Thoughts from my study of Horror, Media, and Narrrative

Don’t Take It Lying Down

Let me start by saying that I very rarely get upset at American Dad. Okay, sure, I will often comment that it appears to be the less-funny cast-off sibling of Family Guy (and yes, I get that they have different premises) but I’ve never really had an issue with the show.

Until last night.

At one point the show depicted Francine, the mother of a typical family (you know, father, mother, son, daughter, alien), hysterical that she was pregnant. “You told me I was on the pill!” she lamented.

Say what?

All right, I will admit that I laughed a little bit at this but then I immediately became upset (interestingly not so much with the show itself as with the character of Francine). “Take control of your own reproductive health!” I yelled back at the screen, disgusted. “Certainly nobody else is going to.”

As I began to pull together my article for the week, I began to think about the sentiment that I had uttered—although we might all hope that our partners have our best interests in mind, we can never count on it. This is not to say that we don’t love your partners or don’t trust them, but simply that we are making sure that we are making the right choices for ourselves.

The scene from American Dad also reminded me of one of the early episodes of Desperate Housewives when Lynette complained that she could not get her husband to use birth control and, as a result, ended up with way too many children. While I certainly sympathize with the stress of having to raise some pretty difficult kids, I also don’t—there should have been better communication to prevent this scenario from occurring if one of the two parents didn’t want children.

Truth be told, I’ve certainly pushed my own agenda in the bedroom and there have been times when I’ve gotten away with a lot more than I thought that I could. In retrospect, I assumed that all involved parties were comfortable with the various arrangements but I’m fairly confident that I never explicitly discussed anything before it happened—I took a lack of objection as an assent. Perhaps this wasn’t the best way to go about things, but some part of me felt that I was engaging in sex with someone who had a clear sense of judgment and I assumed that participants would speak up if they felt negatively about something.

Okay, so maybe I’m more of a stereotypical guy than I thought.

The moral of all of this is that I think that it’s important to empower each individual to be an advocate on his or her own behalf. When it’s just the two of you (or more, if that’s your thing) in the bedroom, there aren’t any judges to settle disputes or dictate how things will go—in this case, it’s up to you to voice your opinion about what you want to do and, somewhat more importantly, what you will not do. You should not feel pressured to do things that you do not want to do and you should feel comfortable expressing your opinion in bed. And, on the other side of the coin, I think that we all have to be able to listen to our partners and give them what they need. Ultimately, while it might be intimidating to speak out (actually, when is it not?) all of this is important because we are not just picking fights, but fighting to maintain our dignity and our health.

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