Emmie Mears
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Can We Knock Off The Slut Shaming?

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Can We Knock Off The Slut Shaming?

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Slut shaming? KILL IT WITH FIRE. Or…swords. Licensed stock photo.

So…I stumbled across this article on Facebook. While I’ll include a couple relevant quotes, if you want to read the whole thing, do it. I’ll wait.

The tl;dr version is that this Concerned Mother is upset that her son’s female teenage friends post pouty selfies on Facebook. Or of themselves in a towel. Or of themselves in pajamas or other clothing without a bra underneath. Her solution is to block these girls’ posts.

She also says this:

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?

It was about at that point that my blood went from a simmer to a rolling boil.

I don’t have words for how utterly disgusted I am by that dust-beaten argument. The “oh, men are too visual to forget what they see and thus can’t be held responsible for their thoughts or actions because boys will be boys, obvi” argument. Not only does it place the entirety of responsibility for policing male thoughts on women as if they’re creating said thoughts ex nihilo in the first place, but it makes men out to be thoughtless, brainless, think-only-with-the-penis Neanderthals. And I think that’s even a bit too much of an insult to Neanderthals.

Men are sentient, intelligent beings. Men are responsible for what they do with the information in front of them, whether it’s a woman in a state of undress or a stop sign. Pouting teenage girl + teenage boy =/= MELTDOWN, but if we continue to condition boys into this mindset that they have no control over their thoughts, their fantasies, and their actions, how the hell are we surprised when they treat women like playthings?

Instead of teaching her boys to respect women, she’s inadvertently instructing them in shaming women in a world that first glorifies sex appeal and then rips women a new one when they show it. I felt shamed reading that, and I don’t post pictures like she’s describing.

In my opinion, her decision to include shirtless photos of her sons in the post makes this less of a “friendly advice” editorial and more of a lesson in double standards.

Did I mention that part? If you clicked, you’ll see that the first image on that post is her sons shirtless and flexing on the beach. I think originally there were more of them, but she got pretty lambasted in the comments even from her fellow sharers of faith on that point, so it appears she’s taken some down.

While some commenters have said “this isn’t the same” because men without shirts aren’t sexualized the way women are, that very response is telling of how women’s breasts have been sexualized. Instead of being something to feed our babies with, they’re playthings to ogle. Again, it’s something within our culture that has long been ingrained. There are plenty of indigenous cultures where women don’t cover their chests. They seem to manage to get stuff done just fine. (I’m not saying we should all bare our boobage 100% of the time just because; our culture is not their culture, and we have to live in this one. But the point stands right alongside that double standard, waving a little flag.)

Instead of inadvertently objectifying her son’s peers by blocking their posts and virtually covering her boys’ eyes, maybe she ought to be teaching her sons how to engage respectfully with women who are dressed in a way they find revealing and teaching her boys that teenage girls trying to live up to the media standard of beautiful are not the sum of their Facebook pictures. By blocking these girls and shaming them publicly, she’s essentially telling her sons that these teen girls ARE sexual objects, to be shunned and avoided if they don’t meet her criteria of modesty. To be hidden away instead of engaging with them like people.

That, to me, is a lesson this world could use a whole lot less of.

Not to mention the girls who might read it. How they might feel. How getting told such things conflicts with everything they hear from pop culture. It’s not that pop culture and the media have the right of it. It’s that it’s a walking, talking Madonna-Whore Dichotomy instruction manual. I know the writer was well-intentioned, but I’m sick of the burden of purity being forced off on the shoulders of young women. In my youth group, the boys were talked to about porn. We were talked to about how to be modest so our brothers wouldn’t “stumble.” The whole “once they see it, they can’t unsee it” thing is absurd. If men are that incapable of controlling their thoughts and actions, that’s truly sad. And this mother is teaching her sons just that. That they can’t control themselves when they see a girl without a bra under her shirt, so it’s the girl’s responsibility. That’s terrible —  and half a step away from asking a rape victim what she was wearing and treating that as a vital part of the evidence. In fact, this kind of thinking is precisely what leads to that situation happening at all.

Men are better than that. She’s expecting a very high standard from her son’s female friends but using her boys’ Y chromosome as a get out of jail free card. And she does that WHILE choosing to post shirtless photos of all her sons all over the blog.

The entire post is a double standard in a box.

I’d like to include a comment posted by a young man named Kyle Greenberg. I appreciated his input so much that I sent him a Facebook message thanking him for saying what he did.

When in the world will we stop telling women to be ashamed of their bodies!? How about you teach your sons to respect women? Seems like a much easier solution. “Son, don’t be a creep”. Was that so hard? Why then would so many people rather jump through hoop after hoop in their attempt to control every possible piece of visual information that could reach their children?

Stop attacking everyone’s daughters, and start shaping your sons into men who view and treat women as equals.

I’m just worried that the primary message you are sending your sons is that it is the responsibility of every women they encounter to make sure they aren’t exposed to something sexually stimulating. This message damages men and it is entirely unfair for all women. The primary message should be “son, it is your responsibility to control yourself. No one else is responsible for how you think, act, or fantasize. Don’t blame women for your desires. It is not the job of all women to look and act just how you need them to for you to not be attracted to them. It is your job to treat women as people. It is your job to understand your sexuality. It is your job to conduct yourself with integrity.”

Do you not trust your sons? Do you really view your sons in such a negative light that you had to compose this elaborate and often times accusatory, insulting, or belittling essay directed to every girl they have or may encounter rather than trust them with the responsibility?

I view this essay as very damaging. You have taught your sons to blame others for their own behaviors and thoughts, and you have added to the myriad of voices already placing shame and blame on young women.

So that’s that. I’m really about over the slut shaming. I’m over people talking about Miley Cyrus as if she were the only person on that stage and the 36-year-old married singer of a creepy, rape-y pop song is ignored. I’m over seeing people’s reactions to the actress cast as the long-awaited mother on How I Met Your Mother when they just say “ugly” without waiting to see anything about her character, how she’ll fit into the show, if she can act. One went so far as to criticize her dentition. As if her teeth have anything at all to do with anything…at all.

These are the messages we send girls. We’re sending them the message that they’re supposed to be hot, beautiful, sexy. But the second they display those things of their own agency, they’re called sluts and whores, told they’re too fat or too skinny or too something. We’re telling them that if a guy leers at them or harasses them or assaults them that it’s their fault because those darn silly men just can’t control themselves when teh secks is involved. We’re telling them over and over and over again that their bodies don’t belong to them; that they exist only for the pleasure of men…when they want it.

I’m over it. Let’s knock off the slut shaming.

Oh, and by the way, Amanda Palmer gets it:

 

Also, here are another couple very cogent related posts, one in itself a response to the article I referenced: (Edit, 9/5: So many people are posting wonderful responses, so I’m going to continue adding them here.)

Regarding Your FYI 

On Modesty in Christianity

Bras Are Not Protectors of Virtue

Teaching Our Boys Respect And Self Control

An Open Letter to Teenage Girls Who Don’t Always Wear A Bra

A Message to Teenage Girls

And if my verbosity hasn’t made you need a nap YET, I wrote an oddly appropriate piece for Searching for SuperWomen this morning on the topic of beauty and the language we use with children.

Now for something completely different…I got a haircut. Let’s brighten up this raincloud with a quick (okay, so not-so-quick-and-many-times-falsely-ended vlog) and comic book show and tell!

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Author | Emmie Comments | 44 Date | September 4, 2013

comments

Daniel Swensen

Because once we men see a woman in a towel, we can only think in terms of our penises forever!

Emmie, have you by any chance read The Purity Myth? It tackles this subject from a number of angles, and it was a real eye-opener for me — how much pressure society puts on girls, how much it demands they conform to this ridiculous and slippery standard that can’t even properly be defined much of the time. One of the best books I read this year.

September 4, 2013 | 5:46 pm

    Emmie

    I haven’t read it, but I have heard of it! I’ll look into adding it to the TBR mountain.

    September 4, 2013 | 5:47 pm

David Coventry (@DWCoventry)

Yep. Newsflash assholes: women’s bodies are not public spaces. You are responsible for what you do to other people. This sort of stuff is as old as Plato’s Republic.

September 4, 2013 | 5:50 pm

lisashambrook

Did you see this reply?
http://putdowntheurinalcake.com/2013/09/dear-mrs-hall-regarding-your-fyi-if-youre-a-teenage-girl/
Says it all really!
I read both posts earlier and queried the double standards too.
I’m bringing my son up to respect women full stop. My son is in charge of his own emotions and reactions, and I’m teaching my daughters the same!

September 4, 2013 | 6:04 pm

    Emmie

    That seems like the way to do it! Thanks for commenting and for sharing the link!

    September 4, 2013 | 6:07 pm

    Daniel Swensen

    You are awesome, Lisa.

    September 4, 2013 | 6:11 pm

alienredqueen

Wow… I understand the mother was trying to make the girl aware she was perhaps being immodest (I don’t know the context, but I’m giving the BOD), but, WHOA! Way to relieve her boys of any and ALL responsibility! I was in a band with three dudes when I was in High School. One day were were horsing around and the one dude’s mother tried to shame me, saying I should “keep my legs closed when I’m wearing a skirt” or something like that. Boy, did I EVER go off on her. I basically told her she ought to be more concerned about her poor shelter boy than me, and I really let into her,, all without resorting to cursing at her (which was no mean feat.) She later told her son that she had never been yelled at like that, let alone by a sixteen year old girl, and said I could “come back” to their house if I apologized, which I patently refused. He told me just lie and say I was sorry, but I refused on principal. That would have been like saying I was wrong and SHE was not.

Anyway, love the new do!

September 4, 2013 | 6:05 pm

    Emmie

    Yeesh. Yeah, good on ya for that one!

    I definitely know this mother has her sons’ best interests in mind and is saying what she thinks is best, which is part of why it got to me. Too many people sincerely think that boys have no role in monitoring their own thoughts, fantasies, and actions when it comes to sex. Which basically says too many people have a really low opinion of boys’ abilities to think logically and act respectfully…and that’s depressing.

    September 4, 2013 | 6:10 pm

      Daniel Swensen

      Yeah, what she obviously doesn’t realize is that sort of gender role crap harms both sides — what happens if these kids grow up thinking their emotional responses are their partner’s responsibility? That’s going to be utterly toxic, for them and their partners both.

      September 4, 2013 | 6:13 pm

        Emmie

        Toxic is a GREAT word for it.

        September 4, 2013 | 6:24 pm

alienredqueen

BTW, once I started reading that piece of self-righteous shit cloaked as god-fearing good will, I couldn’t help but blast her (respectfully, of course) in a comment of my own.

September 4, 2013 | 6:24 pm

    Emmie

    That response Lisa linked above is very worth reading as well. Apparently others are unhappy with the thesis of her essay too.

    September 4, 2013 | 6:26 pm

      alienredqueen

      I did read it, and I love it. Her father is a wise man. 😉

      September 4, 2013 | 6:33 pm

Sonia G Medeiros

My son and daughter are still very young, so we haven’t encountered these situations before. However, I can tell you how I feel about this right now. I encourage my children to dress with what our family feels is reasonable modesty. We’re NOT talking skirts only on girls or covering anything below the collar bone. However, skirts and shorts should generally hit the knee (or lower) necklines generally cover cleavage (this one’s more for me, right now).

Neither females nor males should be consumed with worrying about how what they wear might make another “stumble.” However, it’s a fact of the human condition (not just males…though males do seem to be more visually oriented) that another person dressed in what is culturally perceived as sexy is going to get our attention in a sexual way. I challenge anyone to say that looking at a good looking person, scantily clad isn’t at least a little interesting. A hot guy with no shirt on pleases my eye, I’m not going to lie.

Does this mean that we can’t/shouldn’t treat someone with respect however they’re dressed? Of course not. Every human being deserves to be treated with dignity and love. Even if we’re committed to treating people with respect, we may still struggle with how we react to and perceive folks who dress sexy. And I do think men and women tend to process these things a little differently, i.e. men tend to have a more difficult time paying attention to the person herself when a woman is dressed sexy. The younger the man, the more difficulty he has.

Another human fact is that women are still more vulnerable to sexual assault than men and men are more likely than women to sexually assault. Of course, I’m speaking in general terms and what’s statistically true. And it’s also true that rape usually has more to do with power than sex and a woman NEVER deserves to be raped no matter how she behaves or is dressed. But, dressing in a culturally-perceived revealing way DOES tend to put a woman more at risk. It’s not right and it’s not fair but it’s a fact. So….

I try to protect myself by wearing what I consider reasonably modest clothing. I enjoy looking as good as I can but there’s some skin I just don’t need to show the world at large. And I don’t enjoy others having a conversation looking at my boobs instead of my eyes. I want my son and daughter to be treated with respect as well as treat others with respect. Therefore, I counsel them to be aware of how they dress and behave.

Would I do what this mother did on FB? Most likely not. Perhaps I would block the females showing revealing pictures but that would go for the males as well. I cringe when I see young teens showing half-dressed pics on FB. All I can think is how a predator would respond. I want my children safe. As a woman, I protect myself.

I should note that I think the human body is beautiful and not shameful. I hope I have taught my children the same. I’m horrified when people freak out over breastfeeding in public or worry more about sex in the media than violence. However, I also don’t appreciate Victoria’s Secret billboards while driving down the highway with my kids either.

Sorry for the long response. As a parent, this post struck a chord with me. I hope I was able to convey my feelings about it clearly.

September 4, 2013 | 6:29 pm

    Emmie

    Thanks for commenting!

    Her post obviously struck a big chord with me as well. The main problem I have with it is that she absolves her sons of responsibility for their thoughts and actions instead of using that moment to instruct them about how they can engage with the girls in question as humans. The link Lisa posted in the comments has a fabulous, faith-oriented response that has many of the same points as mine, but from a more faith-based side of things. (I’m agnostic.)

    I truly believe that sexual assault and violence toward women will only decrease when we teach our sons (and daughters) to be responsible for their own actions and thoughts. Women can cover up to the neck and ankles, play it safe by every angle in the book, and still be violated, abused, and hurt. I would also want my children safe, but I also don’t want any of my future progeny to become a perpetrator out of ignorance of what consent means. I don’t want my children growing up to think that scanty clothing is correlated to morality (or lack thereof) — I want them to know to treat others with respect, to be advocates for themselves and others, and to be better at this stuff than previous generations have.

    September 4, 2013 | 6:40 pm

      Sonia G Medeiros

      Totally agree. I think respecting others is of the utmost importance. It’s certainly where I focus the most energy with my kids. Modesty’s really almost a separate issue and changes from era to era and place to place.

      September 4, 2013 | 7:22 pm

    Robert

    Sonia, yours is one of the most reasoned, articulate, genuine responses to this issue that I’ve read. And it also closely parallels my own feelings, which is probably why I like it so much!!

    September 8, 2013 | 1:40 am

tmso

Ug. That was something I didn’t need to read. But glad you are on it!

I do want to mention to Ms. Medeiros – I understand the reality (that men/boys are currently brought up to sexualize women), but if we (as women) do not claim the right to display our bodies how ever we like (sexually titillating or not*, then when will that stop? When will men/boys be made to be responsible for their own thoughts?

The more you tell your daughter to fear (to cover up, to be modest), the more she will fear and the more she will have reason to fear. Just saying.

*I mean, come on – that woman showed her boys with so much bare skin, I was titillated! (Yes, I’m a dirty old woman.) But just because I was turned on, just because probably most women and some men found her boys attractive, no one is calling them sluts. Or asking them to cover up. Or thinking how we might be able to take advantage of them in a dark, slimy alley… See what I mean?

September 4, 2013 | 9:01 pm

    Emmie

    I agree. Behaviors in response to fear breed their own problems.

    Additionally, she had another post (which I won’t link to) that had a video of her sons dancing to a song, pelvic thrusting, gyrating, etc. — but that’s fine for her family to post publicly and laugh at. If it had been teenage girls doing it, she would have blocked them.

    September 4, 2013 | 9:50 pm

      tmso

      Exactly. Double standards. Very sad, indeed.

      September 4, 2013 | 10:01 pm

Beth Woolsey: Five Kids Is A Lot Of Kids

I need to know you. Partly because DOWN WITH SHAMING, but most because I’m a total urban fantasy junkie. Also, you have great hair. Also-also, I’m Irish and Scottish so I can go Celtic toe-to-toe with you and hold my own. Also-also-also, I believe in drinking beer, which has nothing to do with being anti-shaming, pro-equality, pro-urban-fantasy or pro-lovely-hair, but everything to do with being Irish and Scottish, and, since you’re my self-appointed NEW FRIEND (yay!), I felt full disclosure was in order.

Please tell me I win some sort of prize for weirdest comment EVER.

September 4, 2013 | 9:02 pm

    Emmie

    Excuse me while I *TACKLE HUG*

    Okay, I’m back. New friend! Hello! I am Emmie! Thank you for coming by and for being AWESOME!

    This is very exciting. I have just followed you on Twitter. I should also tell you that the URL of your blog made me laugh so hard that I giggle every time I think about it.

    September 4, 2013 | 9:47 pm

Miranda

Yes, a thousand times.

September 4, 2013 | 10:47 pm

Dear Mrs. Hall | Meizac

[…] Can We Knock Off The Slut Shaming? (emmiemears.com) […]

September 5, 2013 | 10:22 am

Annie

You nailed it. “These are the messages we send girls. We’re sending them the message that they’re supposed to be hot, beautiful, sexy. But the second they display those things of their own agency, they’re called sluts and whores, told they’re too fat or too skinny or too something.”

September 5, 2013 | 11:09 am

    Emmie

    Thanks! And yeah…it’s utterly depressing.

    September 5, 2013 | 11:13 am

queenofthecouch

Love your response! That Amanda Palmer video is one of my favorites! I’ve written so many blogs centered on the theme of slut shaming and rape culture, though most of mine are dripping with sarcasm and hyperbole. I wrote about MileyCyrusGate the other day too. I was pretty floored by the vitriol directed at her, with no mention of Robin Thicke or his rape anthem, other than to express pity for the “violation” he had to endure.
It makes feel better to see more and more people taking a stand against the glaring double standard.

September 5, 2013 | 11:43 am

    Emmie

    Thanks so much for stopping by! And yeah, that whole VMA thing made me growly.

    I’ve been encouraged by the number of people taking a stand, though. 🙂

    September 5, 2013 | 11:45 am

FYI: (bras are not the protectors of virtue, among other things) | gratuitous double dash

[…] Can We Knock Off The Slut Shaming? (emmiemears.com) […]

September 5, 2013 | 12:22 pm

Sarah Ahiers

I love you. And I award you my allotment of internet points for today.

Also, THIS:

teenage girls trying to live up to the media standard of beautiful are not the sum of their Facebook pictures. By blocking these girls and shaming them publicly, she’s essentially telling her sons that these teen girls ARE sexual objects, to be shunned and avoided if they don’t meet her criteria of modesty. To be hidden away instead of engaging with them like people.

*slow applause*

And yeah, Kyle Greenburg was awesome. I saw a bunch of Jezzies talking about his badassness yesterday

September 5, 2013 | 12:37 pm

    Emmie

    ORLY? Good for him! 😀

    And I love you too! *tucks interetz into Pouch of Awesome*

    September 5, 2013 | 12:54 pm

krystlebartholomew

“Pouting teenage girl + teenage boy =/= MELTDOWN, but if we continue to condition boys into this mindset that they have no control over their thoughts, their fantasies, and their actions, how the hell are we surprised when they treat women like playthings?”

Nailed…it. *slow clap* It’s sad how little she realized EXACTLY how much she was enforcing this very message to her boys.

September 5, 2013 | 12:39 pm

    Emmie

    Yep. I suspect it’s because she herself has been so conditioned into the purity/modesty culture in which women are responsible for keeping men from stumbling, because men can’t walk in a straight line without tripping and falling on someone’s boobs.

    That sort of mentality to me is just bass-ackwards and toxic to both men and women. Not to mention insulting to men.

    September 5, 2013 | 12:41 pm

Jae

Yeah, when I saw her sons scantily clad on the beach she lost her credibility with me. If you have a standard, fine, but apply it equally across the board. I really dislike the double-standard on that. It reminded me of a scene in Persepolis where the protag is complaining about how cumbersome the almost-burqa they have to wear is, but their male counterparts can show up dressed like they rolled out of bed or worse. I’m very religious-focused in my life. I would like to see women behave more modestly and dress more modestly. But I’d like the same things from men. I far more appreciate a guy who isn’t wearing his pants around his ankles, who isn’t isn’t sloppy and lazy about his appearance, and who acts and talks like a man and not a prepubescent boy.

But I also believe what people want to do with their lives is none of my business (as long as it stays out of my business). I’m sure Mrs. Hall’s comments were well-intentioned. It’s a shame she doesn’t realize everything she’s saying. Hopefully she understands a little better now. And at the very least, I’m glad this is getting some good conversations going about this topic.

September 5, 2013 | 1:34 pm

    Emmie

    Agreed. I really hope she’s willing to listen to the people outside her faith group as well as the people within it.

    September 5, 2013 | 1:40 pm

Jesse Wright

I read the other article and your article. I don’t have a problem with either of your points or opinions. But I think there comes a point with teens where common sense should take over. Then again common sense isn’t all that common anymore.

We’ve all done silly things. Luckily for my age group Facebook and Twitter didn’t exsist so while there might be pics of stupid stuff in a shoebox somewhere, they aren’t online.

I think this is a tough one for parents. We don’t want to stifel our kids, but we don’t want them hurt either. I’d like to see kids stay kids just a shade longer than they seem to these days.

Media and society changes, seem to have forced them to grow up a little faster.

I guess we’ll see how it goes in 10 years when my son is a teen and hopefully we will have taught him well enough to make the right choices on his own, and we as parents won’t be blocking anybody from whatever the next big social media craz is then.

September 5, 2013 | 3:43 pm

    Emmie

    Yeah, I saw someone bring up the point of letting teens know “I can see you,” which I think is a very important thing. For them to know simply that others can see what they post publicly and that it exposes them to judgment, warranted or not.

    September 5, 2013 | 4:00 pm

The “FYI: If You’re A Teenage Girl” Debate. | johanna bayne

[…] Can We Knock Off The Slut Shaming? (emmiemears.com) […]

September 6, 2013 | 9:44 am

Rachel Varner

We Girls can read each other well. The Only reason we wear something seductive or inappropriate Is to catch men’s attention. And by catching their attention- I don’t mean to get them to think about our great personality or how smart we are. So while I would think that most guys Don’t have such a hard time controlling their thoughts about us girls- like that mom said they do- I’m okay with not intentionally dressing in a way that has dudes lusting after me. Secondly- I read the article that this one is talking about. The mom who wrote it doesn’t call young ladies “sluts” or even say that they should be ashamed of themselves. It’s just a reminder to young ladies of what should be common sense: The way a person publicly portray themselves has a lot to do with how other people see and think of them/ their character. Ladies should make an effort to make the image they present to others- a good one. She said all of this in a very kind and even loving-parent way.Personally Miss Emmie- I’m thankful for mothers who care enough to share loving advice with young ladies who might need to hear it. I am thankful that there are mom’s (and Dad’s too) who say that they want their son’s to be encouraged to think of and treat women with more respect and dignity. All that aside though- I have to mention that your strong emotional response to the Moms article is a bit over- reactive. And the rough terminology you use makes me think that a lot of what you wrote was from a self-defensive point of view. Yes- the article was of such a nature that it did step on a few toes. But even then the Mom’s reason/motivation for writing it was honorable. Which at least means her that heart’s in the right place. If you feel so strongly about defending young ladies rights to have indecent pictures of themselves posted on public websites- I gotta wonder what your priorities are.

September 6, 2013 | 5:15 pm

    Emmie

    “Slut-shaming” is not limited to use of the word “slut” itself. But that’s exactly what she did — using teenage girls’ photos as the impetus, she shamed them by blocking them from interacting with her family on social media. Furthermore, your comment made assumptions about me as a person that are unfair and ungrounded. My reactions come from many years within the sort of culture from which Mrs. Hall wrote — a culture in which teenage girls were taught to cover up their bodies to prevent their “brothers” from “stumbling” instead of teaching young men that they and they alone have the power to control their own thoughts and the actions that result from them. This mindset blames women for male lust, and, in the more tragic cases, for sexual violence.

    The phrase “slut shaming” is the product of a culture where women don’t have to be physically promiscuous to be titled a “slut.” I’ve even spoken to friends and acquaintances about their choice to say that a 12-year-old was “dressing slutty.” Because of Mrs. Hall’s strong faith and the culture in which she lives, I wouldn’t expect her to use the word itself to describe teenage girls, but in her language and choices to cut these girls off from interacting with her sons, shaming them is exactly what she’s doing.

    I was in no way saying that young girls ought to post “indecent” pictures of themselves on public websites or operate in this world without caution. What I was saying is that it is not my responsibility (or the responsibility of teen girls) to carry the burden of mens’ sexual thoughts and desires. A blogger over at Defeating Dragons wrote a fabulous, fabulous post called “My Body Is Not A Stumbling Block,” which I highly suggest you read.

    I operate in a world where I walk to work every single day because I don’t have the use of a car. In that ten minute walk, I am stopped, harassed, propositioned, followed, yelled at, jeered at, catcalled, wolf-whistled, honked at, cursed at, and demeaned on a daily basis. It doesn’t matter if I’m wearing shorts and a t-shirt or jeans and a parka — it happens year round, rain or shine. I do nothing to cause that reaction. I’m minding my own business, keeping to myself — and still, it happens. I tell you this because it frankly doesn’t matter what women do in this world; there are men all over it who will objectify us because they feel it is their right, that the mere presence of our bodies is an excuse or an invitation to comment upon them, regardless of how many layers of fabric are on them.

    Had Mrs. Hall simply opened a conversation about this topic instead of shutting it down before it could start by simply blocking these girls on Facebook, I would have been more open to what she had to say. All her warm language doesn’t make up for her own words — that she booted these girls off her family’s virtual island first and discussed second. Additionally, I’m not sure she was even writing to those girls if they weren’t likely to actually see it. It seems unlikely to me that many of her son’s friends frequent her blog. Her post, to me, was more for her own benefit than theirs. I’ve yet to see any actual teenage girls weigh in on what she had to say, and I’d very much like to.

    All young people (well, all people, but especially minors) should be cognizant of the public nature of social media. What doesn’t follow is the idea that young women should be ruined by taking selfies out of a desire to feel attractive — or banished from their friends’ pages. I think it also bears mentioning that she chose to use her blog to write this letter about people who probably have no idea they’re the subject of it. This isn’t assertive. That is passive aggressive.

    I also strongly disagree with your assertion that women only dress to impress men or draw their attention. Girls often dress to impress one another, especially as teens in the clique-fest that is most high schools. I was far more concerned in high school by the cool girls (of which I was not a member) scrutiny of my thrift store outfits than I was by the idea of boys. Additionally, you don’t have to dress in a revealing manner to experience guys lusting after you. Again, I’ll reference the blog post over at Defeating Dragons. It is the responsibility of every person to look at others as full humans, not as objects of lust.

    I have nothing against Mrs. Hall. She’s doing what she thinks is best for her children. I simply think that this world needs more boys who are raised to respect women regardless of what they’re wearing — because not every woman they meet will share their faith or views. Her intentions WERE, as you put it, honorable. It doesn’t follow that her advice is laudable. Good intentions do not equate to good execution or good outcomes.

    I would appreciate if in future posts, you refrained from calling me “Miss Emmie.” Emmie is just fine, and I don’t appreciate being spoken down to. If you choose to comment further, please also refrain from making assumptions about me as a person. I’ve never posted pictures like Mrs. Hall describes. I’m married, monogamous, and dress rather conservatively. And even if I didn’t, your assumption that my reaction is simply defensiveness is quite frankly, rude. Your words also imply that I, by default, don’t appreciate parental involvement or the desire to raise good kids. As someone who has eleven nieces and nephews, that’s far from the truth. I do appreciate her intentions as stated, but I strongly disagree with the way she chose to express them as well as her one-sided application of her ideals. I saw nothing in her post about encouraging her sons to behave toward women with dignity — at least not all women. The way she wrote the post, only women who meet her standards of modesty are worthy of engagement and interaction, let alone respect.

    As for the terminology, “slut shaming” is a fairly common term for society’s tendency to assume that any expression of female sexuality is an indicator of promiscuity as well as the societal tendency to condemn female promiscuity while at the same time either rewarding men for the same or, at mildest, attributing male promiscuity to male nature and thus absolving them of the same scrutiny and censure.

    My priorities? They’re for a world where women and men are equals, where I can walk the ten minutes to work without being harassed, where strange men don’t try to touch me in public, where people don’t assume based on a woman’s clothing that she lacks character, where one in three women won’t be beaten or raped in their lifetimes, where women aren’t blamed for their rapes, where young men are taught about consent, where young men are taught that you can still engage respectfully with someone wearing something you find indecent, where I would have been able to report my rape with confidence that it would have resulted in a conviction (my chances for that happening were less than 2%), where teen girls aren’t first thrown into a pool of cultural expectation as to what constitutes beauty and sexiness and then drowned when they try to swim.

    If you take all those things into account, I don’t feel my reaction to her post was too far at all.

    And this: http://natepyle.com/seeing-a-woman/ is the perfect example of how I think an ideal world would raise the male half of the population.

    September 6, 2013 | 6:12 pm

      Robert

      Emmie, thank you for actually defining the shaming term; I’m seeing it everywhere but honestly wasn’t sure exactly what it referred to.

      “..the societal tendency to condemn female promiscuity while at the same time either rewarding men for the same..”

      This is something I’ve noticed my entire life, and even as a guy, it bothers me. My own personal value system makes me look down upon promiscuity from either gender. I love sex and see it as a God-given gift, but I don’t feel it should be a casual or frivolous thing.

      September 8, 2013 | 1:57 am

        Emmie

        No problem! Thanks for stopping by!

        September 12, 2013 | 12:36 pm

Antigone's Clamor

Great response, Emmie!

I feel like I’m pretty religiously conservative, but I find the modesty movement extremely offensive and demeaning to both men and women. It’s a perversity of what Paul taught in the Bible, and I often wonder if a lot of it is women turning their insecurities and shame into convictions, which is sad. Jesus came to free from shame and guilt and to transform hearts, and that’s the opposite of what this movement is teaching.

Anyway, this was the most amusing post I have seen in response to the original one. Don’t know if you’ve seen it yet. http://theirondaisywrites.wordpress.com/2013/09/04/fyi-if-youre-a-teenage-boy/

September 11, 2013 | 6:04 am

JennyTimeTraveler

Oh my gosh, I love this post so much. Growing up as a girl is hard as hell, I was taught modesty and respect for myself…I was also taught to think very little of girls that chose to act opposite of me. The confusing part was always the fact that I secretly wanted to be sexy too, because its HUMAN NATURE to want to be desirable. It wasn’t until I met the man that became my husband that I realized not only are there mature, responsible, men in the world that don’t treat women like objects, but I could also be sexy and be proud to be a woman without being a “slut.” The hard part has been overcoming everything I was taught and learning to respect, understand, and love women that are confident enough to show their bodies off. There is nothing wrong with them, I dress sexually sometimes too…its our right to wear what we want.
As for Miley Cyrus I find it alarming that everyone bashes her but praises thong-wearing Lady Gaga….what is THAT about?

September 14, 2013 | 10:12 am

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