Channing Tatum appears to have one of the happiest Hollywood marriages around. So when he speaks about love, people tend to listen.
In an open letter published by Cosmopolitan, he writes what he hopes his young daughter will aspire to when it comes to love and sex.
“I don’t want her looking to the outside world for answers,” he writes. “My highest hope for her is just that she has the fearlessness to always be her authentic self, no matter what she thinks men want her to be.“
In a lot of ways, his sentiments are refreshing. Much of what the world tells us about love and sex doesn’t help people find happiness. Women shouldn’t feel pressured to be something they are not just to keep a guy. They should be, as he writes, enough as they are. Being open about our experiences with love and sex is something that many of the I Believe in Love writers agree can be really healthy.
The problem is that Tatum suggests that women find and express themselves through uninhibited sexual exploration. The Magic Mike star has taken his nearly four year old daughter to rehearsals for the stage adaption of the hit film about male strippers, a production he writes is part of his effort to strip away “standards of social and sexual” behavior.
But the sexual freedom that Tatum recommends doesn’t always work the way we think it will. Britt writes that she thought she wanted commitment-free sex “but deep down I knew I was looking for love.” The reality is sex isn’t casual, it’s a big deal- with physical and emotional effects that many young women are not fully aware of or prepared for.
Shannon writes that she realized later on that she began hooking up because she “mistook temporary relief for true self-love. At the time, I called my actions ‘liberated’ and ‘free spirited.’ But the truth is, I was only hiding from my deepest fears about who I was.”
These women seem to have realized that exploring the options wasn’t nearly as fulfilling as committed love. That’s something Tatum seems to recognize in a touching paragraph where he describes when his future wife first revealed her love to him. He writes she gave herself fully and “accepted every part of me, the good and the bad,” something he “wouldn’t have known how to ask for” before he experienced it.
It’s clear that if you don’t know what to expect, you often don’t know what you are missing out on. Rather than restricting love, social and sexual standards of behavior are supposed to help people find it. Each person might have a “unique road map” to their heart, like Tatum suggests, but a journey of sexual self-discovery isn’t going to be a joyride if we don’t know which direction we are going. Our authentic selves can be found when we choose to commit to one person in love, not by a sexually permissive lifestyle.
Tatum expresses the hope that his daughter will similarly know the value of “leaping into love with both feet and giving our full selves without expecting anything in return.” A romantic relationship where a couple gives themselves to each other fully is something we should all aspire to, but it is also one that is only realized in marriage. Our highest hope should be that women are taught to have expectations and to fearlessly pursue committed love, because they deserve it.
Anders Krusberg/ Peabody Awards
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