Dear Ms. Hall,
I read that you will remove my daughter from your sons’ online world if she posts something you find inappropriate, like herself in a towel. (Metaphorically since, you know, I have no clue who you are IRL.) I just wanted to take a moment to say great, because my daughter doesn’t need to have to deal with you in her life.
First, she already deals with enough judgment because she’s female, a gamer, a comic book fan, a geek, and blisteringly intelligent in ways that makes the very idea of “peers” a difficult topic. She already has a hard time because of the way the school system puts pressure on her to perform enough to make up for all the other kids that can’t or won’t. She is already burdened with the capability to broach and begin to understand adult topics when adults can’t even talk about these things without drawing blood. She picks up on and can explain subtext in books and movies that kids her age can’t even imagine.
Second, sex and sexuality is a completely normal part of human growth. We ended up having “the talk” with her because older boys were making lewd comments and gestures and suggestions to her. We want her sexuality to be IN HER HANDS. It is ultimately she who must be healthy, she who must grow into an adult which means adult relationships, which includes sex. She needed the tools to protect herself and her self esteem from people who sought to damage it. People like you.
Which brings me to point three: You are heavily participating in slut shaming, particularly with lines like “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?”
You see, the human body is also natural. I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but EVERYONE is sometimes naked, particularly when going to and from the shower. And it’s pretty common for girls to stay in a robe or towel when having a sleep over with other girls to prevent things like body glitter, fingernail polish, lotion and temporary tattoos from getting on the only pair of pjs you brought with you so you can actually wear them to bed.
And that same line brings me to my fifth point. If your boys are so completely unable to control their minds and will never, ever see a girl/woman as anything other than a naked body once they see them scantily clad then I NEVER, EVER want yours boys to even be an option for dating my daughter. If you are admitting that your boys will be incapable of treating my daughter like a decent human being if they ever have a sexual thought about her then the problem here is not my daughter or anything she does, it is with your sons, who should be capable of restraining their own sexual impulses and treating people decently. If they have somehow been raised to only be capable of seeing women as sexual objects the fault is sincerely not with my daughter, or any other female they may meet.
Finally, we have things like this “ If you want to stay friendly with the Hall men, you’ll have to keep your clothes on, and your posts decent. If you try to post a sexy selfie, or an inappropriate YouTube video – even once – you’ll be booted off our on-line island.”
Look, I support your right to remove people and things from your online life that you don’t agree with. But you can’t do that with the world. Other races don’t stop existing because you aren’t comfortable with them. violence doesn’t stop because you close your eyes. Abuse doesn’t stop because you don’t talk about it. Censoring and forcing your childrens’ heads in the sand in the name of “keeping them safe” rather than building a safe space for them come in the case of tragedy striking accomplishes nothing.
At some point your boys will discover that porn exists. Do you want them to learn about healthy sexuality from being able to talk to their parents, or from porn? Do you want them to be able to come to you if they’re struggling with depression or if they’re put in a position to help someone who is being abused? You do you want them to close their eyes, plug their ears and scream “I’m not listening!!”
Because there is one more reason I’ve worked hard to build a safe relationship when it comes to talking about sexuality with my daughter. Because some times it’s not about her. Sometimes it’s about her friend who confides in her that someone has been touching her. Sometime it might be about her friend who confesses that her boyfriend is hitting her. Sometimes it will be about the boy or girl who needs an ally and needs someone to say it’s okay that they are gay.
As she hits her teens she will become an intelligent advocate in ways adults simply cannot be, for the bullied, the abused, the scared and the confused. Simply put, she will become the person that people like your sons will confide in, tell things they cannot tell you out of fear of your judgement. She will be their first ally, the one who may very well prevent a Very Bad Choice by slipping them condoms, or the number to a suicide hotline, or holding their hand while they make a tearful police report.
That is the kind of kind, strong, beautiful, intelligent, good person I am raising. One without the time to spend on being shamed for having too much pout to her lips or not enough hem in her skirt.