"Can we talk about Princess Leia?"
"OK, but just for a sec because then it is time for songs and cuddles."
T and I were snuggled up and chatting after looking through the most amazing Star Wars pop-up book.
"Why does Jabba the Hutt put a chain around her neck?"
"So she can't escape."
"But why does he do it?"
"Because he is a really bad and evil and despicable character. He made her into a slave. And that is evil. No person should belong to another person. That has happened for real and it is one of the most terrible things imaginable."
"But why doesn't he just put her in the Rancor monster pit like the other guy?"
"Do you want to keep talking about this? We can, but it is late and it will mean no songs tonight. Just talks and cuddles."
"I want to talk about Leia."
"OK." Deep Breath. "He likes to look at her. He thinks she is beautiful and wants to keep her around to look at her. But she is just an object to him. What he is doing is bad."
"What's an object."
"A thing. Like that lamp over there. If he treats her like an object, he ignores that she is human. Listen, there are men out there who don't think women can be as smart as them, or the same as them. They don't think women are equal. This has gone on for a long time. But women fought back. Now women can vote. They can do whatever a man can do. But still, not all men believe women are equal and the same as them."
He was quiet for a moment.
"Listen, T. If you are kind. If you try hard. If you treat girls with the same respect that you treat boys. No matter what, I will be proud of you. The girls at your school? Except for the fact that they have vaginas and you have a penis, they are exactly the same as you."
He was quiet for another moment.
"Why does Jabba the Hutt dress Princess Leia like that?"
"Because he likes to look at her body. He likes her more than just wanting to be her friend. Sometimes a person likes another person more than usual. Kind of like the way that Mommy and Daddy like each other. But what he is doing is wrong. You do not force someone to show you their body, no matter how much you like them. That is a choice two people need to make together. And what a person's body looks like shouldn't matter. I love you. And I would love you exactly the same no matter what you look like. Because you are my son and I love the sweet person you are becoming."
"Well. You love me, but you also love the way I look."
Damn it. Kid isn't even 5 and he is calling me out. I do love the way he looks. He is freaking adorable. But I see him through the rose-colored glasses of a mother's love. I truly would find him beautiful no matter what.
"Listen, what Jabba the Hutt does to Leia is despicable."
"What does despicable mean?"
"Evil and terrible. Jabba the Hutt is wrong. We do not treat people like they are less than people. We do not take away their freedom. We do not look at them like objects."
"T. I need you to hear this. This is so important. Women are not there for you to look at. They are not there for men to enjoy. They are there for themselves. Do you think I am less than Daddy?"
"Daddy is not in charge of me. I am not in charge of Daddy. We are partners and we are equal."
"This stuff is really important."
He looks at me.
"Does Jabba the Hutt make Leia dance?"
"Um. I don't think so."
"OK. I'm done. You can go now."
"We can talk about it more later if you want. Give me a kiss."
"OK. Good night."
Be kind. Try hard. Treat girls with the same respect you treat boys.
I couldn't be more sincere when I say that is all I want from my sons.