This is a question that must never be asked if the unexpected author of the sex-and-relationships guide is Jane Fonda, an icon to liberals everywhere. Even Michelle Obama recently oozed to People magazine that Fonda was her role model for what she wants to be in her 70s, "a beautiful, engaged, politically savvy, sharp woman."
Fonda drew the same worshipful attention when she showed up on TV shows to promote her new book "Being a Teen: Everything Teen Girls & Boys Should Know About Relationships, Sex, Love, Health, Identity & More." She's an adult role model, a wise coach for America's youth. The Hanoi Jane who spit on our soldiers serving in Vietnam and sat behind an anti-aircraft gun that shot at our planes is long gone.
On NBC's "Today" on March 4, co-host Matt Lauer embarrassed himself pandering to the author. "I don't want to make it sound like you're old, because you're not old," said Lauer. "I am old," Fonda admitted, underlining the obsequious treatment she receives. Fonda said she didn't know enough about sex when she was a teen, and didn't know enough to teach her own children when they were teens. Suddenly, she's found all the answers.
Some of her book's message is sensible, even simplistic, but in an age when simple truths are so elusive, it's refreshing. Fonda emphasizes the need to resist a peer-pressured rush into sex. Ah, how nice. But there it ends. If the teen is ready and willing, it's a different life lesson. Now the emphasis turns to the usual libertine message pushing buckets of contraceptives and an end to any moral "hang-ups" about hookups: "Your body is not to be feared, nor should you feel shame or guilt about it, no matter what." She says teens feel shame about their bodies because America is "very puritanical on one level, and yet there's a lot of sexuality in the media."
Ought that last part have been a focus of the discussion? Not in a thousand years. It is a given that sexuality in the media will never be part of the discussion on NBC's "Today" if the parent company is responsible for the reproachable product, and never mind that this network is a relentless button-pusher of sexuality, especially when millions of impressionable children are watching. Ought that not to have been a focus of the interview? Fonda wasn't about to bite the hand that pets her and tells her she's not old.