Are Boys’ in Swim Trunks The Same as Pouting Girls in PJs on a Bed?

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The furor over Mrs. Hall’s open letter to teenage girls touched a raw nerve, and apparently her article is being followed up by many angry replies.

An otherwise small-time blogger thought it would be a simple exercise to express her negative opinion about online photos her sons had access to via Social Media sites. The photos were of girls, roughly the same age her teenage sons, posing in their bedrooms in pajamas and pouting  in-an-all-too-common catwalk stance.

She went on to declare that since the family shares what they see on social media feeds, these “friends” would be “un-friended” and “blocked” for their immodest, provocative, pictures. She went on to explain that once a male sees a provocative image they can’t “un see it.”

But this well-intended post sparked a heated debate that turned into an aggressive, and at times, vile attack on this mother of three sons and a daughter.

To some extent, the visceral responses to the FYI (if you are a teenage girl) post were completely contrary to the beliefs and values of the Hall family — a simple message of decency and decorum was interpreted as misogyny and rape!

One irate parent posted a comment in an article in support of Mrs. Hall, that equated un-friending someone on Facebook was as insulting and hurtful as stoning someone!

To say the discussions about a mother’s opinion about how young girls today are less concerned with modesty got out of hand is putting it mildly. I think many are planly missing the point, and others took Halls’ post downright personally.

The ‘slut shaming’ and liberal views that have taken over the original conversation, overshadowed the author’s intended message to young girls. It was simply a call to attention for girls to not post ‘selfies’ in pajamas or towels in their bedrooms on social media sites because if you did/do, “you will be blocked”  and not allowed to be friends with her kids.

At least this is what I got from reading Mrs. Hall’s brave words.

Now, if you are a reader of this blog, you likely already know my stance on the issue: I agree with Mrs. Hall. Wholeheartedly.

No surprise there, right? That’s why you’re reading this, I hope. I am also going to give you a fair warning: If you don’t agree with me, that’s fine, but do not post a rude or otherwise un-civil comment here because I will delete it. But that’s not going to happen, of course.

Why do I support Hall’s message? Dare I say she expressed what many parents have not had the courage to say to ‘those’ kids and parents about their parenting style (free-range or other wise), but think about it.  After all, we are not supposed to tell other parents how to parent.

I found Mrs. Hall’s post especially appropriate for our girls who over-share in these Insta-every-moment-of-your-day times we live in. Sadly, a number of people decided to focus on a photo Hall used of her boys at the beach wearing  swim trunks, instead of the real message to young girls: be modest.

Why are people picking on the photo of Hall’s boys in swim trunks at the beach, and trying to place equal culpability on the “scantly dressed” issue with girls?

IMHO it is preposterous to equate normal and appropriate beach attire for males to a PJ-and-braless photo of a young girl in her bedroom. I just don’t think these two images are on the same level. And the two photos certainly don’t evoke the same sexual reactions from online observers — no matter what some may say about the boys’ ‘innocent’ muscle-flexing photo used in the post.

Muscle-flexing boys/men can be seen anywhere from the gym to the garage. On the other hand, braless teenage girls wearing pajamas in their bedrooms are not a common sight anywhere but in the privacy of their own homes — or so it used to be until the onset of smart phones and social media sites in the hands of immature adolescents with less-than-informed parents. (This last statement is a tricky one given some of the ultra liberal responses from some parents who support their daughter’s pride in their bodies and exposing them in bedroom clothes to the cyberwold.)

In spite of the range of opinions regarding what is morally acceptable to post online, let’s get to the core of Mrs. Hall’s blog post.

First, leaving aside Mrs. Hall’s background and her job, stripping (pun!) away all feminist angles that may be flying through your brain after READING her post (not simply looking at the photos), and trying to also not let ‘freedom of expression’ (as in “a girl has a right to wear whatever she damn well pleases and not be ‘judged'”) interfere with the post, what are you left with?

Is it the gnawing feeling that you hope your own children aren’t posting INAPPROPRIATE photos of themselves on multiple social media sites (Instrgram has that wonderful capability of posting to Facebook, Twitter, etc. with a single click) in their PJs or a towel, prostrate on a bed, braless and purposely protruding their touch and pouting their lips a la Victoria Secret?

I sure hope it did. That’s what I came away with even though my own children are legal adults (just barely though) and can do what ever their best judgment tells them to do.

However, this is where the knot in my stomach starts to relax a bit because while our kids were under our roof, they lived under our (very tough) rules. That included us trying to be vigilant about what they posted online about themselves and what kind of friends they had.

Yes, more than a few times we demanded that some things be deleted from the Internet. We explained the potentially harmful consequences of the Internet’s public domain. But the stern consequences they faced from US, the parents, when any of our rules were violated were the more valuable lesson we imparted on our naïve children while they were young and under our protection.

And yes, some of those harsh lessons included de-friending or blocking people, both online and on land (similar to what Mrs. Hall claims they do in their home) when our parenting styles clashed with other parents — a lesson our grown kids are now implementing in their young adult lives (away from home) choosing their own circle of friends again.

Discerning what type of friends you ‘hang out with’ was one of the most difficult lessons we had to teach our kids. It was heartbreaking at times, having to pull away from friends and their families  as we witnessed pre-teens and minors going down a road we didn’t agree with, and they did it WITH support from their parents: breaking curfew, driving without a license, breaking the driving permit rules, underage drinking, drugs, sex, etc. Breaking rules was unacceptable in our home.

These illegal activities (“part of growing up” as some will excuse these behaviors) are the gateway to a rather unsavory present for a number of these kids who were un-friended. What do I mean by unsavory present? Well, some kids are in rehab, others didn’t make it to college, and some are still enabled by their parents. (Spare me the pity party, please)

Can we claim success with our parenting style thus far? Though parenting is a never-ending job (just ask those who have 30-40-50 somethings still living at home), I would venture to say YES! Especially if parenting success is measured by the independent, socially adjusted, productive, young adults we sent out into the world to mingle with yours.

Of course, we had our own stumbling blocks in the process of parenting in the age of Twitter. As a blogger, I was the one chastised quite a few times for oversharing my kids’ photos online … by my own kids! We had long and heated conversations about what was appropriate and what wasn’t acceptable to post.  And you know what? We still have to remind each other from time to time that certain photos shouldn’t be up for public scrutiny.

Anyway, if more parents were concerned about their kids’ online (an on land) behavior, perhaps these conversations wouldn’t be necessary.

Admittedly, living in the Valle household was tough, but not nearly as tough as the real world out there.

So thank you Mrs. Hall, for having the courage to un-friend, un-follow, and block those ‘bad influences’ from your home.

Chalking up encounters with the law, school administrators, or any other authority as just a ‘lesson’ kids need to learn was not the case here because there wasn’t a tougher police than the one in our own home.

Differences in parenting styles will always exist. Heck, even in our extended families we don’t see eye-to-eye on many issues; sisters, brothers, perhaps your own parents, used tactics or techniques you disagree with now that you are a parent yourself.

Here’s another question we can try to answer: What will Mrs. Hall write about next?

I suggest she write about the drunk, red-cup-flashing, underage kids posting their alcohol exploits on FB and Instagram.

That debate would be very heated, too, I think. Why? Because I’ve heard it before, “I would rather have my kids drinking in my own home (at age 16) so they don’t make fools of themselves in college.”

Good luck with that.

How do you ‘teach’ your kids to not hang out with the wrong crowd? By today’s standards, that includes online as well as on-land behavior.

Comments

  1. Stacey Ross says:

    Thank you for putting yourself out there on the issue. I do think that parents should be and need to be very cautious about which of their kids’ images go online. Boys and men flexing, even, can be interpreted as suggestive, so I can see somewhat how it might invite interested girls who want to play along and test the waters. It just might get their hormones going, as girls don’t need to see foam fingers and pelvic moves to get the ball rolling… That said, I am VERY prudent when it comes to kids photos being shared online and IDed/tagged, etc. – especially provocative photos.

    • Suzette Valle says:

      If we had more mothers as prudent as you, Stacey, would this have become a ‘problem’? I don’t think so. Thanks for being a present parent!! We need more of you too!

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