Wednesday, September 04, 2013

In response to FYI (if you're a teenaged girl)

Let's get this out of the way at the beginning of my post:

Tee-hee...boobs!

That's me but those aren't my boobs.  The boobs are a costume item I sold online for a while, made out of polyester and fiberfill.  Great gift idea...good for baby showers and pot luck dinners.

Now that you've seen me in one of my favorite photos, are you able to control yourself?  Especially if you are a red blooded heterosexual young male...can you tear your eyes and thoughts away long enough to see the woman behind the photo?  Have I made you impure?

If I posted an even more naked photo, would you be able to look me in the eye?

I hope so.

At least that's the sentiment I left in a comment (still in moderation) on a blog post that's gone viral these last couple days.  A quote from FYI (if you’re a teenage girl) on Given Breath on the subject of modesty of teenaged girls:
I know your family would not be thrilled at the thought of my teenage boys seeing you only in your towel. Did you know that once a male sees you in a state of undress, he can’t ever un-see it?  You don’t want the Hall boys to only think of you in this sexual way, do you?

Many of you know that I'm the mother of sons.  They are 19, 14 and 8.  Because I'm the mother of sons and in general a conscientious person, I've been as thorough as I can be regarding their hormones and the subject matter of sex. 

Let me give you an example.  When my middle boy was in second grade he asked me why the baby his teacher was carrying didn't just fall out of her body before it was ready to be born.  I got that kid in front of a computer, pulled up a diagram of a woman's reproductive system, and he learned that the part that keeps the baby inside is called a cervix.  I also told him that many people are not as comfortable as his mother is when it comes to the subject of sex and reproduction, and so he shouldn't just repeat what I taught him in school.  Then I forewarned his teacher.  It would be an odd thing at circle time for the subject of her cervix to come up.

My oldest asked me what a period was at age 7.  I told him.  He asked what herpes was at age 12.  I showed him.  It led to a productive conversation on STDs and how they are transmitted.  My middle asked me what the term "horizontal polka" meant.  I told him.  My youngest asked me how women got eggs in their bellies to make babies.  I told him along with the help of YouTube and without euphemisms.

My children know that they can come to me and ask me any question.  I will not bat an eye.  I do not get embarrassed.  I will answer with compassion.  We talk about all of it.  Male and female anatomy and function.  Biology, hormones, drives and orientation.  Sexual ethics, sexual consequences, and love.

Hell...I've even had a question and the ensuing conversation at Disneyland making the happiest place on earth all the more happy.

When you talk this way with your children you remove the mystery, the shame and the stigma of sex.  AKA, the tee-hee factor.

What you get is young men and young women who have the tools to approach their sexuality in a matter of fact way rather than out of misguided emotion and unchecked instinct.  While my sons may look at a photo of a lively young lady and have an impure thought or two, they also know that there is nothing wrong with them because of that.  That they can put the thought in the proper context because they don't have to be ashamed or make a secret of having a normal reaction.  They know, because their mother has taught them, that women are more than their parts or their clothes.  They understand what their body is doing and why and what happens when they act out of ignorance, naivete or single minded lust.

Modesty is how we view other people and not how much of our naughty parts are covered.  No one else is responsible for our thoughts and you can control them.

So, if my boys see something like this...

 
...the expectation I have laid at their feet is that while they may have sexual thoughts, Miley is a human being, and you will look her in the eye.  Robin Thicke is a human being.  You will treat him with consideration.



 
 
If they come upon imagery like this, they will have the tools to recognize that she is more than what we'd scorn her for.  That her display only has the power they give it.  She is worthy of respect and of kindness.  You will look her in the eye.


 
This woman is not immodest and she has nothing to be ashamed of.  She has the breasts that all women have.  Her body is not bad and you seeing it doesn't make you bad. You will look her in the eye.
 
 


This woman is not an object.  She is not a commodity.  She has thoughts, feelings and struggles.  She is a human being.  You will look her in the eye.


This woman is not a temptress.  Her body is not property.  Her body is not evil.  It will not cause you to become evil or out of control.  The way she dresses is no more or less worthy of respect than any other woman on the planet.  You will look her in the eye.

My sons bodies are not evil.  They are not abnormal.  They are not commodities.  They are not animals.  They are not clueless, thoughtless or incapable of decency.

So, having read all this and remembering back to my hilarious photo of my costume boobs, I'll ask you the question again.

Can you look me in the eye?

Damn right.




ETA (Sep. 9, 2013)

I'm talking sex ed.  Go ahead and CLICK HERE!


41 comments:

  1. Bravo! You should be the mother of ALL boys!

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  2. Holy moly!

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  3. YOU ARE AWESOME. (running off to post this on Facebook)

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  4. Okay, so I've now read the linked post and a random sampling of comments ... As the mother of a (gay) son, the irony of the photos wasn't lost on me lol, and as for everyone congratulating the OP for her "christian morals" - ugh, don't get me started. My concern was that she is teaching her boys that these girls are worth no respect, and that it's not her sons' faults for any misdeeds to perform after seeing these pictures - it's all the girls' faults. Burkas all round, ladies, don't miss out, can't have those men taking responsibility for their own thoughts or actions! Argh...
    -Lucy

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  5. Awesome, as I knew it would be!!

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  6. Excellent post, you make me proud to be a Mom. I have heard all about that other post and quite frankly I don't have the stomach for it. I will end the night having read your fine post.

    You are a credit to the human race.

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    1. Parts of me are. Parts of me are questionable. :D

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  7. Excellent post! I'm glad I'm not the only mom who feels it is important to teach her son "sexual ethics".

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  8. Becky,
    Bless you for being so straightforward with your boys. I truly believe that sex is a problem primarily _because_ it's kept a "secret". I grew up in a _very_ Christian environment, and I truly believe that sex wouldn't be such a "tempting" thing for me if knowledge about it hadn't been kept from me...if it had been clear that I was free to talk about it. Bravo to you. I don't have any kids, but if I did, I hope I would be conscientious enough to take this attitude.
    --Jeff

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    1. That's EXACTLY it Jeff. I grew up in Utah. Even seeking out sexual education was a spiritually iffy proposition.

      The shame. It fuels so many human problems.

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  9. AMEN! love it..... you said what I would have liked to see!

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  10. Amen to this. Everyone deserves to be looked in the eye.

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  11. I'm Christian but have the same attitude about sex education that you do. Someone I knew once said sex is like nuclear energy - you can use it to create something beautiful or you can use it to destroy. Building up walls of shame and fear around this subject risks pushing people towards the destructive end of the spectrum.

    Educating children - and adults for that matter (hey, it's never too late to change attitudes, right?) - about sex properly, regardless of gender, can, does, and will, in turn, teach them to respect one another as human beings. I absolutely believe that is compatible with a healthy Christian faith.

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  12. Love it. As a mother of girls I try to take the same approach when it comes to openness about sex. I will take your advice to warn the teacher next time we talk about something that may come up at school. :)
    I think Mrs. Hall had the right intentions, but is off the mark by thinking she can erase away all the "naughty" images on the internet with an "unfriend" button. I do applaud her for having a conversation around social media and what is and isn't appropriate. It's important for girls and boys to know that anyone can see those pictures and judge them for them.
    Thanks for writing. Why did yous top selling the boobs? ha.
    - Liz

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    1. I halted many of my costume sales because the economy tanked. We're working at getting back to it.

      I agree completely with monitoring a child's computer and cell phone use. My boys at home don't have cell phones. There is no reason they need a portable internet device. They have access to the desk top in the family room and my phones. We talk about what is on the internet and why I monitor them. I don't block their friends for posting poor selfies. I don't give a crap if they see a duck-lipped girl in a towel.

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  13. Thank you, that was well said!

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  14. Wow... thank you so much for writing this. I have no children of my own, but it is my hope that there are more parents like you out there. Excellent post.

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  15. Everything I was too flustered to articulate. Thanks for writing this.

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  16. Thank HEAVENS! That stupid post showed up in my FB feed a total of FIVE times! I am sick to death of everyone adding yet ANOTHER layer of shame and fear upon females in regards to their bodies.

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    1. I'll show you my shoulders if you show me yours.

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  17. I would much rather that my girls meet your boys than the other blogger's, all things considered. Thank you for this.

    Damn right.

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  18. Well we know at least 3 boys will be raised to respect women!!! Thank you so much for posting this and getting what I've been saying for years out in the open. You Rock!

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  19. As the mother of a three year old boy who recently spread his butt cheeks in front of a mirror to see if he had poop on his bottom I am highly appreciative of your insight and wisdom. As well I am a single mom with two sisters...so boys are a foreign country to me. I decided al while ago to just be honest with him as I feel he is ready. Step one...name our body parts. Yes my son has a penis...not a weewee or a snake or whatever else u might call it step two... only boys and daddys have a penis. Not girls and mommys. I answer his questions as simply as possible as they come up. He never asked what girls do have so we havent gotten there yet. I am glad to know I am not the only person whofeels this way. I will say that I started teaching my son this way because of a statistic I read... children who are more aware of and can correctly name their body parts are less likely to be molested. Now I have a second reason for my teaching.

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  20. This is the comment that I just put on my FB along with a link to this post...LOVE LOVE LOVE this post about response to the now viral "other" post. I will NOT put that link up here because I DO NOT want to give it ANY more attention, but you CAN always google it..but this woman....SHE is a GREAT mom and is raising GREAT people I am sure!
    Don't really know how I came to find your blog while wading through all the bullshit about that other stupid post, but be sure, I am following you now. Although my three kids MAY call me inappropriate (BECAUSE I am SO open and honest and up-front with them)they KNOW the true facts, and KNOW that they can talk to me about anything. As I dropped my 15 yr old off at the boxing gym the other day, he asked me what "mollys" were. NOW I have to be honest and say THANK GOD I had read some random blog post JUST a few weeks ago, about drugs and there was a mention that Ecstasy is now referred to as Mollys because there is NO way I would have known that...BUT I did, and I told him, and asked why he was asking. It led to a long conversation about some of his friends, the choices they are making and his decision to NOT do drug.
    I have always believed that being an open and honest parent is the only way to make GOOD PEOPLE and love when I find others that think that too!
    GREAT POST - thank you!
    Cheers,
    Meg@bbhwithms.com

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  21. You are a smart and wonderful momperson.

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  22. Well said. I agree with all of your points with one minor exception. The woman in the burka deserves respect just as you say. However, while in our society our customs and manners deem looking a woman in the eye the polite thing to do, the opposite is true in her culture. If the golden rule is to do unto others as you would have done unto you, then the platinum rule is to do unto others as the would have done unto themselves. I hope to raise children with enough awareness of themselves and others to be thoughtful and respectful. Seems like you've done a bang up job of that so far.

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    1. This is true and it was something I thought of long before I got to the burka. Many cultures deem eye contact as rude and confrontational.

      However, I decided to go with the broader point, at least coming from the culture my family is from.

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  23. Good golly, BRAVO! Wanted to smack that self righteous 'FYI ' Blogger. Stewed about it, shared it w scathing editorial, gnashed my teeth and read it to MY teenagers to see what THEY thought. This is beautiful. Thanks.

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    1. Woot! Reading it to your teenagers! Opening discussion. Good parenting anonymous parent!

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  24. I really loved your response to this situation, that's exactly the sort of mom I want to be when I have children. I know you touched on the ways you handled certain topics and situations with your boys as they arose, but if you ever want to be more specific in a future post, I for one would be taking notes. It's not like that's the sort of thing they teach in Christian Mommy Class, unfortunately.

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  25. I absolutely love this. Teaching respect, how to treat others, about our bodies, how to properly treat each gender...hell any person, despite what their posted selfies may be; is the responsibility of the parents, not the people Mrs. Hall was passing moral judgement on. I have a daughter and a son. From day one they were taught the proper anatomical terms for their bodies. Hearing a 2yr old say penis and scrotum is actually pretty hilarious. My daughter at age 6, refers to her vagina as only that...or crotch...my fault on that, 'stop picking at your crotch! Adjust your undies and hands out. Or go to your bedroom and do what you will in there, wash your hands afterwards', has become a common phrase in the house at the moment. Will address that issue when I have determined truly it is not just underwear wedgies.
    That being said. Every teenager makes bad judgements. They are adjusting their image of themselves, adjusting their ideas and notions of the world and what they think of it and where they fit in. It just happens to be tougher now do to the internet and the permanence of any bad ideas that are now recorded for history. Teens seem to get judged more harshly now simply because there is an undeniable and easily accessible record of their mistakes, unlike in the past where, whoops! Shake it off, remember your lesson, learn and move on. And it seems a lot of adults are forgetting this. Creating this holier than thou, impossible set of purity standards for todays teens that these adults really could not have followed themselves at that age. Difference again...no permanent record for everyone to see. They were not raised in an era to show everyone every aspect of their life so casually. And now as parents, it is up to us to teach our sons and daughters to view others and themselves as more than objects, more than a another head in a herd, but as people who deserve compassion, to be forgiven for teen mistakes of bad judgement, and to do the same for others. To respect other people and view others as more than what they present on the outside.
    And oh, my husband did teach our 2yr old son to say when asked where his nuts are,"no nuts, I have balls!". I reinforced the scrotum part again but, man...that little wordplay between the two of them was just too funny to squash. My point being, people like Mrs. Hall, need to lighten up, and teach her sons more than just sex.

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  26. Truth is never the culpret and what better place to start it than from a mother in her home with her family.

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