My sister and I were talking last night about how little censorship my parents ever put in our way. They didn’t censor our tv viewing but since the tv was in the living room they were always there. Ali was commenting on the fact that they let her watch Laugh-In and the Smothers Brothers and other shows that the humour in those days was quite adult in.
I had to point out that they didn’t believe in any kind of censorship. Mom made the librarian let me in to the adult section in the library when I was 10 and the librarian was quite shocked that when I wanted to read Don Quixote the librarian got a sharp reprimand from my mom for trying to stop me. I remember her telling the librarian that I wouldn’t understand the parts she wanted to keep from me anyway and my mom was right. Dulcinea’s profession and other things went right over my head and I thought it was a cool story.
The only thing I can remember her censoring ever was when I wanted to see Zeffrelli’s Romeo and Juliet and she wouldn’t let me, when most of my friends did. She didn’t want my first Shakespeare to be naked Shakespeare. She let me go see “Julius Caesar” with the Latin Club a year later. Caesar being stabbed in the rotunda was fine.
She was always scared I would hurt myself physically doing something which is why Dad never told her we were going down Class IV rapids the first time we went river rafting but they never thought we could hurt ourselves mentally.
The rest of my friends got censored from reading or watching things but we didn’t although she wasn’t real pleased with Dad when he took us to the drive in to see “Disney’s Son of Flubber” and the opening movie was in “In Like Flynn”. I think we were more interested the concession stand and I was reading a book than watching a movie I couldn’t really understand.
When I was in high school I never had a curfew either when all my friends did. Mom’s take was, If I haven’t taught you by now, it’s too late, so the one time I did go on a date because I couldn’t avoid it I made up one. I knew then I didn’t like boys and I didn’t want to be stuck somewhere too late I couldn’t get home from. Mom and Dad were really surprised to see me at 11pm. And I did a strategic duck in the door backwards to avoid the goodnight kiss. Mind you this was in 1972 way before I knew I was gay or that women could be gay. I only knew gay men growing up, I thought, later I learned that wasn’t strictly true. The women were just more closeted.
They wanted us to be critical thinkers and make our own judgments. I don’t think she thought I’d question myself right out of her norms and values. She did have a total meltdown when my brother and I came out and my becoming a pagan certainly wasn’t in her game plan either but neither of my parents believed in limiting the brain in any way. My dad was really socially progressive. He thought prostitution and drugs should be legalized to make them safer which was pretty interesting from a man who was very faithful and never drank or smoked. He and mom were both pro-choice way before Roe V Wade and pro-birth control once it came along. THAT was a really amusing conversation since I had no intention of ever sleeping with a man. Her biggest fear from the time I was little was that I wouldn’t go to college and I would become and unwed mother, uh, never going to be a problem, Mom.
So I guess it was a pretty strange upbringing when you think about it from a couple of Presbyterian Republicans with really broad thinking.