Kimberley Hall has come under some fire recently for daring to inform girls who post pictures of themselves pouting and braless in their bedrooms on her sons’ Facebook wall that they WILL be blocked for those actions.
We have teenage sons, and so naturally there are quite a few pictures of you lovely ladies to wade through. Wow – you sure took a bunch of selfies in your skimpy pj’s this summer! Your bedrooms are so cute! Our eight-year-old daughter brought this to our attention, because with three older brothers who have rooms that smell like stinky cheese, she notices girly details like that.
I think the boys notice other things. For one, it appears that you are not wearing a bra.
I get it – you’re in your room, so you’re heading to bed, right? But then I can’t help but notice the red carpet pose, the extra-arched back, and the sultry pout. What’s up? None of these positions is one I naturally assume before sleep, this I know.
If you post a sexy selfie (we all know the kind), or an inappropriate YouTube video – even once – it’s curtains.
I know! What a slut-shaming killjoy, huh?
Kimberley is a Christian, so she frames the debate in terms of modesty, which makes me blanche a bit. And it makes me feel like we have a lot of work to do, if Kimberley is worried about the social impropriety of flashing some cleavage, which is inappropriate to be sure, but not even close to representing the real danger boys face from the sexy selfie girls.
We’ll get to those dangers in a bit, but first I want to look at two reactions from feminist media. The first is from Jezebel. They have two main critiques of what they deem “Biblical Sexism”.
The first is straight up idiotic, as we have come to expect from Jezebel.
Kimberley’s stance is hypocritical because she herself posted TOPLESS pictures of her sons! Flexing their MUSCLES! Carrying their little sister on big manly shoulders! Goofing off in a way totally designed provoke a sexual reaction!
They were at the beach, wearing normal bathing trunks and doing the normal things boys do at the beach, which everyone knows is EXACTLY THE SAME as arching your back with a pouty expression half-clad on your bed, right?
Is totally the same as this:
These are not images, as far as I know, that appeared on the Hall’s Facebook wall, but I googled “teenage girls sexy selfie pajamas” and there was no shortage of pictures to choose from, and from the mother’s description, they look about right.
It is completely ridiculous to equate boys goofing off at beach with their little sister with sexy selfies.
Jezebel’s second critique is that Christianity seems to take a poor view of girls acting slutty, and since sluts are awesome and girls will inevitably find meaning and fulfilment in sluthood, that’s unacceptable.
Instead of addressing a letter to unnamed teenage girls, Hall could’ve had a (shirt-optional) chat with her sons called “FYI (If you’ve been brainwashed by Biblical sexism).”
“Respect everyone regardless of their gender/sexuality/appearance,” she might’ve said. “Don’t worry! It’s okay if you have sexual feelings! You’re a sexual being! Girls are too. That doesn’t mean you can treat them like objects. You and you alone are responsible for your thoughts and actions. Get over this Madonna-whore complex while you still can.”
Same old, same old. Girls can act in any way they deem fit, and boys are the ones held responsible for that. Boys, you and you alone are responsible for your thoughts and actions. Girls, carry on being sexy.
Nothing to see here. No double standards at all. Move along.
It’s beyond hypocritical that the same website WILL hold girls responsible for the reactions they provoke in other when it comes to wearing racist t-shirts, but give girls a pass when it comes to provoking others by wearing skimpy t-shirts.
The claim that Confederate flags are just innocent symbols of “Southern heritage” is a common one, but the fact is that for many people, they represent slavery. Students and staff should be able to attend school without having a graphical reminder of the mass subjugation of human beings thrown in their faces, and if West thinks her daughter’s right to show Virginia pride trumps that, I don’t have a lot of sympathy for her position.
Provoke racist thoughts = no sympathy
Provoke sexual thoughts = fuck you boys, you’re responsible for your own reactions so deal with it
And here is how that contradictory message gets processed by teenage girls. Tuesday Cain is 14 years old and lives in Texas, too.
Almost every other picture on Facebook is some girl doing “duckface.” I do it in the picture for this post because someone told me to do it because it would be funny. It’s on my Facebook. So far it hasn’t hurt anyone.
I actually agree parents should censor things that might somehow be taboo, but what you are describing is not taboo.
I’m constantly hearing messages — like what you wrote — that parts of my body are not to be seen in public because it is not socially accepted. Women are expected to cover up more than men. People try to make us feel bad. That we are “asking for it” or that we have somehow lost our character because we took a picture with our lips pursed? That’s crazy and rude.
This poor little girl. Where are her parents?
Oh, wait. They’re helping her hold up provocative signs outside the Texas legislature and then boo-hooing their way across social media when cupcake gets the reaction she intended. Good job!
The pouty selfie she posted isn’t all that bad, but it exists on a continuum that gets bad very, very fast. She seems to have zero awareness what the half-open mouth and lowered gaze signals. The fact that lips signal sexual attraction seems to have by-passed her altogether. Instead, she succumbed to peer pressure because someone thought it would be funny.
Tuesday thinks 14 year olds signalling their sexuality with pouty shots posted on the Internet is not taboo, and shouldn’t be.
I’m guessing that is because Tuesday has no real awareness of the fact that she is using her face and her mouth and her expression to signal her sexuality, and she has no real comprehension of what that means. And obviously, no one willing to explain it to her.
She absolutely believes that she should be able to provoke any reaction she likes, face no consequences for that, and ultimately blame others for how they react.
Message received, Houston.
The bodies of young girls are not dangerous.
But you know what is? Teaching young women they should be ashamed of their bodies.
Here is where the story gets interesting. First of all, deploying your sexuality with some measure of accountability and some regard for those around you is not “shaming”, Tuesday. It’s basic civility. Manners. Dignity.
And secondly, the bodies of young girls most certainly ARE dangerous, although that is because your older sisters have created a culture and influenced the law to back that culture up, in which girls CAN visit real harm on boys.
The bodies of young girls are dangerous because they can be used to criminalize consensual sexual activity if the man is X years of age.
The bodies of young girls are dangerous because they can be used to enforce fatherhood on boys.
The bodies of young girls are dangerous because they can ingest any amount of intoxicants, participate in any activity and then still hold their male partners legally liable, no matter how enthusiastically consent was given at the time.
There is nothing inherently wrong with anyone’s sexuality, but the sexuality of women, and only women, has been harnessed to some very real consequences.
That only men face.
Only men are rapists.
Only men can be forced into parenthood.
Only men can be held legally responsible for sex while intoxicated.
Kimberley is right to ban sexy selfies from her sons’ social media. It’s the first step towards making them understand just how vulnerable they are. If Kimberley does nothing but ban the selfies, and never takes the conversation any further, she hasn’t achieved much in terms of keeping her sons safe.
It’s the opening salvo in a conversation that I suspect is about to get very intense in our culture.
The sooner, the better, if you ask me.
Lots of love,