So…I am fashionably late to the party on this particular topic but this week has been a long one.
Apparently one Mrs. Hall, on her mommy-focused blog, wrote an open letter directed at teenage girls, informing them that their inappropriate online behavior makes it impossible for her to allow her sons to continue to interact with them via social media.
You can check her blog out at the link below. You will want to read it before you read what follows for a little context to this latest rant of mine. http://givenbreath.com/2013/09/03/fyi-if-youre-a-teenage-girl/
Her reproach appears directed at “braless” teenage girls posing in their pajamas – the “extra-arched back” and “sultry pout” being particularly offensive to Mrs. Hall.
To add insult to injury, such “sexual selfies” damage her sons’ ability to fight the good fight to keep their minds “pure” and their thoughts “praiseworthy” as they search for “women of character.”
So teenage ladies – consider yourselves forewarned.
Your milkshake ain’t bringing the Hall boys to the yard anymore.
Not if Mrs. Hall has anything to say about it.
And that’s ok.
As their mother, that is her right and prerogative to put constraints on how, when and with whom her sons have relationships on social media sites.
I myself have had some adventures with social media and selfies of late – https://nikkijamison.wordpress.com/2013/08/16/the-middle-aged-selfie-a-photo-essay/ – and have my own opinions on the images of ourselves that we choose to make public – regardless of gender.
But just as she posed the following questions to her intended audience of teenage girls in regards to their “cringe-worthy” self-portraits, I would ask the same of her –
What are you trying to do?
Who are you trying to reach?
What are you trying to say?
Because I am in total agreement that our sons need to be taught to be patient and kind; to have a strong moral compass; and, to treat women with respect and dignity and not merely as the objects of sexual gratification.
But, if in our attempts to teach such valuable lessons, and set our sons on a path to seek, find, and love “women of character” we choose to simultaneously characterize all young women as potential impediments to the same, we are failing both genders.
This impurity of women dogma is a well-worn path followed since time immemorial – Eve ate that damn apple and we’ve been paying for it ever since.
And sadly this path is perpetually tread anew in ways far more damaging than Mrs. Hall’s condescendingly-framed pseudo-conversation with today’s teenage girls within her blog post.
Consider the Montana judge that recently sentenced a man to only 30 days in jail for the rape of a 14-year old, in part because he felt the victim – who committed suicide before the trial – was “older than her chronological age” and “as much in control of the situation” as the perpetrator – her 40-year old teacher.
Now there is a lot I don’t know about this case.
I don’t know if the victim ever posted a “sexual selfie.”
I don’t know whether, in her attempts to muddle through a cultural landscape both abhorrent of and increasingly titillated by the coming of age of young women, she was unable to discern the sexual predations of a man old enough to be her father from a healthy sexual relationship between two consenting individuals.
And I don’t know if this man was ever, in his youth, given the impression that control of his own sexual urges and intentions was not something for which he was wholly and personally responsible.
I certainly do know that furthering such impressions was not what Mrs. Hall intended as she encouraged young girls to “RUN to your accounts and take down the closed-door bedroom selfies” that it make it “too easy” to be seen as anything more than sexual objects.
She intended to address a very real need for the exercise of better social media judgment and its impact on relationships between maturing teenagers in a lighthearted, heyyy girlfriend-type manner.
But words matter.
So Mrs. Hall, will you trust me?
That while there are boys and girls out there fighting that daily uphill battle to keep their minds “pure,” and their thoughts “praiseworthy” – they will often lose that fight. They are teenage boys and girls.
And while both genders are struggling through adolescence, and will, at times, exercise poor judgment in their fumbling attempts to come to grips with their identities as maturing individuals with natural, healthy and developing sex drives – this does not equate with a lack of character.
And recognizing that requires loving, supportive and responsible role models in a position to positively influence the conversation about the true nature of beauty and character and personal responsibility to carefully consider the impact their words can have on young girls and boys during their formative teenage years.
Mrs. Hall, I am certain that you are a woman befitting the above qualifications.
So act like her, speak like her, post like her.
It’s not too late.