Friday, April 24, 2009

It's not all the girls' fault!

I recently stumbled across a blog promoting "Moms for Modesty". I read her mission statement and was intrigued. I am constantly astounded at what modern mothers think is appropriate clothing for pre-teen girls. And it's not something new. Even ten years ago, I went to a brunch at a couple's house who were celebrating the completion of a kitchen remodeling. Several couples brought their children along. The attire of one pre-teen girl appalled my husband and me. To quote him in all his unstinting truthfulness: "That kid was dressed like a hooker."

I agree completely that the sexualization of children in the media and marketplace is unreasonable and unacceptable. Joan has blogged about this in the past, protesting immorality in behavior depicted in advertisements. However, I don't think this manifesto goes nearly far enough in one aspect: since when is it always the girls'/women's responsibility for the actions of boys/men?

Here is the mission statement:
Moms for Modesty Mission Statement
As a Mom for Modesty I believe in common-sense modesty for girls and young women.

1. I believe in refraining from sexualizing our girls and young women. I believe that it is unwise and unfair to taunt boys and young men by permitting my daughter(s) to dress in an immodest manner.

2. I believe that true beauty comes from within and I strive to teach my daughter(s) this truth.

3. I will loyally shop at retailers that provide girls' and young womens clothing that is modest, affordable and stylish.
Items 2 and 3 - no argument there. Especially item 3. Someone has to put their foot down and say - "These are CHILDREN." But the first item. . .ah, there's the rub. ". . .to taunt boys and young men. . ." That line raised my hackles in a big way. How far is it from this thought to "She asked for it"?

Girls and women should be able to walk down the street in nearly any attire they please without being construed as "loose", "available" or targets for attack. But, you say, what about your comment in the first paragraph? Exactly right. Should be able to. Unfortunately, people aren't there yet. And there's two ways to approach this problem. Teach girls that appearances are important in how people perceive you. And teach boys to keep their hands off and their opinions to themselves.

If you think that demeaning treatment of girls and women is expected because of their dress length; that they have to shrug off the comments and catcalls on the street due to a v-neck sweater; that, God forbid, if they are attacked or raped it is because they led their attackers on because their shorts were too short, you just started my blood boiling.

Here is my comment that I left on the Moms for Morality website.
Even though I am not a mother, I am dismayed with the sexualization of children, the salacious marketing aimed at them, and the appalling clothing choices for pre-teens. I agree with you fully. Given that, I am also waiting for the "Dads for Decency" movement. I fear that, as usual in the cases of morals, behavior and family issues, women are left to carry the load here. Where are the mission statements on teaching sons that there are better people to look up to than rappers and ball players with anger management issues? That how you treat other people, and especially women, is a prime indicator of your value to society and how you value yourself? That a clothing label or a set of special sneakers does not define you or your worth? Dads out there, is anybody listening?



Lindah said...

I absolutely concur with your statement. The male attitude of "the woman she made me do it" has been around for a long long time. It is simply male irresponsibility. That attitude is especially ugly when still espoused by my 98 yr old male relative. We must teach our children --both boys and girls-- to be responsible for their own attitudes and actions.

Joan said...

Amen. Amen. Amen.

Suzan said...

Great post...

Kathryn said...

Oh what a great post. Like many women (and I'm also not a mother myself) I loathe seeing young girls dressed up in an overly sexual way, and I don't feel particularly comfortable around what some young women wear for a night out in Cardiff - to me it looks plain slutty. But I would absolutely defend their right to wear what they liked and agree wholeheartedly it is a two sided problem. I do think there is a happy medium somewhere between going out in a burqa or wearing a low cut minidress with cleavage, fake tan and high heels.

The Calico Cat said...

I agree - & They should stop marketing to babies as well... (Yes, I am against purchasing items with licensed images - Disney, NASCAR, etc.)