There’s a post making the rounds on Facebook, at least among my friends, and it’s being met with really positive, glowy reviews and nods of agreement from moms of girls and boys alike. Teenaged girls, it asks, please pay attention, because the Hall family has some stuff to say to you:
I have some information that might interest you. Last night, as we sometimes do, our family sat around the dining-room table and looked through your social media photos.
We have teenage sons, and so naturally there are quite a few pictures of you lovely ladies to wade through. Wow – you sure took a bunch of selfies in your pajamas this summer!
[I]t appears that you are not wearing a bra.
I get it – you’re in your room, so you’re heading to bed, right? But then I can’t help but notice the red carpet pose, the extra-arched back, and the sultry pout. What’s up? None of these positions is one I naturally assume before sleep, this I know.
Yeah, we’ve all seen it. Glossed-up duckface. After-shower shots. Stuff that really ought to be reserved for private texts between a consenting adult and her Congressman. Should young girls be posing in overtly sexual poses and sharing it on public media? Nah. Not a good idea. Is it often done to get attention? Usually from boys? Yeah, probably. Do we want to encourage that? Nope. There is possibly some problematic belief system motivating those grabs for attention, and that should be discussed. So I’m on board so far, Mrs. Hall. Continue.
Did you know that once a male sees you in a state of undress, he can’t ever un-see it? You don’t want the Hall boys to only think of you in this sexual way, do you?
Got that, girls? Once a man (or a boy) sees you in a state of undress, from then on, he’ll only think of you in that sexual way. And that’s your fault, k? Because you posted that ill-advised photo on Facebook and that instantly shuts down the part of male human brains where they can distinguish between boobs as disembodied sex toys and boobs as a small part of a whole person with thoughts, dreams, ambitions, emotions, fears, and autonomy. K?
We hope to raise men with a strong moral compass, and men of integrity don’t linger over pictures of scantily clad high-school girls. Every day I pray for the women my boys will love. I hope they will be drawn to real beauties, the kind of women who will leave them better people in the end.
Parenting is really just exhausting work. We’re all so busy with our blogging and taking photos on the beach of our scantily-clad, flexing boys (who are nothing like scantily-clad, pouting girls, FYI) and stalking all your Facebook selfies. If you could just go ahead and remove any scantily-clad pictures from the internet so that we don’t have to actually teach our sons not to linger over things that we think aren’t so healthy for them, that’d be great. I mean, it’s easier for us to go ahead and try to remove any temptation than to teach them how to handle temptation. Amirite?
And *real* beauties don’t post sexualized pictures of themselves. I mean, really, *real* beauties are pure and innocent and don’t tempt boys. You can’t be a sexual creature and, you know, leave the men in your life better people (which is your job, btw). *Real* beauties aren’t sultry temptresses. They’re, you know, clothed women. Preferably who don’t talk much.
Girls, it’s not too late! If you think you’ve made an on-line mistake (we all do – don’t fret – I’ve made some doozies), RUN to your accounts and take down anything that makes it easy for your male friends to imagine you naked in your bedroom.
Yes! Take down anything that makes it easy for your male friends to imagine you naked in your bedroom! Like that picture of you in your pajamas! And also that one of you dancing at the prom in the dress with the spaghetti straps! And also that one of you laughing with your friends while you eat peach ice cream! And also that one of you at your little sister’s 2nd birthday party, because, well, you’re a girl, and you are pretty well-endowed, and poor little Jimmy has such a vivid imagination, bless his heart…
Yeah maybe just delete your whole Facebook account.
There are boys out there waiting and hoping for women of character.
Character is measured in the amount of skin that never sees the light of day. Make a note, ladies.
Some young men are fighting the daily uphill battle to keep their minds pure, and their thoughts praiseworthy.
And so, the cycle of male escape from responsibility for their own thoughts and actions continues with enthusiastic support. Young girls are shamed for their bodies, their choices and their burgeoning sexuality to “protect” them from the apparently indiscriminate, uncontrollable wildfire of male sexuality. Young girls are blamed for being objectified because of their choice of dress, pose, lip position or even benign household setting (did you know THE SEX happens in bedrooms?!). And mothers post blogs asking all their teenaged sons’ female peers to please not tempt their pure, innocent boys, who are probably upstairs whacking it to the fleeting glimpse of their homely teacher’s white bra strap they grabbed during second period social studies today.
Business as usual.
*A note on tone: When I sat down to write this, I took a measured, fair approach. I expressed my concerns about what the words used here actually say to people, what they really mean, how we internalize them, and how they accidentally perpetuate really problematic, widespread views. I know Mrs. Hall blogged with the best of intentions. I know people I know support this because they’re concerned about choices they see young people making. I know parenting is hard and accepting that your teenagers are sexual beings is really, super-duper hard, and we really, really want to hide from that instead of help them learn to deal with the realities of it.
But I just can’t keep that tone right now. The more I read and wrote, the angrier I got. The more personally incensed by Mrs. Hall’s words I felt. The more ache I felt for any young girl who read what she wrote and got not just the message that she probably shouldn’t post sexual, revealing pictures on social media, but that there is something inherently wrong with her for being a sexual creature and that she has some grand responsibility to protect men — and herself — from their sexuality. No. Just no. I’m angry and I’m hurt and this is what came out, and I could revise it, but I won’t. And if it makes you angry, then good. Talk about it. Yell about it. Blog about it. But have the hard conversations. Please.