Wednesday, September 4, 2013

FYI (if you're a self-righteous blogger)

There is a blog post going around (you can read it here) in the form of a letter to teenage girls who post sexualized selfies on Instagram and Facebook.

As a mom, I can tell you I am 100% against sexualized selfies of teenage girls. You know the ones, we've all seen them. Wide eyes, pouty face, and a hint of cleavage. They're all over the place and if/when I ever see Munchkin has posted one somewhere you'd better believe a talk will be had (but not before I demand she deletes it and we pray it isn't saved somewhere in someone else's control).

But will I scroll through Bug and Goober's feeds and demand that they unfriend or block any girl they know that has posted one? I think that's a little counterproductive.

And I'll tell you why.

Because this is my blog and that's what I do.

First, it is up to Bug and Goober to view girls and women in a responsible manner. There will always be sexualized images. There will always be women walking around with not enough clothing on. There will be pool parties and girls in bikinis and low rise jeans and bare midriffs. This is the world we live in.

It is not my job to hide their eyes from every scantily clad girl in the world. It is, however, my job to teach them how to view a woman - no matter what she is wearing.  It seems to me that Mrs. Hall from aforementioned blog needs to spend a little less time shaming teenage girls and a little more time teaching her own young sons that all girls and women, regardless of her minimal dress or decision to post a selfie on Instagram, deserve their respect and good manners. Even girls who make bad decisions with boys who don't respect them, even girls with a reputation, even girls who don't seem respectable - they all deserve their respect.

Wasn't it not too long ago that the country was in uproar because of a certain group of abhorrent young men who molested an intoxicated young girl and then decided to brag to all of the Internet about it? It is our responsibility, as parents, to make sure that kind of thing doesn't happen again. On both sides. Our girls need to be taught to respect themselves and our boys need to be taught to respect.

Secondly (that's right, there's a secondly), teenage girls are - oh, how shall I say this - typically lacking in good judgement. That's not to say this is true in all cases, but the vast, vast majority. I know this because I was once a teenage girl and I remember. Caught somewhere between wanting to be loved by everyone and wanting to express themselves, teenage girls need special guidance from their community. They must know that they are liked and accepted by their peers and sadly, they will do just about anything to receive that affirmation. Making sure they know they have it before they do something desperate to get it, is our mission as a community.

Having my boys or anyone's boys block them or unfriend them only fuels this fire. It only makes it worse, it is causing the exact opposite reaction. Self-esteem is such a delicate flower for a young girl and sadly, it seems there are so many people (young boys, young girls, and grown adults) just waiting in the wings to put our young girls down. And then we wonder why they run to the first boy who pays them any sort of attention.

It is a great responsibility to raise children to be kind and respectful and to know right from wrong even when everyone else is doing something different. It is the most difficult job I have ever taken on and also the most rewarding.

In our family, we focus on elevating our own moral compass and we try to bring others around us up with us, rather than stepping on their heads in our own self-righteousness.

Edit: I had to include a link to this post, which said it better than I could and made me laugh at the same time.


Anonymous said...[Reply to comment]

Well said!! I'm soooo with you on this!!! You are a more REAL mom like myself :) I too read Mrs. Hall's blog post, got upset about how she had no care or compassion for girls that's not her "standard", you are right, we need to teach our sons of compassion, RESPECT, KINDNESS to ALL women/girls, you can respect someone without have to be the same as them!!! Mrs. Hall's post was condescending and harsh, while she was pointing fingers at girls, she posted her half naked, muscle showing, alluring pictures of her boys, what a double standard!

Shelly L. said...[Reply to comment]

Thanks for this post! Originally I didn't think to negatively of Mrs. Hall's post. I thought it was a good idea that Mrs. Hall went through social media feeds with her sons, but never considered that instead of blocking those images, to further discuss respect for women instead.

Thanks for helping me see the other side of things!