Some of my dear and respected friends shared a post yesterday from a mother of several teenage boys who was counseling young girls to be careful about what images they post online or she would delete them from her sons’ accounts. While her intent was commendable in some ways, many agreed the execution was a bit off (there were images of her boys flexing in bathing suits within her own post). But the more I think about it today, I feel it speaks to an ongoing and unsettling slant in society to continue to hold girls responsible for all teens’ “inappropriate” behaviors.
Since Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke’s performance at the VMAs, social media has been bubbling with discussions of young women and “appropriate” attire or behaviors. While I personally found the act distasteful and frankly not entertaining, I’ve been disappointed at the direction of most of the discourse. The focus has been entirely on Miley Cyrus and her choices, with little discussion of Robin Thicke’s participation or that of the network executives who clearly approved (and likely engineered) the performance.
Thankfully, some have recognized the discrepancy. And I’m even more relieved to see men speaking out on this issue. First Eric Clapp spoke out about how we need to be talking to our sons about this incident, not just our daughters. And this morning I was thrilled to see another man, Nate Pyle, share how he intends to discuss with his son how to view women. He is eloquent and direct:
“It is a woman’s responsibility to dress herself in the morning. It is your responsibility to look at her like a human being regardless of what she is wearing.”
THIS is what I wish that mother was teaching her sons. That regardless of how a women dresses, regardless of whether she posts that picture to her Facebook profile, she is a PERSON worthy of respect as a human being. All young women explore their sexuality. All young women are going to make mistakes. Certainly we should try to educate our daughters to bypass the pitfalls of social media. Certainly we need to coach our daughters on modesty and respecting themselves. But with equal certainty we need to teach our sons that the value of a woman has nothing to do with the clothes she chooses to wear. And that they don’t need to cut out of their lives any woman who wears something revealing for fear they can’t control themselves.
NOTE: Please do read the posts by these wonderful men, it is so important.