FYI: If You Are A Teenage Boy
If you are on Facebook, you may have read this letter by a concerned mother of two teenage boys (and an 8 year old girl) to their young teenage girl-friends. It concerns the provocative proliferation of ‘selfies’ and the sexual poses teenage girls often post on their social networking sites. It pleads with girls not to do such things, as to do so will cause all teenage boys viewing such photos to only see them as sexual objects, and will forever destroy them in the male gaze.
I’m writing to you to say no. This is not fair and not right. You are surrounded by sexual imagery, and you are at the time of your life when your sexuality is awakening. You may be gay, you may be straight, you may be something in between, or something else entirely. You may be transgender and struggling with that (or not) and identify with these teenage girls.
Whatever you are, you are your own person, and so are these girls. You are ALL pressurised by what you see around you, what your peers are doing, and by the expectations that are being heaped upon you.
These girls are simply seeking approval in the way they have been taught to seek approval; by exploiting themselves to gain confidence. Some will be confident, some will be shy, some will be in pain and some will not give a fuck (literally and figuratively). What they all have in common is that they have the right to do with their own body whatever they wish to do.
Teenage boys, I believe in you. I believe it is in your power to understand that a brief image posted online is not an entire summary of a girl’s character. I believe you can see through the bullshit you are fed, if you try, and if your eyes and minds are opened. I believe that you can respect women, and girls, whether you are related to them, friends with them, or strangers to them.
I know you do judge girls who post these photos. But this is not a reflection on the girls, this is about you. You are the one making assumptions, disrespecting girls, not acknowledging the sexism that means girls are judged on their looks yet are judged for seeking approval of their looks. They are reflecting what they see around them, in FHM, Loaded, Nuts and in the myriad women’s and teenagers magazines which are obsessed with image, sex and relationships.
Don’t buy into the bullshit. I know you can. I know you can be better than what society expects you to be. I know you know girls are not only their physical presentation. I know you know girls are different, each and every one, unique and beautiful in very different ways, inside as well as out.
I know you are strong, or that you want to be.
I know you know only you are responsible for your own actions.
I know you know that your judgements are based only on what you know, at that particular point in time.
I know you know that you are changing and will continue changing for a few years to come.
I know you are under immense pressure to fit an ideal.
But I also know you are the ones with the power. Your futures, in our society, are more assured than those of the girls who are being judged.
I know you want the best future you can have for yourselves.
I know you are more than your basest instincts. I know you can control yourselves, and that there is nothing, NOTHING that a girl can do that will ‘make’ you lose control.
I know you understand all this, deep down. More than that, I have respect for you and belief that you can be the best you want to be.
So, teenage boys, when you see girls posing provocatively and posting all manner of selfies on social networks, I know you are not going to be taken in by the bullshit that tells you that those girls do not deserve respect and are ‘sluts’ or ‘whores’ or ‘asking for it’. I know you will not judge in that way.
I know this, because I believe in you, and I believe you are not what you are told to be.
Yours in hope and respect,
From → Ideology