'net.)

I was pulling groceries out the back of my mini-van this weekend when my 12 year old daughter, Casie, yelled from the front seat, "Mom! How ya like this song?"

I could only hear the music and voice quality when I answered, "Sounds great!"

"I never heard words like this," she said excitedly. "What do you think?"

"Can't hear them from back here," I replied. "Come give me a hand."

"Ma, listen, she's singing she kissed a girl and she liked it."

Uh-huh, I thought. I said, "We'll listen to it on YouTube or Napster once we get in the house."

And we did. The words were a shocker and damn, I thought I was shock-proof by now. Great voice, catchy tune, and the kind of beat that makes you wanna dance. But the message, oh the message!

"Whaddya think, Mom?", she asked me, smiling. Smiling!

"I don't know yet, Casie," I answered honestly. "I'll have to think about it. What do you think of the words?"

"I don't know," she said.

"Do they make you want to kiss a girl?"

Her face frowned up. "Nooo..."

At the same time, I wonder. Kids are adventurous and don't always tell the truth about these things. The lyrics makes it sound innocent, inconsequential, and acceptable for any straight girl or young woman to cross the line into bisexuality. It hasn't even been out that long but she told me it's already at the top of the charts.

I entertain the idea that this song - and the copycat versions to come - will influence the thinking of the next generation of girls, much like Bill Clinton getting a blow job in the White House in the 90s made oral sex among teens acceptable. After Bill and Monica's behavior was publicized 24/7 in the news, all the therapists in our office heard more stories from our adolescent clients having oral sex. What used to be a very private act was downgraded to being no more important than a kiss between casual friends.

I have always had a strong belief that gender orientation is biologically programmed in us and we can no more force attraction to a specific gender than we can shift comfortably to being right-handed if we're lefties or vice versa.

As I listen again to this song and read the words on the video, I recall an all-girl sleepover party my daughter went to last summer. At 11, she was innocent enough to tell me everything.

"Ma, we were giving each other back massages, but one girl gave us butt massages."

"Butt massages?"

"Yeah," she answered. "I got one too. It felt good."

I took a deep breath, and right or wrong, gave a push for the straight life. I said, "It'll feel a lot better when a boyfriend gives you one, when you get much older."

I hope I'm right that she's straight, because if her gender orientation is otherwise, my words could heap needless guilt and confusion on her.

"Trust me on this," I added. "If you are straight, and I really think you are, it will feel wonderful when a guy you really like or love does that, and a whole lot more great stuff to your body. Letting girls mess around with you now could confuse you, so until then, please don't let a girl touch you like that again, okay?"

She nodded and asked, "Is that girl bad?"

"Bad? No," I said. "She may have had someone do that to her and she liked it, so she did that to y'all... she probably doesn't know any better. Doesn't sound like any of you did. At any rate, don't be mean and bad mouth her. Gossip is a terrible thing. She may be straight, or one day she may not, but either way, she doesn't deserve to be mistreated."

In my family, there are damn few secrets and we talk about everything. I told my son in front of my daughter.

"That's some gay shit," he said loudly. "A butt massage! Damn."

Then he shook his head, smiling, as he visualized this. Casie giggled too.

"Xavier, you mean you never had a butt massage by one of you're homeboys at a pajama party?", I said jokingly.

"Hell no!", he yelled. "Casie, don't let no girl do that shit to you."

I knew his macho ass would say something like this. It was really interesting to watch my then 18 year old son take the role of a father to his little sister, and say in clear and decisive terms that this behavior was unacceptable.

I couldn't do it the way he did out of the slim fear that one day Casie could wake up and be a lesbian, and I didn't want to F up her head just in case that happens, as I've seen the pain it's caused others.

At the same time, I was glad he took the tough, black and white no gray areas role he did. I don't want her to be a bigot, but I also don't want her to embrace an anything goes, hedonistic lifestyle where she's straight, but if it feels good, does whatevah with anyone, particularly if she's had too much to drink at a party - which is what happened in the song, I Kissed A Girl, which normalizes that kind of lifestyle.

I mentioned the massage incident to a male relative and asked him if thought I handled the situation well. He's an evangelical Christian, but also a social worker. He was aghast. I wasn't terribly surprised.

"No! It wasn't enough! You should report this to the mother of the girl who had the sleepover! And we've got to have a long talk with Casie that this is evil and not God's way. It's a sin, and she has to know this."

"That's a bit heavy-handed, dontcha think? I mean, let's be honest. Kids do experiment, and what if she does turn out as a lesbian one day? She doesn't need all that baggage. It might also make her homophobic and a bigot."

He thought some kind of Biblical perspective and reinforcement was needed. I lied and said I'd think about it. Actually, I thought about homosexuality decades ago and concluded that God wouldn't have been so cruel as to make 5 or 10% of the population gay if he didn't intend them to be like that. I'm not ignorant to the biblical passages forbidding it, but how does anyone really know that the person who wrote them wasn't just sticking in his homophobic opinion?

In the end, I recall the words of man whom I once worked for. He said, "The water seeks it's own level." In other words, she will be what she will be, and aggressively or unconsciously, seek out people like herself.

I can only hope that my guidance influences her to postpone sexual activity until she's mature enough to at least know what her orientation is and not become confused by the anything goes barrage of messages... or become a bigot... or recklessly promiscuous in this hedonistic, materialistic world. I told her this.

"You are beautiful," I also tell her, "inside and out. Hang on to that."

She smiles, and it's the one thing I'm 99.9% sure she will always be.


  1. I liked your article and found it refreshingly honest. Parenting is a balancing act. Come on too strong and they'll clam up, and if you're too lenient they'll run wild. I wish more parents would teach their kids to be kind and open minded and at the same time, have their own standards.

  2. Yes, she does look beautiful, and so do the other two! Great portraits!

    I agree that the balancing act you're doing here as a parent is impressive. If I'm reading it right, I'm also impressed by how you own up to your own homophobic feelings. I was relieved to read of your acceptance of the possibility that your kids might be homosexual.

    There's a gray area there that I think is good to be in, between confining a child's sexuality too tightly and encouraging its freedom too strongly (encouraging, as you said, an attitude of "anything goes"). Starkly black/white, good/bad thinking is easier in a way, but it's also just too simple, and sometimes of course destructive.

  3. Thanks Macon. For the record, I don't perceive myself as being homophobic; I just strongly prefer she'll be straight AND not promiscuous no matter what her gender orientation because life is hard for the teen whose 'different'. She's seeing that now in her friends, and the gay ones are a source of teasing and gossip. She's very respectful of others as I am, as this is how I have taught her to be. If Mother Nature has different plans for her sexual orientation, she knows I'll love and stand by her for eternity.

  4. Just a note, gender orientation would be how she views herself as either female or male. I think the word you're looking for is sexual orientation? :) This was a nice read, I wish my own mother had the foresight to been so understanding about the possibility of having a non-straight child

  5. Thanks for the tip, CS - I always used the words gender and sexual interchangeably with the word orientation. Thank you too for the compliment. I've seen how destructive harsh parental condemnation is on teens in my practice. These kids are miserable and some were suicidal. I swore I'd never do that to mine.

  6. Hi Kit,

    Great post. You mentioned that people are biologically programmed to be homosexuals, then in another of your posts (''Please don't cut my arm off''), you stated that education and upbringing could be the cause of homosexuality. So, I don't really know what to think...

  7. O, thanks. Yeah, I do believe that the sexual orientation of some gays are determined in utero. What I said in the other article is a quote from my father. He believed that more homosexuals are made than born.

    I've met an extraordinary number of adults who were:
    a) molested by a same sex much older kid or adult as children,
    b) had an usual amount of same sex sexual play with other kids as kids,
    c) had mothers who were bipolar
    d) had one or both parents and or a high number of older brothers who were emotionally and/or physically abusive to them.

    Although no one has yet to 'prove' anything yet, I think some were born this way, and others made. As for the percentage, I don't know.

    BTW, I don't think 'education' pushes a kid in one direction or the other. We see this through religion and/or moral training (such as when my son told my daughter "don't let no girl do that to you; that shit ain't cool", but it only serves, in my view, to send homosexual behavior underground and in the closet if it exists.

    I people have occasional bisexual experiences and impulses in their lives but are inherently straight. Pre-teens and teens can get a little confused over whether this makes the gay.

    This is why I gently encouraged my preference - the straight lifestyle - over the gay one, with my daughter.

    At the same time, I left her an escape exit, so to speak, so if she does determine she's a lesbian one day, she'll know I love and accept her and doesn't have to run around feeling guilty and hiding in the closet.

  8. Well I kissed a girl and I liked it. Hell, I might kiss one again and I'm definitely straight.


  9. HI Kit,
    I have been exploring your blog. I am really enjoying it. The whole issue of sexual orientation has become such a challenge for parents and teens. And as a therapist, I have found an increase in girls claiming to be lesbians. It is disproportionate to the population. Often these girls, as you mentioned, have come from abusive homes with absent fathers and mentally ill mothers. This is not to say that some lesbians are not born. I agree with your assessment that some homosexuals are, indeed, born that way. But the media has created an anything goes campaign and it is messing with the identity of a lot of young girls. They end up experimenting and then develop a reputation and end up foreclosing on a fraudulent identity. I recall the Clinton oral sex years. I was working with at risk youth and all of a sudden it was oral sex parties everywhere. Now its cool to be gay which means that kids are starting to define their friendships in sexual terms much earlier than they used to. It is sad that they would sexualize their same sex friendships. I have some friends from High School to this day. If we had turned it into something sexual, our friendship could not have lasted. Your kids are lucky to have you. But there are so many kids who don't have strong parents who recognize teachable moments.

  10. SFall, I'm delighted you left a comment on an older post; don't get many of those which is too bad since much of the stuff I write about is fairly timeless.

    This upcoming generation of teens is a doozy. Bisexuality is so wide spread in the middle and high schools in my area that I've pondered what happened that is so dramatic that it altered the biological sexual orientation of so many adolescents?

    I'm not yet certain if that's even the right question...


Hi, this is Kit.

I haven't posted since summer 2010, and comment moderation has been on for a very long time.

My old blogger friends (you know who you are) are welcome to email me.

I can be reached at: