|Photo by The Alieness GiselaGiardino via Flickr|
Two things set me off again this week: Bob Marley and some woman with a blog.
You remember when I wrote "That's what girls are for...?" Mark Barwell Tweeted something silly like, "if all your friends turned into chicks, would you try to get some?" I handed it to him because the idea that once your best friend turned into a girl, the first thing you'd think about was sex, was repulsive. But it was repulsive not just because it suggested that that's what girls are for; it also suggested that men look at women primarily as vessels for sex.
That might be true. Biologically speaking, maybe it is. But does that mean that men are incapable of looking at women as equals, as intelligent beings, as people of value? To assume so is degrading to men.
Someone shared this Bob Marley quote on Facebook:
If she's amazing, she won't be easy. If she's easy, she won't be amazing. If she's worth it, you won't give up. If you give up, you're not worthy.
I take his use of "easy" in the old-fashioned way: easy girls have sex when they want to, even if it's on the first date. Easy, because presumably what the guys are looking for is sex and it's easier to get from some girls than others. The girls who are "easy" are whores and sluts. The girls who are not are virtuous and good. The girls who make you work for it do so for various reasons. Most likely their mothers told them if they are easy, they won't get married, because men want sluts for sex and "good girls" for wives.
I'm no scientist, but if you look at it from an evolutionary standpoint, it makes sense. Men spread their seed far and wide. But to be sure they are furthering their own gene pool, they want a mate who is faithful. Girls who like sex won't be faithful, according to the misguided logic of our culture. Note that it doesn't matter if the male is faithful, and for him it's better that he isn't. But his name, his all-important legit progeny, had better be his and only his. I can't believe I'm going to say this, but this idea is rooted in the need for control by the patriarchy.
So, Mr. Marley is telling us that easy girls aren't amazing. Good girls are. And if you give up on trying to get sex from the good ones, you're not worthy of them.
Then along came Kim Hall and her blog Given Breath. In a recent post titled FYI (if you’re a teenage girl), she chastises young girls for posting pictures of themselves on Facebook while not wearing a bra, in their bedrooms, in provocative poses.
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?
To maintain her sons' integrity, those girls will be blocked from their Facebook accounts, because "men of integrity don’t linger over pictures of scantily clad high-school girls."
That's right. See her sons there in that picture (unless she removes it, rethinking her hypocrisy*)? See how they're scantily clad in their swimming suits, posing like strong, virile men? That's okay. Because they're men. They can revel in the assets of their bodies, in the beauty of their muscles, their curves, their manliness.
But girls can't enjoy their bodies--unless they do it like boys...say, playing softball or building muscle. But put on a shirt without a bra underneath and you're too enticing. Oh, dear, how shall we protect our young men?
Hall will teach her boys integrity, not by explaining to them that women are sexual beings just like they are, that sex can be a minefield of emotion and excitement and consequence, and ought to be approached with maturity. No, she'll teach them integrity by telling them that girls who do that should be unfriended. Because they're bad.
The Hall boys, we must assume, don't have enough integrity to refrain from lingering on those photos and so their mother will help them out by blocking any girl who dares to express herself thusly.
Look, I get it. Girls need to respect their bodies and their sexuality (ahem--so do boys). By that I mean they need to learn about it, be guided by maturity and sense. But they don't need to cover up (can you say Burka?), or act as if they are not sexual beings just because the boys around them can't control their own impulses.
You remember MileyGate, right? Miley Cyrus strutted awkwardly onstage at the VMA's trying to be what society and the industry expect from mature women, and everybody blew their gaskets. Not because she looked stupid and unnatural, not because that bear teddy didn't fit right, no--because she was behaving too sexually.
Sure she was. It was pretty silly. But if someone better at it did it, fewer people would have snorted Diet Coke through their noses.
But nobody (well, one or two) bothered to say anything about Robin Thicke and his role as the man who received the twerk. Because it's okay for men to get sex, as much as they want, whenever they want, from good girls and bad. It's just not okay for girls to give it!
Is that a paradox or something?
We need to decide as a culture whether we like sex or not. If you want us all to be chaste, then we must all be chaste. Boys and men who have sex like rabbits should be denigrated as much as women and girls who do. If we are all going to accept that we're sexual beings and like it, neither boys and men nor girls and women should be labeled "bad" for doing it...a lot.
It's got to be one way or another. You can't laud men for loving sex and chastise the women who do. It's not right. And it's just plain stupid. And it's damaging our girls.
So here's what I would say to my daughter:
Your body is beautiful. And you can share it if you want. But remember that it's yours to give and yours alone. Don't do it for men, for their attention, or for their pleasure. Do it because it feels right for you.
And remember that society is sick and you won't be rewarded for loving yourself.
*Hall did remove the pictures of her scantily-clad teen boys from that blog post.
Update: There have been a few really wonderful responses to Hall's blog that I'd like to share here: