Forgive me, Daughter-


Forgive me, 
for the time I borrowed, when you wanted to play. 

A woman’s curse

is not her period 

(Although they really can suck, but we all have gotten excited to see it at least once),

it’s that we have trouble remembering 

who we were

before we got promoted 

to Mom.

The time I borrow

is to show you 

being a woman 

doesn’t mean 

you have to choose. 

Stop Trying to Make Teenagers Sexy!

No sooner had my children been dropped off at school, then the Halloween paraphernalia had overtaken all the back to school supplies (No slacking in the retail industry). Yesterday I received my first spam from a Halloween costume shop. Of course I clicked it. I love to see the new costume additions every year, and come up with ideas of my own. While I was browsing, however, I found myself faced with a pretty horrific reality.

Lindsay Lohan, in one of her most iconic performances in the movie, Mean Girls, said it best,

“Halloween is the one night a year when girls can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.”

I’m incredibly disheartened by the way Halloween costume stores are contributing to the sexualization of our young girls. Teenagers are still children. Many of them don’t even have breasts, but at Spirit Halloween a “Teen” costume means exposing more skin than an adult costume.

Take a look at Exhibit A: The Teen Supergirl Costume

Now have a gander at Exhibit B: The Adult Supergirl Costume.

adultsupergirlNotice anything different? Apparently Spirit Halloween thinks a Teen should be in a sexier, more revealing, more sexualized outfit than her grownup, age-of-consent, counterpart. Oh, and flatter hair.

I wondered if this was a trend, so I browsed through a few other costume websites, and found these:

sexy teen demon

At least they aren’t using teen models to model these clothes.

 

 

This particular costume completely disrespects all of our Female soldiers who fight so hard to gain equal respect in the eyes of the country they serve. I’m not sure what kind of military this store thinks we have, but in our country women and men wear the SAME uniform.

 

 

 

 

I'm not even sure why this exists. Teen Playboy Bunny? That's child pornography, isn't it?

I’m not even sure why this exists. Teen Playboy Bunny? That’s child pornography, isn’t it?

 

 

I know it might sound prudish, especially if you knew me in my party girl days, and I’m sure it has something to do with my way-too-beautiful six year-old, who will one day grow up into a dangerously gorgeous teen, but I’m a little grossed out when I see teenaged girls depicted as sex symbols. To me, TEENAGED GIRLS AREN’T SEXY.

Allow me to clarify a few things:

  • While Eighteen, and Nineteen year-olds are consenting legal adults, they do not make up the majority of teenagers. Teenagers, as a group, are made up of Thirteens, Fourteens, Fifteens, Sixteens, and Seventeens. I may be able to swallow marketing sexier outfits to the Eighteen and Nineteen year old segment of Teens, but it’s absolutely disgusting to swathe them all in the same Teen category for that kind of advertising. I suggest marketing geniuses put their brains to work to come up with some other clever age categorization for Teen Adults, so that they can effectively reach their demographic. If you read the reviews on the Teen Supergirl outfit, that costume isn’t even made for a “small teen body”. So maybe the term: Pre-adult might suit the eighteen to twenty crowd a little better. Some other suggestions include: Senior Teen, Adulteen, or Almostgrown.
  • I believe the human form is beautiful, and not something to be ashamed of. This is not an argument about hiding the body away under blankets. My daughter actually wears a two-piece bathing suit, although I’m not thrilled that all I could find was something that exposed her stomach, but that serves a practical purpose. One-piece bathing suits make potty time desperate. I encourage my daughter, and all women, for that matter, to love their bodies, and to embrace their own beauty. I try to do the same.
  • This isn’t a conversation about slut-shaming either. How an adult woman choose to dress is absolutely her own prerogative, and whether she likes it or not, she does have to deal with the consequences of her choices. The truth is that the male gaze sexualizes women no matter what they wear. Our gender is constantly besieged with uninvited commentary about our appearance, whether we are gorgeous, ugly, fat, skinny, or anywhere in between.
  • I don’t believe that there is anything a person can wear that invites rape.

It’s not just happening with our teens either. Here is a costume I found for a TWEEN costume. Whilst the costume itself isn’t overtly sexy, the way the model is posed suggests that we should think it is.

TWEENsexypose

The more I think about it, the more I realize that we are barraged with images of young girls in provocative clothing all the time. Competitive dance teams come to mind quickly. Think back to all the ten year-olds you’re seeing in crop tops on television, or just watch an episode of Dance Moms; Cheerleaders in way too short skirts; Or just plain commercial advertising. A bra top on a little girl is probably the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard of. What are they even covering up? When did we start ascribing the characteristics of a woman to small children? When did it become okay to think of children in sexual terms?

My biggest beef is that we are allowing our children to imitate the costumes worn by adults. The word “sexy” isn’t being used overtly, but the silhouettes, hemlines, necklines, and shirt lengths are either the exact replicas of sexy clothing, or are actually sexier–just in youth sizes. Just the concept of sizing clothing intended to be sexy as 3T, or youth XS is so far beyond the capability of my understanding. I mean, think of the number of people who had to give their approval on those decisions. How did that conversation even happen?

“Hey boss, what do you think of the sexy nurse in teen size?”

“I like it.”

“Great, how about Exotic Dancer?”

“Make the skirt a little shorter, and the neckline lower, and make it in tween size too. Those twelve year-olds are gonna eat this stuff up!”

I think dressing kids up like mini-adults is kind of adorable, myself, but there are certain boundaries I subconsciously apply. For example, a little kid in tiny fatigues–adorable; a little kid in little scrubs–super cute; a little kid in a little suit–cute overload! When my Little was a toddler I created a mini version of an Audrey Hepburn a la Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and it’s still my favorite picture. However, when we start putting little kids in over the knee boots, or nipple tassels…things start getting creepy, and that doesn’t just apply to toddlers. That’s because the word sexy comes from the word sex–which is an act which should be reserved for adults only. When we even start to think about children in terms of sex, well, I don’t know about you, but I get that I’m-about-to-vomit feeling mixed with red hot rage. Tweenaged girls, and even young teen girls really don’t belong caught up in the midst of conversations about objectifying the female form. I don’t think anyone belongs there, but as adult women we are more prepared to fight these battles than our children are. Maybe by the time they get to our age, we’ll have defeated gender discrimination, but since we haven’t done it yet, how about we stop allowing our children to make the decisions in our homes, and say “no” to the sexy referee, huh?

This Halloween, let’s please encourage our children to stay children for as long as they can. Soon enough our daughters will be facing the same demeaning catcalls, and leering gazes of lecherous men.

We don’t have to rush it, do we?

 

 

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Happy Women’s Equality Day– August 26

“I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.

Maya Angelou

suffrage

 

Today marks the 95th Anniversary of the certification of the 19th Amendment on August 26, 2015. It might sound cheesy, but I feel humbled by the sacrifices made by our foremothers. If it weren’t for the hunger strikes, and the devotion of women committed to ensuring that we all are able to enjoy the same individual rights to influence, and have a voice in the path of our country, my life would be a very different thing. I think they would be so proud to know that parents actively aim to raise their daughters to understand they are just as capable of success as their male counterparts, and raise their sons to understand that biology does not predetermine success.  Even the fact that there is an argument which suggests society may be guilty of swinging the pendulum too far; or the concept of the white, male, buffoon as the only caricature acceptably mocked in public, tells the story of partial success that could never have even been considered without their help. That’s neither to say that we shouldn’t be concerned about letting the pendulum swing too far, nor to invalidate worthy complaints. I could probably write for hours about those. What I’m focusing on, however, is celebrating the achievements we’ve accomplished, not just as women, but as a society, because, let’s face it, without the who men champion equality, we won’t ever fully achieve it. It’s a group effort.

For starters,  I’m really glad we overcame this nonsense:

vintage-women-ads-18There was an idea, and there are still people who believe it, that echo Thomas Jefferson’s. In Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchmen, my still all-time favorite literary Dad (Don’t worry, I still love you Atticus. All heroes fall.), Atticus Finch, says, “Jefferson believed full citizenship was  a privilege to be earned by each man, that it was not something given lightly or to be taken lightly.  A man couldn’t vote simply because he was a man.  A vote was, to Jefferson, a precious privilege a man attained for himself…”  Somewhere along the line America decided against Thomas Jefferson’s ideology, making citizenship a right gain simply by being born on American soil as opposed to enforcing a litany of rules in order to obtain it. It is in large part thanks to the 15th Amendment that this happened. So, shout out to everyone who made that possible. We really dig this citizenship thing around here.

Of course, we should recognize that even after women were granted the vote we were still viewed as ignorant, unintelligent, and inexperienced in all things out of the home, as is evident with this kind of advertising common in the 1950s:

men are better

 

Nowadays we are fortunate that women have been recognized as the powerful, worthy individuals we are, and advertising has been increasingly reflecting that. Always is probably my favorite example of this with their #LikeaGirl campaign that aims to change the way the phrase “like a girl” is used.

Like-a-girl-cover-600x400I really love how this has been championed by Breast Cancer Awareness groups as well.

59399-Fight-Like-A-GirlThe fight isn’t over yet. Until we reach a point where the wage gap has been closed, men stop trying to make care decisions for women’s bodies, and the binders full of women have been freed, we can’t really say we’ve achieved total success. The achievements we have accomplished, however, should be celebrated.

As I write this, my daughter is asleep on the couch next to me, and I can’t help but see in her all the various potentials for success that lay before her. Because of the work done to open the doors by women who have gone before us there are endless options of doors open for her.

So Happy Women’s Equality Day. May we one day live to see the intentions of this day realized entirely, and a deep heartfelt thank you to all of those who keep fighting for it. I hope you all kick ass today… like a girl.

Dear Daughter, Please Don’t Fall in Love with Christian Grey

My Dear Daughter (and all other women too):

Please do not fall in love with Christian Grey, or anyone like him.

50-shades-of-abuse-flyer-canadaSure, he’s hot, and, yes, he’s super rich, but you are worth more than a pretty face and a fancy car. Just because he gives you butterflies in the stomach when he walks into your place of work, and fixes his stunning eyes at you when he asks you to direct him to the cable ties, doesn’t mean he loves you. Sure, he showed up after you drunk-dialed him from the bar, and he whisked you off to his penthouse after you puked in the flowers, but when a man warns you to stay away from him, you should listen. Especially if his idea of flirtation is threatening to hit you when you don’t want to be hit.

I’m all for empathy, and compassion. I really am. I believe people deserve second chances. I believe that bad things happen to good people, and that we don’t have any real control over some things. The thing is, my beautiful, sweet, darling girl, that there is no past so troubled; no history so convoluted; no dysfunction so incredible that it can explain, or excuse exerting oneself over another. There is no explanation that will ever make me understand or forgive a man (or woman) who abuses you.

  • It is not an expression of love when a man says:

“Alaska is very cold and no place to run. I would find you. I can track your cell phone–remember?'”

This is, in fact, a direct threat. It doesn’t mean that he loves you so much that he would never let you get away.  What it means is he is controlling. It means that he is a stalker, and stalkers are abusers. We’re not talking harmless high school drive-bys with your friends. We’re talking about tracking cell phones in Alaska, and having no where to run. Why else would you be running, if not to get away from someone who was trying to do you harm?

  • It’s one thing to hide it from me, even though I truly hope that you will trust me enough to tell me, but if you can’t tell anyone, you should really consider whether it’s because they won’t understand, or because you’re afraid they’d be right. That goes for anything that happens in any relationship. If you actually feel confident in your decisions, you won’t need validation, and it won’t matter what anyone says. You shouldn’t do things you aren’t proud of doing, or at least things that make you feel ashamed.
  • “What can I do to make you understand I will not run? What can I say?”He gazes at me, revealing his fear and anguish again. He swallows. “There is one thing you can do.”“What?” I snap.“Marry me,” he whispers.”

You should not agree to marry a man just to prove that you aren’t going to leave him, especially if he’s worried you’re going to leave after having beaten you/threatened you/yelled at you/ manipulated you. Marriage isn’t an endeavor to prove your love. Marriage is an agreement to join paths; to be partners; to grow up together. If a person is worried about your loyalty, marriage will not convince them. It will only serve to entrap you into an abusive relationship that will be even more difficult to escape.

 

  • This should not be your lover’s response, let alone your husband’s, to the announcement that you are pregnant.

“‘Christ Ana!’ He bangs his fist on the table. Making me jump, and stands so abruptly. he almost knocks the dining chair over. ‘You have one thing, one thing to remember, Shit! I don’t fucking believe it. How could you be so stupid!'”

Even if you forgot about birth control, your husband/lover/wife should never EVER call you stupid, yell at you, or frighten you. In fact, you shouldn’t be worried about making him mad all the time. He should respect you, and be concerned for your well-being. He should not manipulate you, isolate you, and he should certainly not touch you without permission, in ways you do not want to be touched. He should not leave bruises on your body to prevent you from being able to expose any part of your skin. He should not impose himself on your career. He should not infringe upon your healthy relationships with your friends. He should not hurt you, and no matter how many times he apologizes for having done so, you should not tolerate a repeat offense.

  • I can tell you that love is not about fear. Not in the way the relationship in this horrific excuse for writing is trying to convince you of. Questioning a relationship  for reasons like these:

“Because I can’t touch you, because I’m too frightened to show you any affection in case you flinch or tell me off or worse – beat me?”

are serious indicators that you are not being loved the way you deserve.

  • Most importantly, my darling daughter, you have a right to consent to sex. No one…and I mean NO ONE has the right to force sex on you. The moment you say “No”, anyone who loves you will stop until you tell them otherwise. This:

“‘No,’ I protest, trying to kick him off. He stops. ‘If you struggle, I’ll tie your feet too. If you make a noise, Anastasia, I will gag you.”

is rape, plain and simple. For no other reason, other than the fact that he is a rapist, you should stay away from men like Christian Grey. You do not need to save anyone from his past.  After sex you should never feel like:

“a receptacle – an empty vessel to be filled at his whim. […] an overwhelming urge to cry, a sad and lonely melancholy grips and tightens round my heart. Dashing back to my bedroom, I close the door and lean against it trying to rationalize my feelings. I can’t. Sliding to the floor, I put my head in my hands as my tears begin to flow.”

This is how a victim of rape feels. This is how a victim of abuse feels. It is not how you should feel after you’ve been intimate with anyone.

  • There is a variety of erotic practice called BDSM. Some say it stands for Bondage Discipline
    158321-162450

    Linked from https://50shadesofabuse.wordpress.com/fsog-chapter-20-analysis/

    Sadism & Masochism. Others say it’s Bondage, Dominance, Submission and Masochism. Either way, it is a practice that is entirely based upon a system of consent, open communication, and AGREED upon exchange of power where both parties are empowered. BDSM is not synonymous for abuse, nor is it an excuse for objectification. It is something that should be enjoyed by everyone involved, and not forced upon another person. Anyone who claims BDSM, and tries to hurt you is misappropriating the terminology as an excuse to be abusive. Needing to control another person’s entire life is not love.

I know you’re only a little girl right now, and I’m hopeful that this movie will be long forgotten by the time you’re old enough to watch it. I know that it’s supposed to be a fantasy, and there are those who will argue that it shouldn’t be taken seriously, and as a book that might hold true, because books have a higher barrier of entry than movies. It’s one thing to read about something. Seeing it played out on a screen makes it harder to separate the fantastic from the realistic. Kind of like the way I’ve spent my entire life hearing the stations of the cross, reading the Passion scenes in the Bible, or hearing them discussed from a pulpit, and then just barely being able to tolerate the brutality of it on screen in the movie The Passion of the Christ. The point is that there are people who might watch this movie and think that it’s a love story; a romance; because love is enough to change the battered puppy into a loving husband and father. It isn’t. It isn’t a love story. It’s a story of abuse. It isn’t about how love changed a man, because that’s not how it works. Love may be a catalyst, but real change doesn’t happen overnight. Real change, like the one this novel attempts to depict, takes LOTS of time.

There’s also an entire world of women who were once the five year-old daughters of mothers like me who are paying money to see this movie right now. I see them talking about it on social media, and my heart hurts for them; for their mothers. I’m writing this to them, as much as I am to you–probably more so.

If, however, you stumble across it some late night browsing Netflix, or it comes on some movie channel, I truly hope you will see it for the sad cry for help that it is. I hope that you, too, mourn for the author’s horrible controlling experiences that lead to writing such a story, and that you are able to see through it all and see the truth. I admit. I read the books. Twice. I enjoyed them too. That is, until I asked myself how I would feel if that college aged virgin was my daughter, or if it had been successful if it was 50 Shades of Brown. It was instant shame. Instant sadness, because it means that somewhere inside myself I didn’t recognize my own value. I pray that you do not devalue yourself this way. I hope that there is no expensive enough car to sway your decisions, and that no man would dare to treat you like a toy. If he does, I’m only a phone call away, and Daddy will happy to teach him what pain really feels like.

Now, if you do happen to fall in love with a man who sends up any of these red flags, step back. Give him time to get help. Give him time to heal. This may mean saying goodbye, and it may mean forever, and it will likely be painful, for both of you. Remember that anyone who loves you will want to make sure they are healthy enough to know they don’t want to hurt you. They will want to be healthy enough to  deserve you. There is no pain worse than losing yourself to another person. You are amazing. You are wonderful. You are valuable. The person who you should be with will know this. The person who is meant for you will not want to get in the way of your emotional health. That person will nourish your soul, and your body…not hurt it. And frankly, if your choice is between being alone and being abused, I’d rather see you with a black cat than a black eye.

So please, dear daughter (and all other women too), don’t fall in love with Christian Grey, or anyone like him. You are worth so much more than abuse.

With all my Love,

Mom

 

P.S. Click here to read more warning signs of abusive relationships

If you or someone you love is in an abusive relationship please get help. Click here for information on how.