It’s The Ears
Older guys, usually fathers themselves, tell the joke a lot, usually with the assumption that I either see the world the way they do, or that when I’m older I will. The joke is, “why are sons easier to raise than daughters? Because when you have a son, you only have to worry about one penis. When you have a daughter, you have to worry about all of them.”
Ha, ha. Like the jokes about meeting the boyfriend while cleaning shotguns, the stated or unstated premise of this entire family of humor is that I want to, and should take action to, prevent boys from having sex with my daughter.
I reject this premise. My daugher will one day be an adult. I want her to figure out for herself if she wants men, or women, or both, or nobody as her sex partners. I want her to decide who her partners will be, and when. I want to teach her to know what she’s ready for and when; and to have the self-knowledge and assertiveness not to do anything she’s not ready for. Except as stupid oversimplification, keeping boys from having sex with her doesn’t really enter into what I see as my job.
I don’t like to laugh along with shit that I disagree with. That perpetuates people’s belief that their views are generally accepted. When I disagree, I want to note my disagreement. So after hearing the same stupid joke a few times, I’ve developed a response that I’ve used repeatedly. It either starts the conversation I want, or it ends the one I don’t want, but either way, it works like a charm.
“It’s not the penises I worry about, it’s the ears.”
“What do you mean the ears?”
“They have to hear ‘NO.’ As long as they can hear when she says no, I’m not worried.”
It’s slightly more complicated than that, but it’s close enough for a one-liner.
[Updated to add, as Shiva pointed out in comments and as I’m ashamed to say I didn’t realize when I wrote this, using ears and hearing as a blanket term for accepting communication is frightfully ablist. Utterly and completely my bad. Must rethink.]