Friday, September 6, 2013

A Response to the Mom Who Blocked Sexy Selfies From Her Teenage Sons

Act #249:  Judge less, mentor more.

This week, a blog post written by a mom of teenage sons went viral.  Author, Kim Hall is also the Director of Women’s ministry at All Saints in Austin, TX.   While I admire Ms. Hall for her convictions to protect her boys from sultry, sexy teenage girl selfies that make her blush, I can't help but question the effectiveness of her approach.  In her blog, titled, FYI, If You're a Teenage Girl, Hall sends a stern warning to all the girls in skimpy pjs, the ones not wearing bras, who arch their backs, and have sultry pouts - that she is blocking their posts and banning them from her sons' on-line social life.  She prays that her sons will be drawn to "real beauties, the kind of women who will leave them better people in the end."  She prays that her sons will be "worthy of this kind of woman, that they will be patient – and act honorably – while they wait for her."

Rather than blocking them, why not reach out to them?
Ms. Hall, I know you've been there.  You were a teen once.  You know what it's like to grow up in a world where girls are valued less than their male counterparts.  Where girls are supposed to be perfect little princesses.  Where girls are judged by their capacity to look pretty and attract attention.  You know how brutal high school can be - how much girls struggle with the pressures of attaining the media-imposed perfect body, how difficult it is to come to terms with your sexuality, the high rates of dating and sexual violence they experience from boys and bullying from other girls.  Do you ever wonder what might be going on in the home life of that pouty girl in the sexy pajamas?  Did you know that 44 percent of all sexual assault victims are under the age of 18?  That 50% of reported date rapes occur among teenagers?  That 95% of the 8 million Americans with eating disorders are girls and women ages 12 to 25?  That 51% of teens are afraid to talk to their parents about their problems and 40% are afraid of not fitting in?  That 1 in 3 girls who have been in a serious relationship say they've been concerned about being physically hurt by their partner?  That 75% of teenage girls felt depressed, guilty and shameful after spending just three minutes leafing through a fashion magazine?  Rather than blocking her, why not invite her over for dinner?  Rather than condemn her, why not show her by example, how she might grow up to love herself, to value her body, and to believe that people like you exist - people who accept her for who she is, regardless of what she is wearing?
Rather than hoping for the kind of woman who will leave your sons better people, why not invest in raising boys who are already good people?
Ms. Hall, that's a whole lot of pressure you are placing on someone you have absolutely no control over.  I trust that you are also placing the same amount of time and energy in teaching your boys to value and respect women REGARDLESS of  what they are wearing, whether they have a bra on or not.   By blocking these girls from your sons' newsfeed, you are sending a powerful message to your boys about the value of women.  That some women are not worthy of them, especially if they dress and act a certain way.  I too, have a son and I will always, ALWAYS teach him to look beyond the surface and value every human - enough to really get to know them.  I learned quickly in college that some of the most conservatively-dressed, church-going girls, who were saving themselves for marriage, faced the same pressures that other girls faced - and many were engaging in oral sex behind closed doors, and succumbing to abusive relationships just to please the kind of boys who grew up with permission to devalue the kind of girl not good enough to bring home to mom.

You tell teenage girls around you that they are growing into "a real beauty", inside and out.  You tell them to act like her, speak like her, post like her.  I challenge you to act like someone who once used to be a teenage girl.  To judge less and mentor more. To raise your sons to value all women, not just the ones who are "worthy" in your eyes.

To read Ms. Hall's full article:  http://givenbreath.com/2013/09/03/fyi-if-youre-a-teenage-girl/.

5 comments:

  1. We share a lot of the same sentiments in response to this piece! My husband and I were talking, he took the article to read along the lines of "I want my sons to look at you properly, so we had to block your profile as a family." Understanding that these girls and the Hall family still had interaction outside of SM.

    I leaned more towards your side and thought her piece came across as highly judgemental. "I want to protect my sons from looking at your slutty pictures!" I can only hope that she DOES reach out to these girls and mentor them in a completely loving way. Deffo didn't get that from the article.

    AND, to point out, her first version of this piece had pictures of HER tanned, toned boys at the beach in swimwear. My husband and I both thought her silent argument discredited her written one.

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  2. Thanks for posting this. I feel like I could write a post of my own about all that I agree with.
    I definitely agree with the mom that social media should be monitored by parents AND that exposure to scantily-clad people should be limited for all of us (though she focused only on her teenage sons), but the way she said it fell flat for me. To address a post specifically to teenage girls, telling them to wear more clothes, and include several pictures of shirtless teenage boys in muscle poses was downright insulting to me. I was shocked that so many of my friends shared and posted it as something great. Sometimes I forget just how deeply the double standard for men/women boys/girls runs still today. I was glad to learn that she switched out the pictures and apologized, but the fact that she wouldn't see that as a double standard in the first place is a testament to some of the deeper issues in our society.
    I could say SO much more, but will stop.
    Looking forward to the day when ALL people are valued and respected for their full worth (despite color, gender or specific traits).

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  4. I didn't get to read the full article but agree with you ladies and may I say you have spoken with love in your hearts which I question if Ms. Hall was when writing her article. I have a teenage daughter and it is a daily struggle to encourage her to be herself and proud of who she is but to be cautious of the image she is putting out there of herself. People will always judge it is human nature, we have to teach ourselves, and in my belief, rely on God to help us love and appreciate all of His creations. My daughter posted a picture up of herself in her new bikini taken herself standing in front of the bathroom mirror last year. I asked her to take it down and she asked me why because she just wanted to show her new bathing suit off. I told her she has to be careful of the pictures she posts on social media because you can't control what people will think and do with them. This also applies to what you say in your posts. I told her group pictures of her in her bikini at the beach or in the pool would be fine. I tried to explain that a picture taken by her of just her is different than a group picture taken at an event or activity. This may seem wrong to some of you but I feel that if you post a picture of just you, you are asking for approval or acceptance. This is what I was trying to explain to my daughter and to keep that in mind when dealing with social media. Don't put something on social media that you don't want others to comment on. Also don't turn to social media for acceptance. Look to God, yourself, your family and friends, face to face, to receive love.

    I have a son as well and will teach him that same as I do my daughter. I pray that God helps me to be a good parent and give my children the tools to be responsible, compassionate people.

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