Friday, October 17, 2014

Marcus Luttrell’s Rules for Dating Daughters

Afghanistan war hero and author of the harrowing memoir Lone Survivor (and portrayed by Mark Wahlberg in the outstanding movie of the same name), retired Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell is the very definition of “tough as nails.” So when he lays down rules for dating his daughter, young suitors would be well advised to think long and hard before proceeding.

He recently posted an amusing Facebook status that went viral, listing the daunting Herculean tasks he requires of prospective dates for Addie when she grows up (she is currently only two years old, but Luttrell is getting a head start):

Yea if FB is around when it's time for her to start dating I'm gonna make him contact every father of a daughter on here, MMA fighter, boxer, police officer, fire fighter and let's not forget the toughest of all Prison guards. to get their blessing. Oh... in person by the way. Then he will have to do the same thing w/all my teammates while they show him the team armory. Paint the house, mend some fence, cut the lawn, rope a tornado, bottle up a hurricane, and put out a Forrest fire w/a squirt gun etc... He gets that done then I'll let him have my cell number so they can face time while I hold the phone. Thinking about having a chastity belt made w/a SEAL trident engraved on it and reads "Ask father for key." He's the 6'5 250lbs tattooed maniac that's chained to the wall. w/the bad temper and foaming from the mouth that's sleeps under the tarp in the back yard w/the fire ants and snakes. Nothing to difficult. Look forward to seeing the first candidate in about 16 years I'll be waiting.

As the father of two girls who are around the same age as Addie, I can assure you that Luttrell is only half-joking. This Papa Bear protectiveness has been around since the beginning of time. I and every father I’ve ever known have “joked” similarly about greeting our daughter’s would-be date while pointedly cleaning a shotgun at the kitchen table, growling lines like “I’m not afraid to go back to prison” – but the subtext is very serious indeed: don’t even think about approaching my daughter with dishonorable intentions.

Many internet commenters complained that this attitude is archaic, “patriarchal,” and even damaging to the daughters and to their relationship with their dads. “Luttrell will be lucky if his daughter doesn't rebel and get pregnant just to spite that kind of control,” one said. “What this teaches his daughter is that some man is in charge of her body: her daddy,” wrote another. One commenter went so far as to say that “bigots and misogynists often hide behind humor, and this ‘dating my daughter’ bit has always reeked of patriarchal misogyny to me.”

In addition to their humorlessness, people like this seem incapable of accepting that it is a father’s natural and proper instinct to protect his daughter – yes, even with lethal force if necessary – until she is ready to leave the nest. It’s instinctual and right to protect one’s son as well, of course, but especially one’s daughter. Sons bring their own set of problems, and should be raised to be chivalrous gentlemen, but they don’t get pregnant and are highly unlikely to be sexually assaulted by their female dates.

A few months ago, a very different set of rules for dating one’s daughter went viral as well – the “Feminist Father” t-shirt which Huffington Post described as “pitch-perfect.” It reads:

Rules for Dating My Daughter
1) I don’t make the rules
2) You don’t make the rules
3) She makes the rules
4) Her body, her rules

One commenter who approved of this “feminist” take wrote that until society realizes that “we can't control a woman’s choice… we will continue to have gender issues in this country.”

To put it bluntly, this is just politically correct absurdity. A teenage girl is not yet a woman, and until a daughter (or son) is legally an adult and on her or his own, the parents make the rules. This is not patriarchy or misogyny or slavery; it is common sense – something that feminist extremism has driven into uncommonness. Teenagers are bundles of agitated hormones and sexual impulses that they barely can understand, much less override. They are normally not mature enough to rein in those impulses to protect themselves (indeed, many adults never reach that level of maturity).

It is a father’s duty (a mother’s too, but we’re focusing on dads here) to raise his daughter to respect herself and protect herself by making smart life choices (too many commenters assumed that, based on his lighthearted Facebook post, Luttrell himself doesn’t understand this obvious point).

Toward that end, to borrow from Meg Meeker’s excellent book Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters, a father must recognize that he is the most important man in his little girl’s life, that he is her first love and her hero, that she wants him to protect her, and that the best thing he can do for her is to be the role model for the man that he would want her to end up with someday. That is better protection for her than any shotgun – although a shotgun makes a great backup.

(This article originally appeared here on Acculturated, 10/13/14)