When I was in kindergarten, my mother became pregnant with my brother. Curious as all get out how that baby got in there, and how that baby would get out, I turned to my parents; and my parents answered me. They didn't get into the nitty gritty details of romance and passion, but they also didn't blush. They explained the biology of how a baby is conceived and how a baby is born. My father, a pediatrician, and my mother, a librarian, shared age-appropriate books with me and used real words for real body parts. They gave me the gift of scientific information. Not quite 6, I understood my own potential to one day become a mother. By the spring of my kindergarten year, I was more informed about reproductive health and female anatomy than Missouri Senator hopeful, Todd Akin.
Take a second and read this, if you haven't already: Todd Akin: One More Male Politician Clueless About Female Biology by Lisa Belkin (one of my favorite writers on all things parenthood).
As a mother of sons, I take this article to heart. If grown men - men who've gone to Ivy League schools and married women who presumably find them bright and attractive, men who've won the votes of female voters who care enough to find time in their very busy days to make their way to the voting booths, men who get nominated by pools of other elected officials to serve on committees devoted to science - if those men, don't know the basics about how a woman's body works, then I have my work cut out for me.
It is my job as a mommy, to make sure my boys know that the female body doesn't have "a way of shutting" anything down. They need to know that the word vagina, while a little weird since it doesn't really rhyme with anything and perhaps too close for comfort to the name Regina, is not a swear word as Representative Mike Callton might have them believe. When my sons are older, I will tell them what rape is. I will explain that rape doesn't require an adjective.
The luxury of knowledge is something I have taken for granted. But seeing the grotesque display of ignorance amongst some of our nation's politicians, I now realize - and not a moment too late - that knowledge is a gift. My responsibility to my children, and I believe now to my country, is to raise boys into men who value facts.
As of today, my younger son wants to be a farmer and my older son wants to be a paleontologist. Perhaps they'll go on to see their boyhood predictions to truth, or perhaps something else will strike their fancy (say, maybe before dinner). However, whatever they decide to "be" when they grow up, if I've done my part, they will "be" men who know that women's bodies belong to women.
I am in the business of raising men. That's a task I don't take lightly. My wish for my children as they mature, is that their knowledge gives them both the confidence to speak out and the wisdom to stay quiet.
As for me, I wish I could have a word with Todd Akin's mama.