This is getting to be a regular occurrence. Perhaps I need a new day of the week series, like "Moaning Monday"? Or "Virtual Bitch-Slap Monday?"

Sometimes I think it's not so much that misogynistic men are perpetuating rape culture, but that good Christian women are doing it for them. 

By now, if you hang around the interwebs a lot, you will have seen the post from the mom of boys exhorting teenage girls to stop taking sexy selfies. The original post was filled with pictures of the teen boys all shirtless on the beaches, but they've been changed now. She got tired of people pointing out her double standard. Or, according to one commenter, it's okay to wear revealing things on a beach, but not when you're taking a photo in your bedroom. Anyway, the post - and I'm paraphrasing here - basically says that by sharing sexy selfies on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, these girls are ruining the integrity of her sons. 

And tons of women agree with her. 

Look, I hope that when Ironflower is a teenager, she isn't so insecure about her looks and desirability that she has to post sexy selfies on social media sites. I don't have a problem with the mom being against 15 year old girls sharing cleavage shots. I'm against 15 year old girls sharing cleavage shots with the world, if only because of how they'll be judged so harshly by so many people. And blamed for teenaged boys having "impure" thoughts, urges and behaviors. And if, Goddess forbid, some asshole rapes them, they'll get blamed for it because they posted sexy pictures. Which is essentially what this mom is doing. Well, what she actually claims is that the pictures will ruin her boys' integrity. 

I came of age in the era before selfies. I came of age in a town where huge, baggy sweaters were the cool thing to wear. And you know what? The boys still had dirty thoughts. In a country like Saudi Arabia, for example, where women are required to be covered by burqas, where media is heavily censored so that no one sees any cleavage ever, the men still apparently manage to have sex (evidenced by continuing population), get porn despite the ban and. . . . oh yeah, they jail rape victims

When you blame a girl's (or a woman's) photos and outfits for men and boys having lustful thoughts, all you're doing is setting up boys and men to blame girls/women for their actions, too. Integrity is being honest and morally upright. How is finding a picture attractive dishonest? Or immoral? 

I guess if you're hoping your teenager never masturbates (and I'm not sure why you would hope that, but whatever) and you think people only masturbate because they've seen something sexy, well, then, your no-sexy-pics plan makes sense. Except. . . .

I have dated men who have found flannel pajamas sexy. Big, baggy ones that I'm sure this mom wouldn't object to. I know a man who thinks hijabs are sexy. There are men who get excited by women wearing sandals. I met one once in a bar. He never looked at my (tastefully displayed) cleavage, but he almost drooled on my newly pedicured toes. Hell, what about pedophiles? They are turned on by children. . . . surely you don't blame the children for smiling sweetly in their school pictures? 


Ergo, telling women and children and men people how to dress, or how to pose, or how to present themselves to the world is not going to stop other people from having dirty thoughts. You can hide all the sexy selfies from your family's timeline and ban fashion magazines and television shows and anything you deem immodest and still, your boys are going to find something that turns them on. You can't stop them from being sexual beings. We all are. 

What you can do, though, is teach your sons how to handle it appropriately. You can teach them that just because a woman has turned them on, it doesn't mean she owes them anything. You can teach them that you can't judge what a woman wants by how she's dressed. You can teach them that finding someone attractive is nothing to be ashamed of. You can teach them that acting sexy is not the same as wanting sex.  You can teach them how to handle their lustful thoughts and their physical urges in ways that fit into your belief system. 

But you need to fucking stop teaching them that sexy selfies are to blame for any impure thoughts they have. 


Anonymous said...

I wish you could see the standing ovation I'm giving you right now. Seriously.

I have a son and I am raising him to be a gentleman. (I hope.) We talk about how to treat women and how to handle peer pressure and our sex-driven culture. And he's not even 13.

It is the parent's responsibility to raise moral men, not a girl's responsibility to censor herself.

I heart you.

Tracie Nall said...

Yes. Yes. Yes.

I agree with everything you have written here.

triplezmom said...

@Becominneurotic - I heart you, too. And would like your son to date my daughter in a few years! Thank you.

@Tracie - That means a lot, because when I think of truly good Christian women, you're one of the first people I think of.

Leslie said...

I totally agree with you!

I heard a lot of what was written in that "FYI (if you're a teenage girl)" post when I was growing up from my parents and my church. Not specifically about selfies, obviously, as they weren't a thing when I was growing up, but the "don't be sexy because men can be dangerous when they're turned on and they can't even help it!" sort of message was the same. Incidentally, there were two times in my life when I was taken advantage of sexually and both happened with boys from church. Their excuse? "Well, look at what YOU do to me." All I knew is I must have been "being sexy" (what was that?) and deserved it.

I don't blame my parents for those incidents. I think they were doing the best they could with the knowledge and experience they had. I just hope I can do better for my kids. While I have issues with that post, too, I've appreciated the dialogue it's opened up on the subject.

triplezmom said...

Oh Leslie, I'm sorry that happened to you. I'm glad you see it differently know. Hugs.