Beverly Beckham, a columnist for The Boston Globe wrote a very thought provoking article about our country's young women in Sunday's paper. The link is copied below. To summarize she wonders when our girls will think success is more than: being a sex symbol, or being noticed by men. She says: "Our fashion is about exposing women, our sitcoms are about bedding women, and our songs are about beating women. This is what our girls absorb." She quotes some lyrics from nominated songs from last weeks Grammy's and all I have to say is Whoa! http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2011/02/20/face_it_young_women_youre_being_exploited/
Maybe I am just getting old, but I am shocked by the provocative nature of even our young adolescent girls. More parents than I care to count call me after having found provocative pictures, texts, and facebook postings. I am talking about our 12 year old girls here. Clearly we are not getting the message out that though we get that it's fun and exciting to attract boys, nudity and sexually charged language is not the way to go. And what about our boys. How do we teach them respect for girls. Remember my video post(the post was on feb 11) of a few weeks ago where I described a 12 year old boy asking his childhood friend after making plans to walk with her to Starbucks after school. "Can I kiss you? Can I touch you? Can I fuck you!!!" This poor young girl was so upset, she avoided going to school for days.
Is it our own discomfort with thinking about our kids as sexual beings, preventing us from having the kinds of conversations that will make everyone squirm? Maybe we give out mixed messages as women when we are consumed with our own bodies and the images we project. I remember having conversations with my daughter when she was a teen. I would be talking about how fat I felt, or how old and ugly I was feeling.(That's when I was in my 40's, now that I am heading into my 60's I actually like myself better. See getting older is fun) But I do remember very clearly my daughter saying, "and you wonder why I am consumed with worrying about being fat. I get it from you!!!!" And I'm guessing she is more than a little right. I do not have one memory of my middle aged mother ever ever commenting on her size, her sexiness or her aging. Women in the 1950's and 1960's just did not think about that, or if they did they did not talk about it. And what about the dads. I know even from my own hubby and our middle aged friends, there are always comments about this hot woman, or that hot woman. Again, I never ever heard my dad comment about women in terms of their hotness. Maybe, we as adult have to start with ourselves and watch what we say and how we live. Are we giving these messages to our daughters and sons without even realizing it? Do we spend too much time and energy making ourselves look sexy and cool, rather than just healthy? Maybe we have had too much of the kool-aid as well, read too many People magazines, too many Allures and Vogues showing us how to find the fountain of youth. We have bought too many creams, had too much botox ( I draw the line) too many eyelifts and so on. Maybe we have to first model self-acceptance for our kids before we can expect them to follow suit.
At the least we have to continue, on a regular basis to have talks with our teens about this. No matter how much eye-rolling you may encounter, do not let that deter the message. Find opportunities when they present themselves, don't manufacture them. If you are watching a show or hear some lyrics or see something in a magazine or hear a story from the news, or a friend, there is your chance, your "I get it" moment. " I get how this might sound hip or funny, but I worry that it makes girls feel like that have to wear a tight or cleavage revealing top, or short shorts with a butt crack exposed, or whatever, just to get attention from a boy. Do you feel that way?"
Or with your son: " I get that boys think its funny to comment on the size of a girls boobs, or think that they can convince girls to take pictures or give blow jobs in order to be their boyfriend, but its really just to "get a little", and get a good story to tell the guys. I hope you wouldn't lead a girl on like that? Just talking about this once does not facilitate change. This is tough stuff. Our world is changing and this happens to not be one of the good things. Our culture bombards us with messages, but we give our kids messages as well. Do as I say, not as I do, won't work anymore. You gotta walk the walk to really make a difference.