A.J. McLean is just saying what’s on the mind of every dad of daughters. In an interview with Refinery 29, the Backstreet Boy was asked how he and his wife Rochelle came up with the names for their girls Ava James, 4, and Lyric Dean, 2 months. After going through the baby name song-and-dance, McLean added, “I will also go on record by saying, and I told my wife this, I hope that both of my daughters are gay because that takes all penis out of my life — I do not want to deal with boys ever.”
Let’s be honest. Shouldn’t McLean really be worrying about how he’s going to explain his appearance on Nick Viall’s season of The Bachelor to his girls?
We can’t come down too hard on McLean. He’s in the throes of the new baby sleep schedule and he’s a consummate jokester in interviews. I seriously doubt he meant to gloss over sexism. But his naïveté is almost adorable. Removing men from his daughters’ beds may solve a few things for him, but it doesn’t do a lick of good for them. Here’s what women who are lesbians still deal with even though they don’t have intimate relationships with men.
Even if McLean’s daughters grow up to be nuns, they’ll still face prejudice. Maybe a teensy bit less if they actually live in a convent. Or on the side of a Swiss mountaintop as subsistence farmers divorced from the world (now I’m just dreaming).
As I type this, there is a slightly sauced, possibly homeless man sitting across the table from me charging his cell phone. He keeps telling me how pretty I am and that he’d just like to kiss me. You can’t make this stuff up.
If a woman lives in society, she will confront leering, catcalling and gender-defined roles in sports, work, family, and appearance. She will also confront my favorite, pay gaps attributed to lack of experience. Most American women are just the first or second generation of full-time working women in their families. We get that our résumés don’t show decades of career climbing and we’re happy to earn that pay raise, thank you very much. But the things that kept our grandmothers and moms from the workplace shouldn’t keep any more women from starting and advancing their careers at the same time as their male peers. And arguments that men need to earn more because they’re family providers or advancement linked to the potential of pregnancy — those need to die out immediately. Dead, gone, burned and buried.
Whether women are gay, straight, bi, trans or asexual, there is no escape. Every woman will have to confront the messages about how she should look and what she should want.
It’s redundant to say the teen years are hard or that young people can be cruel, but for nonbinary kids, those years can be fraught with agonizing conflict. Young people growing up in liberal enclaves like Hollywood may have more daily support, but they’ll still be confronted by news about attacks on people just like them all around the world.
Worse, lesbians can be the targets of brutal beatings or “corrective rape” (ugh, my stomach turns even typing that term). A 2013 study found that nearly half of bisexual women have reported being raped, 85 percent of them by a male partner. And 43 percent of lesbian women have experienced rape, stalking or physical violence by a partner.
To be fair, straight women and most men are just as likely to be angered and frustrated by hate crimes against any community. But we’ll never have the additional question, “Am I in danger because of [X characteristic]?” looming over us.
Love in any gender can break your heart. And the actual problem of dating — which women and, I think, many men also know — isn’t isolated to the male sex drive. It’s true that women are traditionally considered more committed and respectful of their partners, less likely to hit it and quit it. But relationships with people are always fraught with the potential for imbalance and heartbreak.
By the time McLean’s girls are old enough to date, the hookup culture will be more than 40 years old. It may be harder than ever to determine who’s after what, or by then, the pendulum might swing back toward a slower dating process. More likely is that every young person will still experience the sting of loss and every parent will want to assuage it.
And, just a thought, a dad might be even more conflicted by wanting to string up their child’s lesbian ex since they don’t have the horny teen boy experience to relate to and blame. Didn’t think about that, did you, A.J.?
Maybe McLean can just take comfort that he’s not alone. His feelings exist even halfway around the world with a saucy little Scottish girl and her headstrong pop.
I’m sure we’ll hear more about the McLean family over the years, but I hope someone also checks in on this adorable dad and daughter in a decade or so. I really, really want to see who comes out on top.