The Questions We Should Be Asking After Reading What Mrs. Hall Had To Say

What would you say to Mrs. Hall?

Dear Mrs. Hall,
When I was seventeen years old my girlfriends and I were allowed to get a hotel room and followed our boys basketball team to Madison to cheer them on for a state tournament. After finishing checking in we went up to our room, realized it had a giant atrium window and promptly flashed the lobby. The looks on the faces of our classmate below was hilarious. I was a wild child at that age, yet I guarantee you my mom (who was very involved in my life and was a great parent) is going to be pissed when she reads this but I am 35 years old now so I’m hoping her statute of limitations has expired. At seventeen I didn’t need women like you shaming me. I needed women like you mentoring me, caring about me, not throwing me away. I needed women to wink at me at my youthful indiscretions, and then show me how to be a grown up. The only difference between me and the girls you shame is that when I was seventeen, there was no Instagram or facebook. At seventeen, I didn’t flash the lobby because of low self-esteem or to tempt boys or men who linger and lust after high school girls, I flashed the lobby because it was my world and everyone else was just a guest in it.

I wanted to tell you this for two reasons. Oh, I should mention, my friends and I also went skinny dipping. A lot. I wanted to tell you this for two reasons, the first being, I wanted to level the playing field for all of the girls who have to live their adolescence on social media and every mistake is forever captured. I went through those years free of that burden. Second, I wanted to tell you this because my girlfriends and I all grew up to marry nice guys, have cute kids, and balance successful careers. The other two girls who flashed the lobby with me? One is a high school teacher and the other is a director at a communications firm in Washington DC. And me? Well I run a global business and just finished writing a book about how to raise empowered girls. Ironic, no? We didn’t turn out okay because we eventually found nice boys like Hall boys to marry, we turned out okay because there was nothing wrong with us to begin with.

I simply wanted you to know that teenage girls who make mistakes can grow up to be women who do amazing things. I want to share my approach with you, and you may take it or leave it: I don’t believe in shaming people. I believe in teaching and in growth. You write a ton about Christ on your blog and while not a Christian I find many of your posts beautiful. I believe Christ’s approach was teaching, too. Teaching and growth. So I ask you to look into your heart where I can clearly see that you love your children, and look to the children of others with that same love. In love there is not room for shame.

Teach girls, mentor them, show them by your own example what kind of women they can be. And for goodness sake, allow them to make some mistakes. I am also concerned about teen girls, media, messages, and sexualization. The difference between you and I is that I would not kick them off my on-line island and consider them devalued, I would open my arms and say, “Come here, Baby, you and I need to chat.” And then we would talk about school, and goals, and sports or whatever her activities are, who she thinks is cute, and then I would cleverly segue way into the importance of having a personal brand, the value I see in her, and that because she is a teen and perhaps not thinking long range, I would gently explain to her that some of her online behavior doesn’t mesh with the personal brand I see her building in other areas of her life. And we would talk about what messages she might be sending that she might regret, if what she is doing is smart, and if what she is doing is safe. I would leave her with information she can chew on and implement, but most importantly, I would leave her knowing she has someone in her corner. Someone who sees her worth simply because she lives and breaths, no other qualifiers necessary.

Thank you for sparking such a fascinating national conversation. I have learned, and I hope you have too.
Best,
Melissa

 

Two days ago the internet exploded when a mom of four, Mrs. Hall, shared a letter on her blog to teenage girls who use social media in a way that she does not approve. In that time the woman has received support, mixed feelings from readers, and she has been flamed. Some people tried to give her the benefit of the doubt and saw that her words were coming from a place, the execution was just very off.  If you read a little bit into her blog and her bio, Kim Hall comes from a conservative religious background so it is possible that may be the source of her view point for the shaming of female sexuality and professing virtue and purity as the highest form of morality. Those are not values I hold, but the woman is allowed to have her faith and her opinions.

I felt it important to discuss this article with the facebook community, because it brings up so many good points for parents of tweens (and kids of all ages, really). Whether your kids are using social media or not, and whether you are talking to them about sex or not yet, this is a good read to get you thinking ahead. Mostly because it is so misguided.

I want to frame our conversation carefully, because I don’t want this to turn into us piling on the author of this post. I find myself agreeing and disagreeing with various parts of the post, and I think it came from a good place, it just didn’t get to where it was going. Namely, boys can control their urges and girls are not responsible for boy’s behavior. Second to this is, girls are allowed to express their sexuality, even if we feel it is in a way that may not be the best thought out demonstration.

You may agree or disagree with Mrs. Hall’s sentiments, but what I’d like you to think about while reading and then discuss are:

1. Can slut-shaming be a two-way street? Can boys be on the receiving end?

2. Is nudity/partial nudity the same as sexualized self-objectification? Is that the point Mrs. Hall is trying to make with the shirtless photos of her sons in a post that slut-shames girls? Or is she being simultaneously obtuse and preachy? Would it bother you if the Hall boys were posting shirtless pics that your daughter was exposed to?

3. Does one (or 80) sexy selfies ruin a girl, so that no “good man” will want her? Did you experiment with your sexuality in ways that you are grateful are not forever captured on social media?

4. Is Mrs. Hall doing the right thing by openly discussing sex with her children, and their use of social media?

5. How do you feel about the comment, “If you are friends with a Hall boy, you are friends with the Hall family”? Should tweens/teens be allowed some privacy online, or is it all an open book?

6. If you were the parent of one of these girls Mrs. Hall is talking about, how would you feel after reading this? Is there more to your daughter than one sexy facebook towel pose?

7. How does the line about “once a male sees you naked he can never unsee it” grab you? Are their bigger implications at play there on how we validate male sexuality/desire but invalidate female sexuality?

8. And finally, is Mrs. Hall onto something? Why are so many young girls and women posting sexy, duck lipped photos of themselves? Are boys doing the same thing and we aren’t paying attention because our culture loves to be hyper-vigilant over the sexuality of young girls?

As always, the PPBB facebook community delivered with a conversation thread that reached just over 10,600 people. The comments were thoughtful and productive. Not everyone agree with each other (those are the best conversations, yes?) but everyone did a great job of expressing concern for their children, concern for the self worth of girls they do not know, and concern at a macro level on what messages girls are getting from society and how this impacts their behavior and thinking. These sentiments were echoed in posts that popped up during the day in reply to Mrs. Hall, my three favorites will be linked at the end of this post.

Here are my favorite replies from PPBB community members to the questions I asked above:

Ashley Chenard: Nice to see this opened for discussion here. I’ve seen friends sharing this like crazy and while I can agree with parts of it, I also found it to be rather focused on blaming the female. And her ironic photo choice of her sons. Just didn’t settle entirely right with me. Sounded like the kind of moms I have dealt with in person that you just grit your teeth and can’t wait to be done with. I commend the effort, but could be better executed. I trust both my son and daughter to make decisions for themselves and that they’ll either embrace the morals I impart on them or they’ll mess up regardless because that is what humans do. It is my job to be there for them, but not to helicopter over them. The way this came across to me is that boys are animals but its the girls job to prevent them from being pigs. My son is not an animal, and its not my daughters job to keep your sons from being pigs.

Tanya Roe: I think that what bothers me the most here is that she focuses on what girls should be doing to snag a decent man. I would rather talk about having respect for our own bodies and characters, how focusing so much on what boys think of them needs to be changed. I want my daughters to grow up and find loving healthy relationships with people of integrity–with themselves first and then a partner if they so choose. I want my daughters posting pictures of all the cool EXPERIENCES they are having rather than focusing only on how their bodies look to boys/peers.

Amanda Elisabeth: What she is falling to address is WHY so many teenage girls feel the need to have pictures like that. Media and society teaches our girls that their only value is their sexuality, and then we condemn them for acting out the way our society wants? I don’t like this article. She is using the same logic people use for rape victims: I.e. her skirt was too short. Why not have a discussion with your son regarding the pressures his female peers feel from society and the possible reasons they post those pictures? Why not talk about an appropriate action your sons can take while interacting with their female friends instead of just blocking the young girls.

Elaine Fleschner: I certainly don’t want my daughter, once she’s old enough to think of such things, to post those sexy poses/photos online. But I think this article is obnoxious. How about instead of posting this blanket “We like you, but we won’t be your friend if you do blank”, she have a frank discussion with the specific girls she’s concerned about–if in fact they are family friends. I think it’s good that the family talk about sex and social media together, but a real nuanced understanding would also require them to note the social pressures girls are under, which do not face them as boys. Mrs. Hall comes across as sanctimonious and obnoxious.

Florence Vaccaro Michel: Thank you for posting these questions! Two fb friends have already posted this thing, and while I think it’s a good place to START a conversation about social media, it is far from the whole conversation. I think reducing a girl to a few poorly-thought-out instagram posts does that girl a disservice. I also think the idea put forth here reduces ALL girls to “sacred vessels”- their modesty becomes their biggest virtue (which naturally leads into their purity being the most important thing about them). It frames all girls as madonna/whore- either you post modest, wholesome pictures of yourself (and you’re a good girl) or you post duck face, arched back pictures in a towel (and you’re a bad girl). So now we’re teaching boys that all girls fall into one category or the other.

That being said, I think that every parent needs to help their kids manage social media in their own way. The fact that this mom is having open conversations with her boys about the items posted on social media is commendable. And she is, in some respects, encouraging her boys to see and recognize that girls are more than just their image (even if it’s done in a clumsy and somewhat reductive way).

Tanya Burns: “We hope to raise men with a strong moral compass, and men of integrity don’t linger over pictures of scantily clad high-school girls.” Then teach your boys not to do so. I am not arguing that I want my daughter posting pics like she speaks of. She is 12, shy, and not a selfie kind of gal. But when she is 16, and has all these years of media literacy under her belt, I’d like to hope she still has better things to do in life. In this post, Mrs. Hall speaks of no second chances, and puts the onus on girls not to show her boys things they should not linger over. I can promise you that out of all the kids mine knows on instagram, there are just as many 12 year old boys doing the “pull your shirt up and try to contort your little body to look like you have abs” pose as there are girls with duck face. But everyone does seem to focus on the girls. Why does a 12 year old boy think he needs to “look ripped”? Are hormones not flowing on both sides of the equation in puberty? As one friend pointed out, what if it’s not the “sexy, duck lipped girls” that a young man is checking out on instagram, but your son and his abs? Sadly, this is not just teenagers now. The “tweens” are in on it too. I’ve seen girls as young as 9 on youtube posing and pouting because they’ve seen others do it. Do we not come back full circle to the oversexualization of childhood we talk about every day?

Mandy McManus Emedi: I applaud the intent of this post, but I do not think it was fully thought-out. The group picture of the author’s boys at the beach just makes me sad. I don’t have any issue with kids in swimsuits if they’re running and jumping and playing at the beach…but the poses of the two older boys, in particular, seem meant (by them) to show off their bodies. Sadly, by using this photo, I think the article illustrates the double standard for boys versus girls. The author is talking about the responsible use of social media (among other, larger topics), but she doesn’t seem to realize she’s violating the same ideas she’s presenting.

Marisa Winegar: Where’s the empathy for the girls who are growing up in a culture that says they have to compete to be the hottest to have value? There’s no acknowledgment that girls don’t post sexy selfies in a vaccum. I don’t want my daughter doing that, but I can see why girls feel that way. It’s a societal problem, not a “bad girl” problem. And the solution has to acknowledge that girls are judged on their sex appeal everyday, perhaps even by the sons referenced in this post. Is she hot or not? That’s what FB was invented for! I don’t like it, but it’s not the girls who created this climate. They are the victims, not the perpetrators.

Lisa Mohl Kaplin: It’s very difficult for me to find the good in this article because it is so sanctimonious and judgmental. The idea of a family sitting down to view and judge the pictures of other children makes me sad and discouraged. Also, if we want our children to dress more appropriately, shaming them will never be the right answer. Helping them feel good about themselves so they don’t feel the need to get attention through their physical appearance will work far better. I also worry for the young girl in this family who has now observed her brothers and parents critiquing girls based on very limited information. Thank goodness we didn’t have the internet when I was a teen, I’m pretty sure Mrs. Hall wouldn’t have been too pleased with me.

Lucinda Robbins: While I think it’s important for girls to understand the image they are portraying on social media, I also think the idea that she would teach her boys that one suggestive selfie makes a girl unworthy to talk with is troublesome to me. (especially when her boys are posing half nude throughout the post). I think there’s an overemphasis on girls’ purity, which also bothers me. Girls need to be careful, but boys also need to recognize that both girls and boys are sexual being and both girls and boys are responsible for their thoughts and behavior. Girls do not bear responsibility for boys’ behavior, and this seems to be what she’s implying. I would think she would think better of her boys than to think they cannot be friends with or control themselves around a girl who (OMG!) posts pics of herself in her jammies.

Jennifer Wade Shewmaker: I read this yesterday and had so many of these same questions! My first thought is that these girls aren’t taking selfies in a vacuum, there is a culture of Sexualization that promotes it. They aren’t “bad or unsafe girls.” They’re girls who are feeling two things: 1.) their own developing sexual desires and feelings and 2.) the pressure to gain power through it.

Since I’m the mother of 3 daughters, I would tell Mrs. Hall that I am teaching my girls to think about how they dress and what they post in terms of the message they want to send to the world about themselves. I want them to focus on their own agency in that scenario. It is not their job to account for every sexual thought a boy may have. It is their job to make respectful, thoughtful choices about who they are and what they want to share about that with the world. And, their developing sexuality shouldn’t be any more threatening than a boys developing sexuality. These are natural, normal feelings and parents need to help kids learn how to process them in safe, healthy, respectful ways rather then through shaming them.

Kelsey’s N Reilleys Mommy: And so begins the subtle underpinnings of rape culture.

 

In support of what Mrs. Hall had to say:

Melissa Vaclavicek Murray: I don’t know. I didn’t see this as a “bad girl” issue, so much as a stupid girl issue. When my kids are older (both girls under the age of 6), I intend to point out potential red flags and encourage them to look for positive attributes when considering someone to date/marry. A person who posts multiple selfies a day and sexually suggestive pics gives off red flags. While those red flags don’t necessarily point to “slut” (the author never said that), they do point to lack of self-esteem, self-respect, and self-control. Not great attributes for a significant other. That’s not slut shaming. That’s just being smart. That’s a mother who cares about her sons imparting wisdom that they don’t have in their hormone-filled teenage bodies. She’s helping them look past the bedroom eyes and glossy duck lips, and find a person with substance. The author may have been clumsy in her execution (ridiculous picture to go with the article), but I think this is advice that most involved parents give to their kids.

Kathy Onufer Krapf: I didn’t take it negatively like many here did. I took it as a reminder that social media is public and that what is posted “can’t be unseen”. We are all leaving digital imprints that we don’t realize and we ALL need to be more accountable for ourselves and our children. I think she was coming from the right place, regardless of whether or not we agree with how she framed it.

Lisa Hollander Parente: I’m torn on this one. While I do agree that tweens and teens need to be more aware of what they are posting and putting into cyberspace, this feels a bit like slut shaming to me. The author posts pictures of her sons posing in what can be considered provocative ways and yet that is okay? Why because they are boys and don’t have boobs? And this part trouble me the most: ” 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?” Why not instead of chastising the girl she teaches the “Hall Boys” to respect a woman regardless of what she is or is not wearing? How about teaching those boys that a woman is not an object for them to gawk at? Like I said, there are parts of this that I do agree with, but I don’t think she’s thought it through completely.

 

Other blog posts I loved on this subject:

http://thelippylactator.wordpress.com/2013/09/04/an-fyi-to-my-daughters/

http://putdowntheurinalcake.com/2013/09/dear-mrs-hall-regarding-your-fyi-if-youre-a-teenage-girl/

http://rebeccahains.wordpress.com/2013/09/04/a-response-to-mrs-hall-teaching-our-boys-respect-and-self-control/

http://unchainedfaith.com/2013/09/04/fyi-if-youre-a-mom-of-teenage-boys/

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Excellent. Thanks for all the work you do! As the mother of three sons, I agree that it’s equally important for us to teach our sons to respect females as to mentor young women to develop a personal brand. :)

  2. 1. Yes, but it rarely happens. Girls are supposed to be the keepers of “purity” and virginity.

    2. Shirtless pics of boys and men do not bother me at all. Neither do pictures of women in bikinis. It’s not the same as self-objectification. It’s swimwear for crying out loud. The intent behind the picture does matter, however. If it’s a casual shot of a person at the beach, cool. If it’s a picture of a girl in her underwear trying to get sexual attention, I would encourage her to explore her motives.

    3. AYFKM? “Ruin” a girl so that no “good” man will want her? Any man who would judge a woman based on that (I refuse to call a woman a “girl”) is not a man that is worth her time.

    4. Absolutely. She’s just doing it poorly and contributing to rape culture.

    5. I think it depends on age. My 7-year-old’s friends that she spends time with outside of school are well known to our whole family. I think teenagers’ friends should be known to the whole family in the sense that I don’t necessarily want them going out and hanging out with strangers for my own piece of mind and safety. But some privacy, absolutely. I would never read their diary or anything privately communicated to someone. Digital privacy… not completely because that is public communication, and just to be able to guide them in making wise choices. But privacy of their email and FB messages I think would fall under “private” communication.

    6. Oh, there’s no way a daughter of mine would be allowed to be friends with her sons just so that they could be shamed, controlled, and treated like crap.

    7. Oh FFS. Repressive Puritan hypocrisy at its finest. Sheesh.

    8. I think girls do it because they have been taught that male attention and the male gaze are of the utmost importance. I think that they don’t fully realize that they are MORE than what men think of them, that they are MORE than what they look like. Do boys do it? Not really, unless they are also trying to attract the male gaze. It’s part and parcel of the objectification of women. Women have been taught that they must play the game in order to have worth. THAT is why we must counter these messages in just the way that you and others have done!

  3. I think the you can never recover from a mistake attitude explains a lot of teen suicides.. I personally have made my share of mistakes. I have female friends that made mistakes too. Everything from playing a game of strip poker while drunk to some that had drug habits that lead to prostitution. It is part of their past not part of future. I would never tell a girl no because of things she experienced and my exes would even tell you i am a great guy. However, I do shy away from those that never made a mistake because I want a woman that is confident and adventurous. You can’t be that if you play it so safe that you never have a mistake of a story to tell. Parents should know the kid will tell someone. Would you rather they told you or that creepy child molester around the corner just waiting to exploit your child? We all know if you read law enforcement records, that molester starts out as an older friend they trust. Try to do better than your parents not worse.

    • Amen Josiah! Teens already feel like everything they do is so HUGE…there is so much drama, so many ways to mess up, and infinite ways for their friends to shame them. And parents having a “one mistake only” policy is nuts. If a child starts to think this way, what happens when HE makes a huge mistake. Is he so afraid of his parents’ reaction that he doesn’t tell them and things get much worse? Or does he figure he’s a complete failure and then just start trying all of the behaviors he associates with failure?

  4. 8. There are no shortage of boys taking selifies of themselves and sharing them. There are plenty of shirtless, flexing, ab showing, boys in boxers pics out there. Instagram and Facebook are full of them. Not to mention the countless number of teens-male and female Snapchatting nudes or semi-nudes. Teen boys are doing the same. But that is just “boys being boys”. We vilify girls for taking part in the same ‘normal’ behavior. It is normal for children to act out, normal for children to feel themselves out and their sexuality and to share it with their peers. As a society we should stop holding up our boys as helpless and vilifying our girls. We need to see them all as human beings who deserve support, guidance and love.

  5. FYI, shared your blog today on our CA NOW Facebook page. As usual, you are spot on with your analysis. Since I can’t say it better myself, rather have you do it! I just added the idea that shaming is an act of dominance…Something as feminists we work very hard to call to everyone’s attention so that acts of dominance can be called out in all aspects of society. At CA NOW we are working hard to help to create a society based on a partnership model.

  6. One issue that doesn’t seem to be getting addressed is that, in some cases, this isn’t about boys at all, directly or indirectly. Many girls take this kind of photo for each other’s benefit, to show off or compete. There would be a lot less of this posturing if *girls* could value each other for other qualities than looks, in the way that we’re demanding that boys do. Boys can be critical of appearance, but often they’ve learned to become *more* so from us.

    • You are right, Melanie! I know a beautiful young high schooler, and she is always posting lovely photos of herself…but there are short shorts, flirtatious looks…things she doesn’t need to do at all because she would be a knockout in a sweatshirt and an old lady’s skirt! Why does she do this? Is it just exploration? I remember taking some pictures in “short” skirts when I was a teen – they wouldn’t be considered short now. And honestly, I did it because I enjoyed it and I thought I looked good in them. If there was facebook, I probably would have shared them too. To me it was innocent, but when I think about it now, it was also a sign of the culture, just as the behavior is now. TALKING about it is a great thing to do.

    • I think this is a great point. When I was in middle school and early high school, my friends and I had sleepovers all the time. Our favorite activity was makeovers. We would all bring a variety of clothes, accessories, and makeup to one girl’s house, and we would all make each other over. And then we took “modeling” pictures. In retrospect, some of the “modeling” we did probably looked like we were trying to be sexy. We weren’t! We were teenage girls getting dressed up for no reason and taking pictures with our disposable cameras for fun.

      Learning to be comfortable with your body while it changes drastically is HARD. Adolescence is HARD. Realizing that those choices you learned about hypothetically in the 5th grade are actually happening now/soon is HARD. When you’re stuck between girlhood and womanhood, sometimes you just want to do the grown-up version of playing dress up. In our digital age, sometimes that means sexy selfies end up online.

  7. I wrote a response on Facebook today…

    Empathy is one of the best qualities that we can teach our kids. Instead of blocking people who bother us, we can teach the kids to think of them as people by asking questions like, “Have you ever felt the urge to strike a pose like this or post a picture like this? Why do you think you felt that way? Why do you think this friend (male or female) posted this? What would be your most appropriate reaction to this behavior? What would be the most caring reaction? How can you avoid acting on lust or impulse when you see people doing this in person (because you can protect them all you want from facebook, but there will always be girls in bathing suits, cheerleading uniforms, wet clothes, etc, etc in the world around them)?

    This is also a great opportunity to teach a child some critical thinking: Outside of the occasional inappropriate photo, does this friend normally post things that are valuable to you, things that make your life better or help you understand people better? Are you able to be mature and to skim over inappropriate posts so that you can continue to benefit from her appropriate ones?

    I read something recently about maturity. Maturity is evident when a person understands how to adapt to different situations. A mature young man will know that it is not a good idea to sit salivating over a picture of someone who is only a friend, someone who has not expressed any interest in him as a boyfriend. A mature young man will develop self-control and will limit his sexual thoughts to those that are appropriate and healthy. If he does not learn how to do that, the result will be immaturity…thinking and doing things that are not best for him at his age or in a specific situation. Kids can’t learn to be mature unless we help them navigate challenging situations and teach them the appropriate way to adapt. In this case, the boys need to learn how to be healthy social networkers with online friends. Maturing into that role requires more than hitting the “block” link when someone does something inappropriate.

    We are talking about real people here, people that the family has friended because they know them in person. The boys will continue to run into these girls regularly and might see them doing “live” things that can be much more appealing or distracting in person than in a photo. It is our responsibility as parents to teach our kids how to honor and respect people in any situation and also how to control themselves in any situation. We might as well start young, because puberty comes awful early, and the media ensures our kids will see some of this behavior long before they hit puberty.

    Don’t protect a kid from the world. Teach him how to be his best self in any situation (and how to protect himself from HIS OWN impulsive actions and reactions that cause harm). Then he will go much farther in life.

    And – PS – I will teach my little girl that it doesn’t matter what other people are choosing to do or think. What matters is what she chooses, how she behaves and why. If she can learn to be AWARE of both what she’s doing and what might be behind it, then she can choose her actions well. If some boy responds in the wrong way, she will know that she can choose to keep her distance from that kind of person (or call him out on it!).

    After I wrote all of this, I had the most bizarre experience today. I put on a dress and actually used perfume because I was feeling good and wanted to have a brief “mommy break.” I went to a furniture store because we need a couch, and the salesman first complimented me on my dress. Then later he told me something like, “Your perfume smells wonderful…it’s definitely doing whatever you intended it to do.” WOW. You know what I intended my perfume to do??? MAKE MY DAY SMELL BETTER…not turn him on. LOL I’m happily married and don’t wear a dress to get attention. I told the story to my husband and asked his response, and he said, “Well your dress was a bit above your knees.” WHAT??? GEEZ? A girl can’t choose a simple dress (A-lined, no cleavage showing) and wear perfume without men assuming she’s doing it for them? It’s just like this issue we’re writing about. And you know what I think? If I want to wear a dress and perfume, I’ll do it (just like I’d tell my daughter to do). And if a guy reacts that way, I’ll either ignore him or call him out. Either way, I get to wear something I enjoy and be around only the people I choose to be around. And you know what? I bought furniture from the guy because I don’t judge him for being a product of this culture. So he appreciates a pretty girl who smells nice – fine. I’ll buy his furniture because I liked it and it was a good price, but you bet I won’t be flirting with him anytime soon. Why overreact? Be aware and then do what works for you. :)

  8. A Reply to Mrs. Hall and Mrs. Woolsey . . . from one of ‘Those Girls’
    http://lovingkindnessministries.blogspot.ca/2013/09/dear-mrs-hall-and-mrs-woolsey.html

  9. 8: To Quote Trinidad James “Shout out to them Freshman, On instagram Straight Flexin”. Boys participate in this just as much and frankly, for all the focus on the pressures of growing up a teenage female there is little thought put into what it is like growing up in a social networking culture as a teen male.

    Less than 200 female facebook friends? You’re weird, uncool, awkward at best. More than 500? gay.
    You didn’t fuck her on your first date at the carnival? Undoubtedly gay.
    What do you mean cumming in a girls face who’s 15 years old and barely knows what a blowjob is isn’t cool? Fuck you man I saw it on the internet and some guy with huge biceps and a bunch of naked chicks said it was.

    Get the picture yet?
    If you think the way we objectify women is the issue, perhaps you should look a step deeper and consider what we’re teaching our young boys. I for one was the kid staring up from the lobby who’d come knocking on the hotel room door after the game that night trying to charm my hands up your shirt. Nowadays, that wouldn’t even register as a decent lunch table story, and that frightens me.

  10. Upon reading Mrs. Hall’s post I felt a lot of angst and anger in regards to her extreme judgment Mrs. Hall was passing on these girls. The household she is raising sits around and judges other’s social media based solely on how they are portrayed in pictures, sometimes, only in a single photo (one chance ladies!).

    I can’t say I made good decisions when it came to my youth and my sexuality… I made mistakes, I paid for them. This wasn’t the result of sexy selfies, this was the result of being a teenager. Avoidance will not be the solution to this “epidemic”, communication and understanding will be. There’s nothing wrong with exploring your sexuality and being proud with the body you were blessed with. Instead of shunning these girls and disowning them, it is important to reiterate to them the importance of valuing yourself without all of the make up, the sexiness, and the scandalous clothing. The rest will come later.

    I’m sure the girl with the seductive pout and the bedroom shot will still live a long and happy life… but yes, she will make mistakes and she will suffer the consequences. She will also make excellent choices in her life and reap the rewards. She’s human. She will have a multitude of chances to make mistakes and shed a lot of tears about those mistakes. She may lose friends, boyfriends, and a little dignity along the way but she will pick herself up, dust herself off and learn. After all, there’s no way to build character and figure out your place in the world without a few slip ups along the way.

    There’s no need to slut-shame these girls for a few racy pictures, being a teenager is hard enough as it is, being judged by your peers is bad enough, let alone their crazy parents. The lines of communication need to be open for these girls struggling to find their identity and trying to make their mark on the world. Granted, sexy pictures with a sultry pout may not be the end game but there’s nothing wrong with exploring that avenue of sexuality.

    All teens are horny, that is a fact, we were all there, and we all know it. The fact that female-teenage sexuality is so taboo is appalling. When a teen boy kisses two girls in one week he is a glorified hero but when a teen girl does it she’s a slut and will be shamed for all eternity. If a teen boy posts pictures of him flexing his muscles he is congratulated whereas the girl trying to be sexy is simply tempting these poor Hall boys. The double standard between women’s and men’s sexuality needs to stop. I always thought the double standard would cease to exist in my adult years but again, we all make mistakes ?

    This is a message to all those girls…

    In order to live a happy life, you don’t need the approval of helicopter parents, vapid friends or the boys that will treat you poorly. The people that genuinely love you and care about you will approve of you no matter what mistakes you make (and no matter what sexy selfies you take).

    I honestly wish I had more lines of communication when I was growing up because I probably would have thought twice about some of my decisions and about the image I was creating for myself. I had great parents who were open to chat but a fear of the societal repercussions if I told anyone else what I was experiencing. All we can do now is change this stigma regarding young female sexuality to give these girls a fighting chance.

  11. 1. Can slut-shaming be a two-way street? Can boys be on the receiving end?

    It SHOULD be a two way street, but because of double standards it is not and I think this adds to the confusion and lack of confidence our girls experience while trying to make sense of the world they are growing into.

    2. Is nudity/partial nudity the same as sexualized self-objectification? Is that the point Mrs. Hall is trying to make with the shirtless photos of her sons in a post that slut-shames girls? Or is she being simultaneously obtuse and preachy? Would it bother you if the Hall boys were posting shirtless pics that your daughter was exposed to?

    Somewhere on the internet is a “funny” collection of photos of men posing the way women pose. The point being? Women are posing in a way that our society has informed them is sexy. And men? Men pose in the way our society has informed them will earn them a second approving look. To answer your question- the Hall boys with their muscle poses are akin to the female photos Mrs. Hall objected to in her post. I think both the boys and the girls are being playful in their poses- in that they are exploring their attractiveness- resulting in a lot of selfie photos that years from now they will all groan about, thinking “Oh man, did I really do that?” It’s a vulnerable time and I think Mrs. Hall’s somewhat passive-aggressive putdown of the girls is damaging instead of teaching and inspiring.

    3. Does one (or 80) sexy selfies ruin a girl, so that no “good man” will want her? Did you experiment with your sexuality in ways that you are grateful are not forever captured on social media?

    While this is the first generation with FB and Instagram, it is not the first generation exploring its sexuality and attractive quotient (AQ). The best people I know made lots of mistakes and learned from them. If a good man can’t “have me” because I was once a girl who posted photos his mother disapproved of, well I want to rethink my definition of what a good man is.

    4. Is Mrs. Hall doing the right thing by openly discussing sex with her children, and their use of social media?

    Openly discussing is wonderful. Both my kids were raised this way, too. But based on the experience of my own kids and their friends- the kids who are now struggling in their twenties are the kids whose parents were the strictest when they were teens. This concerns me for her and her family, but I’m not about to write an open letter to the Hall boys and shame them for having thoughts in their heads their mother disapproves of.

    5. How do you feel about the comment, “If you are friends with a Hall boy, you are friends with the Hall family”? Should tweens/teens be allowed some privacy online, or is it all an open book?

    I think this is on a sliding scale. Are we talking about 12-year-olds or 17-year-olds? And even within the same age group, each person is evolving/maturing differently. At some point I would advocate for privacy among friends the family KNOWS. Back in “the day” anyone contacting kids had to call the “house phone” and in this way the parents knew who was calling. And very likely Mom or Dad would answer the phone and visit a little with the caller before handing the phone to his teenager. In this way, the folks knew a bit about who was in their children’s lives. Did Mom/Dad listen to the conversation? At what point did Mom leave the room and let her son visit in private with his caller? So yes, I like that kids are not only friends with other kids but with their families also, but that is separate of the privacy issue.

    6. If you were the parent of one of these girls Mrs. Hall is talking about, how would you feel after reading this? Is there more to your daughter than one sexy facebook towel pose?

    I’d be upset with Mrs. Hall. Hey, if she knows my daughter- then come talk to my daughter and me personally and stop prejudging and generalizing about her. In reality, my daughter wasn’t a sexy facebook towel girl, but had she been, I know this would tell me she was working issues out about her worth and value. To have anyone shame her and talk down to her with “no second chance” talk would bring the mama bear fury out in me. Mrs. Hall’s talk hurts girls more than helps them. I wouldn’t talk that way to her sons. I hope she doesn’t talk to her daughter like she talked to the girls in her post, with passive-aggressive scorn and “no second chance” talk.

    7. How does the line about “once a male sees you naked he can never unsee it” grab you? Are their bigger implications at play there on how we validate male sexuality/desire but invalidate female sexuality?

    I think this is the biggest OUCH in her post. I live in the city where the now infamous Judge Baugh made his scathing remark about a 14-year-old rape victim as being both in control of her situation and also being older than her chronological age. Our community is still seething and trying to recover from such a wounding dismissive remark about a girl who later went on to kill herself. I know we don’t think of these things when we make our casual, sweeping remarks such as “he can never unsee it”…but we as a society we need to start having frank conversations that go past the remarks Mrs. Hall made. Mrs. Hall’s stopping at the point she wanted to make but not taking any responsibility to acknowledge the implications that extend past her point dismays me.

    Your question of “how we validate male sexuality/desire but invalidate female sexuality” hits at the very stress point our girls are experiencing. They are damned if they do and damned if they don’t (so to speak.) And if they display any behavior we find inappropriate, we need to take this as an opportunity to further understand the dynamics in their lives rather than to curtly knock them off the golden island.

    8. And finally, is Mrs. Hall onto something? Why are so many young girls and women posting sexy, duck lipped photos of themselves? Are boys doing the same thing and we aren’t paying attention because our culture loves to be hyper-vigilant over the sexuality of young girls?

    This is a great opportunity to truly explore the twisted dynamics our girls are exposed to- it’s damaging to scold and belittle/dismiss. Our girls grow up with a message their worth is in their physical “beauty.” We can tell them otherwise, but as long as our media, our culture, our society send messages that remind them how they look and how they appeal to the male gender is what makes them important we aren’t making any headway and these girls know it.

    And this bothers me a lot- Mrs. Hall’s post reminds the girls that if they want to end up in a good marriage, then they need to change their ways. Oh you see? Why is marriage to a good man the be-all/end-all factor? Why not a post that talks about leading a fulfilling life, one which is emotionally healthy and grounded with a balanced sense of self-worth? Let’s stop with the “You should do this to get a guy to like you” postings. Mrs. Hall is telling the girls other ways (modest ways, not slutty ways) to get a guy- but the point is that these girls shouldn’t be thinking their worth is based on getting a guy to begin with. Ok? Let’s start over, let’s start with that.

    9. I think as these talks continue, we need to hear what Mitch wrote about in the reply above mine, too. Our kids are growing up in such an instant-gratifying world, informed and hyper-driven by too much media, that yes- we need to figure out what is too much without sending harmful messages to everyone else’s kids.

  12. Mrs. Hall sounds like one of those mothers who criticizes other people’s children, but as far as she is concerned, her children can do no wrong. All that time and energy put into her patronizing letter is a complete waste when she could have just been focusing on her own children. Besides, why was she looking at these girls’ pictures anyway? She seems nosy and judgmental – future catty mother-in-law material.

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  1. [...] of her boys popping muscles and whatnot. I thought this blog had some good discussion questions: The Questions We Should Be Asking After Reading What Mrs. Hall Had To Say You may agree or disagree with Mrs. Hall?s sentiments, but what I?d like you to think about [...]

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