Since I got such a huge reaction to my previous post about this peice, I loaded up to the shop early as a sneak peek to the new things coming in the next few weeks.
check it out!
Latest poster for SDG. This year’s snow brawl is “A Christmas Story” themed. I got the idea for the skate from the monster high roller girl line. Those dolls are awesome and I want to collect them all. I need to sit down and sort through all my knew work and update the ol’ portfolio. The last three posters I did all involved legs, so I really have to do something else for the next one, that’s for sure!
Recently a few things have been creeping into my social media feeds that have been sitting on my brain very heavily. These articles are all about teenage girls, the proper ways they should act and the importance of meeting these standards if these hypothetical girls want to gain the affections of the writer’s sons and attain the approval of the writer, most often a mom. There was one that was just a list about rules for dating the writer’s, and then by proxy, those who reposted it, son. Offbeat Families did a great response that made me feel a lot better about the whole idea, called "It’s Cool if You’re not a Woman and 9 Other Rules for Dating my Son." Maybe someone would read that and really think about what they’re saying.
Now I’m a visual artists and don’t post a lot of long form essay posts. Honestly, I am channeling my many feels into a graphic novel project that’s meant to be an open letter to the young girls in my life and the potential daughter’s I may have. But today I read this article: entitled FYI (if you’re a teenage girl) It seems sweet enough, right? So many mothers of both boys and girls that are following me or friends with me are reposting it telling the author to PREACH girlfriend! I read it and it didn’t sit right. I sat with the article open a long time thinking about it and trying to figure out why this just rubbed me the wrong way.
For one, the idea of a family activity being everyone sitting around and judging other people’s facebook pages, seems kind of messed up. The author masks it with a caring hand, but really it reads like her son’s facebook is the place to be but these girls didn’t wear the right shirt so they don’t get access. From the picture in her article, her sons aren’t exactly infants here. Do these boys completely lack their own judgement or freedom to choose their own friends? I struggle with it. As a step mother, I try to be a very present parent and very involved in my step daughter’s life. I want to know who she’s friends with and how she may present herself online when she reaches that age, but I don’t see myself as being the police of that. It feels like a boundary is crossed to police a child’s social life when there isn’t laws being broken. And it feels very wrong to judge people based on nothing but their facebook…when they’re teenagers.
The author starts this article in kind of a condescending tone, do other people get that? She mentions that her sons notice that in these pictures the girl in question is not wearing a bra. She approaches this in tone, as if it’s indecent. I don’t wear bra, regularly. Why? Because they’re uncomfortable and I don’t think I need to wear some boulder holders to make my breasts the perfect shape and perkiness for someone else. Leave girls alone. They have a right to not wear a bra, it’s not against the law. And not wearing a bra doesn’t suddenly make them a sex object. It’s a personal choice a woman has the right to make and this ever so perfect family really has no right to judge a woman on that fact. Not wearing a bra was one of the best things I ever did and I really did not do it because I thought it would get a man’s attention. I know it’s a shock, but most if the decisions women makes are not -for- men.
The author carries on, commenting on the girl in question’s “selfie” poses. She refers to a teenager’s pout as sultry. When talking about her arched back, it seems as if she’s implying an arched back is somehow beckoning. Then she claims that the family genuinely enjoys seeing life through her colorful lens, but then follows it with the news that, sorry honey but we’re blocking your sluttly slut face. Not in those words. But see, the author just lied to the reader. Mom does not enjoy seeing life through this girl’s eyes because she just judged her indecent by her family’s standards. If this girl’s world view is sex positive, then Mom should be interested in reading about it since her life is so different, and from everything I’ve read the girl has not shown her bare breasts or propositioned her family for sex. That’s what enjoying another person’s perspective means. But no, this anonymous girl’s viewpoint is never explored. She is just blocked and addressed as someone who has made mistakes and should put on her good girl outfit and be a “real lady” if she hopes to get the golden ticket back to her son’s facebook.
Let’s talk about the “selfie” the author has described. First we must address that from the time we (women) are forced out of the birth canal, there is nothing more important than being beautiful. We start as a beautiful baby girl, our toys in vast majority are about being a pretty pretty girl, the compliments girls get up until they’re about 6 is “you’re so pretty!” Not smart, not talented, not creative, not brave, not strong, but pretty, over and over again. When a girl turns 6 she enters school and she’ll find out if she really is pretty or not within the first 5 minutes of the experience. For the rest of their lives, they will be elevated as one of the pretty girls and receive all the benefits and hindrances that go along with that or she will be one of the ugly girls. A girl’s entire self worth is tied to being pretty and it’s completely messed up. When you’re an “ugly girl” every compliment given feels like a consolation prize for not being pretty. From infancy through childhood, everything around a girl tells her that she needs to be a pretty girl, that’s the standard. What’s pretty? Go to the very pink isle in a toy store and think about what you see. Then open pre-teen and teen girl magazines, what’s pretty? Why are there diet tips in a magazine for 10 year olds? Just soak that all in. When a girl gets into her twenties, magical things start to happen, where people notice the beauty she has outside of that pink standard. But if she was an ugly girl, she will never shake the label in herself and unless she gets some serious feminist rage/empowerment, she will always feel some shame about not being perfect.
Think about that for a long time, maybe the people that reposted the article were in the pretty girl club and didn’t have to make certain efforts to be noticed that way. Now this girl’s photo has an arched back and a sultry pout. The pout, if the reader is referring to something akin to the duck face, slims the face out and gives the illusion of cheek bones. It’s not about being sexy, it’s about making a girls face look less fat, because I am 100% sure this girl probably thinks she’s too fat, because being a teenage girl is awful. The arched back is kind of vague, but in a world where there is nothing more important than being attractive, its very likely she’s imitating a model pose. Arching the back, angling the body a certain way, it’s all about creating something visually appealing and often, slimmer. So perhaps the author should question that whole concept right there, Maybe the writer should try -actually- empowering girls to feel beautiful without meeting the standard and not tie their self worth to the attention they get from others. The author tries to flip it that she’s trying to show these girls there’s more to them than sexy pictures, but that’s the key, it’s a “sexy” picture. The author ties the girl’s picture to an attempt at being an object of sexual desire instead of just a girl trying to be beautiful to meet someone else’s standards. This harlot won’t be getting near this mom’s boys, no sir.
Let’s say the picture is about sexual attention, what then? Firstly, the girl in question needs to be made aware of the sex laws in her state, because she could get labeled a sex offender even if she engages in sexual contact even with someone her own age. She needs to be aware of those repercussions in addition to that of STDs and pregnancy in order to make well informed decisions. But we have now entered a world called “slut shaming,” and it’s the act of shaming someone for being sex positive and open to sexuality and it often leads to victim blaming. This girl’s picture does not sound that risque to me, but if this girl got assaulted, I firmly believe the author of this article would believe she has asked for it. The adult woman author, referred to a teenage girl, who is still a child, as sultry. Even the author is sexualizing this girl without really thinking that an adult SHOULDN’T be sexualizing a child even if she has pouty lips. If this girl is truly a sexually active teen, who wants to be seen as sexy, that’s her right and something she should take pride in, because it’s her choice. If you are a sex positive woman, you’re sex positive for you and what this girl does is not for the benefit of anyone but herself. Those are her rights. What is not anyone else’s right is to take advantage of her, rape her, demand sex from her or even expect sex from her, regardless of the clothes she wears or how sultry her pout is. But I doubt the author of this article shares my viewpoint, and honestly, that’s a problem.
Third option? Maybe this girl was just taking a damn picture and the Hall family should leave her alone!
Here’s my favorite line:
"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?"
This quote makes me see RED! Let’s take the second part of this sentence first. “You wouldn’t want the Hall boys to only think of you in this sexual way, do you?” Well, for one, if the Hall boys have such fantastic parents as the author would have you believe, they shouldn’t, regardless of this girl’s facebook picture. But that wording tells me that if they do only see girls as sexual object, the author believes it is completely this girl’s fault for it happening, not her sons being raised as chauvinist pigs. What about teaching them respect for women? But I guess the idea is this girl does not deserve respect because she took a picture of herself in a towel.
Now the first…”Did you know that once a male sees you in a state of undress, he can’t ever un-see it?” Where are the scientific studies to back that up? Does the author have such little faith in young men, even her sons, that they have no self control? No other thoughts besides boobs? Does this author think that seeing a girl wrapped in a towel will work them into such a sexual frenzy that they can’t control themselves? Because they see worse on TV every day. And I’m sure seeing this girl at school everyday hasn’t posed a problem for these boys. Really, the issue is the author does not want her sons to see a girl in a sexual way, because that means they might have sex. And since nothing can be her perfect sons’ fault, these girls must be temptresses making her sons have dirty dirty sex. This idea makes me think of Burkas, not just head scarves, but the full burka that covers a woman from head to toe to prevent men from having sexual thoughts about a woman. Funny thing though, it doesn’t. Men think about sex. I’m sure the sons in this article have a porno magazine stashed somewhere in their room. And there’s nothing wrong with that. “We hope to raise men with a strong moral compass, and men of integrity don’t linger over pictures of scantily clad high-school girls.” well if you’re raising them that way, it shouldn’t matter if those pictures exist.
To apply icing to this cake, there are two pictures of her sons in bathing suits, one in which they are flexing. Showing off their bodies for the camera. What that says: girl bodies are dirty and indecent, boy body’s are strong and acceptable. When I was in college, my male roommates walked around in their boxers all the time. Out in the hall, to the laundry room, around company. What if a lady did that? It wouldn’t be about comfort or it being hot out now would it? When I moved into a house in south Philadelphia, we had a mix of guys and girls living there, and us girls totally walked around in our underwear because it was hot and it was comfortable. So did the guys. One of our male roommates had a crush on both myself and our other roommate. Oddly enough, he didn’t take the action as an excuse to make advances or that we were asking for him to have sex with us.
Girls are desperately in need of empowerment right now. I have read two stories this year about teenage girls killing themselves after being sexually assaulted. The communities around those girls said they had asked for it, wanted it, citing facebook page photos and clinging to the myth of teenage girls tempting men into indecent acts. But that’s the thing, it’s a myth. Girls should have the freedom to take pride in their bodies and not be shamed. If the author of this article really wants to empower girls to be strong women of character, she shouldn’t base her case about shaming them. Young girls don’t need this message from Kim Hall. Not one bit.