A few days ago, I stumbled across Mrs. Hall’s FYI letter to young girls. I don’t even remember where I saw it first. Facebook, maybe. I clicked on it. I read it. I re-read it. At first, truthfully, I thought it was a joke. Then I saw the comments on her blog and all the re-posts and re-tweets and realized she was in fact quite serious.
As the mother to two boys, I was….confused by her post. As a woman and a feminist (gasp!), I was enraged. I could not believe that this woman, who also parents a daughter, had these thoughts about young girls and their sexual identities (on-line or otherwise). That this mother believes that the best way to teach her young sons how to be men is to shame women for being sexual creatures. In the process, she is denying that her own children are also sexual beings and abdicates them from any responsibility for whatever decisions they have/will make. I really thought we were past the whole “women are temptresses out to snag a man” and “men are visual beings who cannot be trusted because they think with their penises” stuff.
I am very very new to the “blogging” world. But as I am writing and tweeting more, I am also finding more and more blogs, especially by other sassy mommas that I really enjoy and find quite hilarious. Several of those bloggers posted responses to Mrs. Hall. (Google it. There are too many to list here.) I read along and thought to myself, “right on!” I even wanted to post a snarky one myself with the same condescendingly self-righteous tone that Mrs. Hall invoked in her original post.
Something stopped me though and I am glad I waited. Because although I think Mrs. Hall is wrong in both her message and her tone, me being snarky back accomplishes very little, other than to make me feel better. And the truth is, I don’t feel better. I am sad. I am deeply disturbed by the message that her post sends to both boys and girls.
For days now I have been wondering why we think so little of our own children? Why do we think so little of ourselves and our abilities to raise them well? When did we stop raising our children to handle the tough stuff that life will teach them? The tough stuff that we are morally, socially, ethically obligated to teach and show them as their parents? Children come out of the womb innocent. They are pure. They are raised to be jerks or bigots or brats or alpha males. Behavior is learned. Maybe that is what is so scary to so many of us parents. We are so afraid of doing it wrong that instead, we do nothing and throw up our hands. Or, as Mrs. Hall did, blame the pretty girls for tempting her innocent, pure-of-heart-and-mind-boys.
What I read in her post is fear and mistrust. (My original comments about that are still posted on my facebook timeline.) She is afraid of the world that her children will enter. She does not trust herself. She does not trust her children to think for themselves, to remember the values that she has taught them. Clearly she thinks that boys cannot be trusted to their own devices and that pretty young girls are only out to corrupt them along the way. Why are we so afraid? And why do we trust our children so little?
In the process of formulating my own response to her post, I came across this post from Kristen Howerton. She blogs at http://www.rageagainstheminivan.com. Check it out. Really, really good stuff.
Her post really says it all and says it very well. “But when it comes to our sons we need to focus on teaching our boys to manage their own thoughts and to extend respect to every woman, regardless of how she is dressed.”
We need to trust ourselves as parents. We need to teach our children. And then, we need to trust that they have learned well.