Teenage girls don't have it easy nowadays.
With social media, everything has changed in a lot of strange ways for 14-year-olds like me. Things can go viral online. I know. It has happened to me.
So when I read the blog by the mother of teenage boys scolding teenage girls for how to behave in pictures if we don't want to get "blocked" on Facebook for putting impure thoughts in her boys' heads, I felt disappointed.
If you didn't read this mom's post, here are the key points of what she wrote:
- "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 skimpy pj’s this summer! ... I think the boys notice other things. For one, it appears that you are not wearing a bra."
- "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."
- "So, here’s the bit that I think is important for you to realize. If you are friends with a Hall boy on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter, then you are friends with the whole Hall family."
- "Please know that we genuinely like staying connected with you this way! ... Which is what makes your latest self-portrait so extremely unfortunate. That post doesn’t reflect who you are at all! We think you are lovely and interesting, and usually very smart. But, we had to cringe and wonder what you were trying to do? Who are you trying to reach? What are you trying to say? And now -– big bummer -– we have to block your posts."
- "Did you know that once a male sees you in a state of undress, he can’t quickly un-see it? You don’t want our boys to only think of you in this sexual way, do you? ... If you post a sexy selfie (we all know the kind), or an inappropriate YouTube video –- even once -– it’s curtains."
- "I know that sounds so old-school, but we are hoping to raise men with a strong moral compass, and men of integrity don’t linger over pictures of scantily clad high-school girls ... Girls, it’s not too late! ... RUN to your accounts and take down the closed-door bedroom selfies that makes it too easy for friends to see you in only one dimension. Will you trust me? There are boys out there waiting and hoping for women of character."
How would reading this make you feel if you are a teenage girl like me?
What is she so afraid of from teenage girls? We're not going to hurt you. Or your sons.
Honestly, I'm not even against the idea that many teenagers do need to be more safe online or that it can be a smart idea to not post provocative pictures, but I really didn't think her blog post was fair. She says "the sultry pout" could morally corrupt her sons? That's crazy. Almost every other picture on Facebook is some girl doing "duckface." I do it in the picture for this post because someone told me to do it because it would be funny. It's on my Facebook. So far it hasn't hurt anyone.
The author tells us that once a boy sees a girl in a way that could be regarded as sexual, that image can never be unseen. What kind of twisted logic is that? Does she think that any girl who wears a bikini needs to go on to become a porn star? Of course not. That kind of thinking is scary and dangerous and doesn't belong in the year 2013.
She talks about not wearing a bra. Well you know what? A lot of teenagers don't wear bras yet.
It almost sounds kind of creepy the way she writes about her sons "lingering" over pictures. Teenagers flirt with other teenagers. And that's OK. Flirting or taking flirty pictures doesn't mean sex. It really doesn't. Please don't try to slut-shame teenage girls like me who -- ironically, if they're like me, aren't having sex at all and are planning to wait. Teenagers girls don't deserve to be blocked for playing around in pictures just because you might find it sexual (how weird is that) for your boys.
I actually agree parents should censor things that might somehow be taboo, but what you are describing is not taboo.
I'm constantly hearing messages -- like what you wrote -- that parts of my body are not to be seen in public because it is not socially accepted. Women are expected to cover up more than men. People try to make us feel bad. That we are "asking for it" or that we have somehow lost our character because we took a picture with our lips pursed? That's crazy and rude.
Boys seem to take more appropriate pictures than girls because they don't have much that they need to cover. I have male friends that take pictures of themselves lifting up their shirts to expose muscles to make themselves seem more sexually appealing, and they don't get judged.
People might say: "Who cares? It's just his torso." But it's more than that. It's his body, and he's showing it off. I also find it hypocritical that initially you posted just those kinds of pictures of your boys in your article.
I have friends who are girls that take pictures in their bikinis and are accused of being sluts. Let's stop the culture of slut shaming.
The bodies of young girls are not dangerous.
But you know what is? Teaching young women they should be ashamed of their bodies.