September 5, 2013

She Meant Well

So, I was browsing the internet, as I occasionally do, and ran across this article from Jezebel: 

Concerned Mom: Slutty Girls' Selfies Are Tempting My Perfect Sons

Now, normally I would ignore this, but I clicked. I was curious. The article, and the comments, were amusing enough for me to go read the original post.

Now the comments made sense and I laughed my ass off. I decided to write a comment to Mrs. Hall. I've included it for you below:

As someone who is writing a blog on sexism and sexist behaviors, your first post was bothersome. I see what you were aiming for and your intent. However, you perpetuated a double standard that left me with a bad taste in my mouth. You were attempting to shame a nameless, faceless girl for her activities while publicly parading your sons bodies over the internet. I didn't like the standard you set. It made your statement hypocritical. 
Now I see you've posted the same post (mostly the same) but with your sons covered up. OK but even if I had not seen the first post, I'd wonder about your motives. Does this mean that you'll eventually teach your daughter to ignore racy photos of boys on the internet (they do exist)? Or is it just girls who have the problem because, I assure you, boys are equally culpable. It smacks of the 'shaming' phenomena that's so prevalent in our society. Girls have to be held to a higher standard than boys because boys just can't help themselves. Really? Is that what you think of your sons? That once they see a classmate in a racy selfie, they'll never respect her again? They'll look at her and see boobs? I think, Mrs. Hall, you underestimate your sons while doing them a disservice. You seem to be a nice lady trying, as we all do in this world, to raise respectful intelligent sons. Respect their intelligence now. Assume they know better than to treat a classmate like a sex object instead of a person. 
I also think you also forget that pictures taken by other people can show up on FB tagged to someone's name. Everyone who knows me personally knows I'm not a fan of having my picture on the internet. My pics are few and far between. However, a picture once showed up in my FB album but it was taken and posted by my best friend. I immediately removed the tag but if I had not, and the picture had been me in a racy bikini, would I be de-friended in the Hall household? I didn't take the picture. It's not my fault your son's started think of me in my bikini after it was posted. And honestly, Mrs. Hall, your sons' thoughts are my least concern. It's their ACTIONS I'm concerned with. 
I'll never forget the speed with which a naked selfie of a former college classmate made the rounds on Facebook. Did I particularly enjoy looking at his dangly bits? Nope. Were they out there for me to see? Yep. Does that make him a slut for posting that pic? It definitely makes him an idiot if he posted it purposefully. And there is the hypocrisy. Turns out his ex-girlfriend decided to post some of his pics, pics taken in a spirit of love and trust during their relationship, on Facebook. He was able to remove the tags to his face but he had to contact the administrators to remove the pics. By then, at least six graduating classes, plus everyone THEY knew, had seen those pics. We know now what's in his BVDs.
But under the current policy in your household, you would block his posts (and probably him). He didn't post those pics. He never wanted those pics to get out.
But your zero-tolerance policy doesn't allow for understanding and judgment. It doesn't allow for explanations. It's absolute. So I kindly ask you to add another question to your list: Who posted this? Not all 'selfies' are selfies and, had I defriended him, I might never have learned that (a) he didn't post that, (b) he was now a cop (he wasn't when the pics were taken) (c) she was arrested. How did I learn all this? I remained friends with him. It was humiliating for him but I'm still his friend because I didn't judge and when I see him, I don't see his penis instead of his face.
Actually, I take it back. He's a man, not a girl. So he's still a friend in the Hall household. Because your policy doesn't take into account things your daughter shouldn't see. It's just geared toward girls, who are, more often than not, the victims of this kind of behavior. And if, indeed, some young female friend of a Hall boy decides to post a selfie on FB, she's within her rights. It's her account and can only be seen by those who friend her. If her parents don't object, she can do as she wishes. Does that make it right? Not necessarily. But again, you have a double standard and it leaves me feeling cold. 
I've seen your sons in their swim trunks. I still couldn't give two hoots about them but you chose to glorify their bodies in your first post. You fell into the same behavior that I'm fighting against, perpetuating a double standard against women that your sons don't have to meet. You put your sons bodies out in the world to be seen but you rail against photos that require 'friending' to see. 
I don't require a response. I won't even be upset if you choose not to accept this comment for publication. I do hope you take a moment and think about my points and really ask yourself: Is this right? Is this fair? Or am I simply perpetuating the age old myth of male helplessness in the face of feminine wiles? Are your sons intelligent boys growing into men? Or are they helpless beasts driven by their emotions? 
I have faith in your sons, Mrs. Hall. I choose to believe they're intelligent young men. Men in puberty, yes, and therefore capable of seeing anything and everything in a sexual way. But they don't have to act on their thoughts. I choose to believe you're teaching them to treat everyone with respect.

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