Thursday, September 5, 2013

It's About Responsibility

Oh, no. Not pajamas.

This morning, I read this letter from a mom to her sons' female friends. I started out with the best of intentions. I was not sure I would agree with this woman's conclusions, but I felt sure that I would support her setting and enforcing online rules for her children. 

The premise of that rule is simple: you post a picture she doesn't approve of, you get blocked from her kids' feeds. Sure, okay. I can get with that. Makes some sense. 

But, then the details. It started with the girl in the pajamas. (Pajamas? I'm not sure I get why pajamas are inappropriate, but okay...) Then, the observation that she wasn't wearing a bra with those pajamas. (Um. I don't wear a bra with my pajamas either. I'm not sure anyone does except Victoria's Secret models and also... Um... Isn't a little creepy that this adult is trying to determine if teenage girls are wearing bras in their pictures?) Finally, the kicker (apparently), the sexy pose. Although, as the pose is described, it seems her back is arched and she's pouting. Hm...
Wipe that pout off your face.

Overall, I was reading this whole thing and feeling sort of mixed feelings. On the one hand, parental prerogative. Fine by me. I don't want my kids hanging with your obviously sheltered boys anyway. On the other hand, um... why shouldn't girls be allowed to be photographed in their jammies again?

Then, the kicker:
"Did you know that once a male sees you in a state of undress, he can’t ever un-see it?"
 Okay, now we have a problem. And let me tell you why. Because that is not my kids' responsibility. I am the mother of two lovely girls and they are not old enough for Facebooking and Tweeting and selfies, but they will be in the very near future.

They will have some specific rules about what can and can't be posted online. About what can and can't be sent to friends. About what can and can't be worn outside the house and that when you post a picture online you are outside the house, no matter where you are.
Are you wearing a bra under that suit?

Yes, they will. They will be responsible for their own behavior. They will live with their own consequences.

But the idea that this only applies to girls because boys just can't help themselves enrages me. Like, not just a little, but wholesale enrages me.

So, if my kid posts a picture of herself in a two piece bathing suit, she is opening herself up to never have a boy ever again what? See her the same way? Respect her? Control himself?

How far does this supposed lack of basic self-control reach? Is he allowed to rape my kid because he can't help it? Grab her? Call her a slut? Gossip about the horrible things she does to his friends?

Is your back arched,
young lady?
When did we decide that only women can be responsible sexually? Oh, that's right, it's always been that way, hasn't it.

That's why women had to wear skirts to their ankles. That's why women weren't allowed to wear their hair down. That's why women who were raped were regarded as unclean and shunned and rapists were, well, um, ignored. Except we've progressed past that, right?

Right? Only, no. Apparently not. Apparently, rape culture is bigger and badder than ever. And beginning at home. Awww.

So, here's the deal:

Moms of boys:
I will teach my kids right from wrong. I will teach my kids to stand up for themselves and to respect themselves. I will monitor their online lives and hold them accountable for their own actions.

I will also, unfortunately, teach them basic self-defense. I will teach them not to walk alone, not to ever leave their drinks unattended, not to ever trust a boy who says "If you love me, you'll..."

I won't teach them that anything other than yes means yes. Maybe another time does not mean yes. A short skirt and a beer in their hand does not mean yes. You're cute, but no does not mean yes. Check out my cute pajamas does not mean yes. Even saying yes once does not mean yes always.

I will do this regardless of what you do. But I would really appreciate it if you could raise your kids to do some things too. For instance, if your boys would take responsibility for their thoughts and actions and not blame them on someone else's wardrobe choices, that would be great. If your boys would think of women and girls as human beings and not soft, warm objects to drool over and imagine naked, that would be pretty cool, too. And have this conversation with them. Teach them, whatever words you use, that women are people and deserve respect and dignity.

Mostly, though, teach them that last paragraph that I'm going to teach my girls. Forget about no means no. Nothing but yes means yes is the way to raise a man. Otherwise, we're just talking about little boys who never learned impulse control.


Suze said...


Well said, Jessi.

Meeshie said...

I plan on teaching my son about no and yes and respect but I also plan on teaching him about things like Stubenville and that people can do horrible things. I'll teach my daughter the same. People can be horrible.. and safety is important.. no matter how much you think you trust.

Jessi said...

Suze - Thanks so much!

Meeshie - Safety is absolutely important, for everyone. I just worry about walking that line between teaching my girls to live in fear and teaching them to be safe. They shouldn't have to be afraid of every boy they see.

Meeshie said...

No. They totally shouldn't have to live in fear. No one should. I just.. *sighs* I wish society was more the way that we want it to be, you know? I wish I could give my child a peaceful world that would not try so hard to crush people sometimes.

Meh. I think I need chocolate now.

Jessi said...

Amen to that. Chocolate time.