Maybe I'm No Lady but I Believe in Second Chances

Stories are the peanut butter and jelly in the sandwich of life, yes?

Really good ones are fresh and juicy and when you devour it, you don't care that it gets all over your face or hands or even in your hair a little bit. They are messy deliciousness and that's what living is really about.

There is one recent Facebook post making the rounds that seems to be the makings of a pretty good story. It's got a crusty outside, a totally ooey-goey middle and it's easy to cut in half. There are people who LOVE it and there are people who HATE it. Or rather, there are people who "like" it and share it and other people who won't "like" it but have reacted to it.

It's the story that Kim Hall originally posted on her Christian mom blog, "Givenbreath.com" and it was an open letter to all teenage girls. In the post, Kim condemns teenage girls for their social media content even though some of the content was not meant for her consumption, she admits. Kim, who is the Director of Woman's Ministry at All Saints PCA in Austin, Texas, originally hailed from my current hometown of Wheaton, Illinois; known for a certain stifling sense of conservativeness. For those reasons, and three more distinct reasons you are about to read, I felt obliged to write a retort to her original essay.

But here is my disclaimer: This is all my opinion. Further, it's my opinion that Kim is a good mom and maybe a great mom that loves her boys more than anything, like any good mom does.

My problem with Kim's story is that it's not fair. What a luxury it must be for a person to take to Facebook and condemn ALL others in such a public way. In the face of such omnipotence, I have broken down the essay into three buckets of considerations: 1. It's a global gender-inequity issue when the author blames women for the behavior of bad men 2. It's a culture issue where technology adoption hasn't caught up to user maturity and finally, 3. It's an issue of self-righteousness where forgiveness and support that was afforded to the author is not being paid forward to those who may need it now.

1. Global gender equity takes form in many grotesque ways.
As a mom of 3 ladies; aged 20, 18 and 3; I can speak only for myself. And in this case, my daughters. So shame on you, oh holy mother of scantily clad boys on the beach posing to show off their brute force strength and non-intellect, how dare you tell my daughters how to act around your weaker sexed offspring? In your plight to claim 'purity' as your motherly goal, you place blame and guilt on those outside influences that ultimately will betray you and yours. No one is pure. No one lives on an island. Everyone must go through their own learnings that include successes and failures. If you think a photo of a bra-less classmate or a more graphicly vulgar Hustler centerfold is going to destroy your baby and how he treats all women in the future, you need more than prayer, sweetheart. And don't even get me started on how awful it is to think that a woman is telling another woman that it's her civic responsibility to WEAR A BRA for the comfort of others. Jesus have mercy. Dolly Pardon the pun, but that's too much god-damned pressure. How is it my daughters' responsibility to help sway your boys actions in one direction or the next via the act of wearing a bra or not? What a ridiculous double standard you are, with all your fancy topless photos of hot male-on-male beach action.

Of course I don't want to see my daughters vamping it up like Kim Kardashian and a greased string of strategically placed pearls, but I do want them to figure out who they are on their own terms. I am my daughters mother and not my daughter. I do not want to live her life for her nor would she permit it. I have raised her to be strong and fearless yet I also recognize that no one is perfect nor pure. You seem to claim otherwise and that makes me feel sorry for your boys as they will surely face a cruel reality in no time at all. Why, just the fact that they have access to tumblr tells me they have seen plenty of porn already. The fact is, as moms, we do our best for those we love and then we set them free. It's fraught with disaster and we need all the support we can give each other. Raising kids to be their own person no matter the outside influences is the only way we can foster true integrity. But lt's face it; it's exhausting. It certainly takes a village. A very diverse village. And the more humans they are exposed to, the more humanity they will preach.

The more dangerous part of your prose is the way you place blame on an over-sexualized culture and how that is the fault of teenage girls on Facebook. That sickens me to my very core. And it's ignorant to think that the social sharing platform founded in 2004 is the root cause of impurities among men and inequity among the sexes. Why it was back in 1781 when Jeremy Bentham penned the Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation and then in 1949 Simone de Beauvoir wrote The Second Sex; both literary pieces that deal with the need for equal moral standards between men and women. More recently, S.E. Smith wrote a handy dandy article on xojane.com that you may want to share with your boys; 31 Things That Are Not An Invitation To Rape. Perhaps we should petition to add another rule and make it 32: Posting selfies on Facebook is not an invitation to rape. Because when I ready your FYI letter, it's almost like you are warning ladies out there that it would be their fault if your pure boys could not restrain themselves after seeing something sexy they could not unsee.

And I'm not the only one. Just read the eloquent words of Kyle David Greenberg, career counselor at Loyola Marymount University when he wrote this comment on your original blog post:
"Everyone seems to be caught up on the “double standards” issue…while I think there ARE double standards on display here, I’m worried that the truly alarming nature of this post is being ignored.
As a few have said, the behaviors and thoughts of your sons are theirs alone. Ultimately, the only person who has control over their behaviors and thoughts are them. I can understand removing stimuli when possible (such as blocking certain people), but I absolutely reject your appeal for every female your sons meet to cater themselves to your standards.
I reacted so strongly to this article not because of the double standard, but because of the repercussions of telling males that it is the female responsibility to make sure they don’t break their standards for sexual behaviors/thoughts. These repercussions are accessories in the rape-culture America so fully embraces: women are afraid of reporting sexual violence because they are constantly bombarded with messages, messages just like this essay, that tell them it is their fault if males “can’t control themselves”; men rampantly blame their victims.  
If you want to block girls’s social media pages, fine. That is your prerogative. But don’t you dare cast guilt and shame on your sons’ friends while concurrently teaching your sons that it’s easier to ignore than to know how to deal. As others have said, you can only block so many stimuli and for so long; your goal shouldn’t be to have sons who never have to deal with stimuli…your goal should be to have sons who are equipped to deal with any stimuli when they do come…because they will.
 
2. Facebook is only a channel -- not an end-all strategy for anything, especially parenting.
In publishing such a public message, you also show ignorance in understanding channels of communication that you COULD be using to parent, guide, influence and otherwise engage in your boys lives and the lives of others that, like I said, will have a far-reaching and ever-powerful influence on them (and you) as they (and you) become more independent and mature. The other issue behind Facebook privacy that you simply don't understand is that it's simply a channel for social connections. It's not a means to an end. If you think otherwise, perhaps you should study the real reason why Mark Zuckerberg founded the original Facemash.

Being a Facebook friend with one of your boys means being a Facebook friend to the family, really? What about your boys' right to privacy? Do you read their diaries or stop them from having wet dreams because you want to keep them pure? Come on now. Perhaps your entire family should delete your Facebook profiles? That would certainly keep those pretty boys pure. And while you are at it, petition your local grocery store to stop selling alcohol and posting those annoying posters of girls frolicking on beaches while drinking it. God knows that kind of influence could someday make your little men think that drinking beer is fun. And of course, television is awful with all that News Reporting of crimes and movies and commercials and other nonsense. I mean, have you seen the movie Spiderman with Kirsten Dunst and Tobey Maguire? One word; nipples! Imagine the horror! And then there are video games, chat rooms, Skype, Snapchat, Instragram, Vine, and about 900,000 other apps for the iPhone, not to mention email, co-ed classes at school, shopping malls, baseball games, soccer leagues, track practice, band (OMG those band kids; wink, wink) and then maybe the worst of all church youth groups and preacher kids that everyone knows is code for Molly parties, oral sex and binge drinking. Clearly I've gone too far. But certainly you see how over-generalizations and preconceived notions muddy the waters of reality. And the reality is; these kids will grow up by living life. With or without Facebook.



3. There should always be second chances.
This one is tough. It may be the toughest for me to tackle because it's so personal it's almost religious. Or rather, it should be. It's my belief that people -- even 'ladies' as Kim puts it -- deserve second chances in life, in love and in Facebook. If not, I don't want to be a lady. Because even ladies are human. And humans make mistakes; they have to in order to grow up and figure out things for themselves. And news flash, humans NEVER STOP MAKING MISTAKES.

For Kim to proclaim such a harsh judgement under the guise of good parenting makes a mockery of the very difficult act of parenting and that is just plain wrong. Don't hide behind oppressive small-mindedness -- OR YOUR RELIGION -- by claiming that you are protecting your children. You are not. You are hurting them and you are hurting other children and other parents along the way. By stating that there will be no second chances, you become a poster child for discrimination at best and a blasphemy of Christianity at worst. But, like I said, it's just my opinion but I believe everyone deserves a second chance in life, in love and in Facebok.


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