A post from a mommy blog by Kim Hall caught fire and made the rounds on social media a couple days ago. Apparently the message to teen girls about posting questionable photos and videos of themselves really hit home.
That [picture] doesn’t reflect who you are at all! We think you are lovely and interesting, and usually very smart. But, we had to cringe and wonder what you were trying to do? Who are you trying to reach? What are you trying to say?
. . . I know your family would not be thrilled at the thought of my teenage boys seeing you only in your towel. Did you know that once a male sees you in a state of undress, he can’t quickly un-see it? You don’t want our boys to only think of you in this sexual way, do you?
Neither do we. We’re all more than that.
The author then explained that she is raising her boys to have a strong moral compass, and encouraged teen girls to be women of character and not settle for anything less than a young man who will respect them.
Well, the next day, media-studies professor Rebecca Hains chimed in with her take. She felt that too much responsibility was placed on the girls and not enough on the boys.
I’m sure that [Hall's] sons’ female friends don’t want to be thought of only in a sexual way, considering that they are complex human beings with a range of feelings, ideas and interests. So why ask these questions? Doing so places the blame for her sons’ thoughts and desires squarely on the shoulders of the teenage girls they know – dodging the fact that boys are responsible for how they choose (yes, choose) to think of the girls in their lives.
…Instead, we must teach our sons compassion. Help them understand that girls’ self-sexualization is prompted by a toxic culture.
We must teach our sons to always respect girls. Help them see them girls as complex human beings, like themselves – never simply as sex objects.
Our boys MUST be taught these lessons…
Though I feel that Hains misconstrues Hall’s post as chastisement instead of encouragement, there are good lessons all around: Young women should be mindful of how they present themselves to the world, and young men should show respect, self-control, and understanding.