Stop Blaming Girls

I recently came across a blog post in which a mother of four (three boys, one girl) addresses The Teenage Girl and begs them to stop being skanks. I think we need to stop blaming girls. (Update: It looks like she’s since taken the post down. Shame. But I saved some excerpts below!)

That’s not quite how she says it, but that’s clearly what she means. Actually, what she means is something more like, “Boys can’t control themselves, so you have to stop tempting them.” Which sounds like something a Republican congressman would say.

Apparently, this point of view is reasonable to many people, judging by all the “likes” and “shares” and positive comments her post is getting. People agree with her loving message to today’s young females.

I wish I agreed, since it’s a convenient way to get out of some difficult parenting.

I don’t know if her post counts as slut-shaming, partially because I don’t totally understand what slut-shaming is and partially because she isn’t taking the girls she’s addressing to task for being sluts. She’s taking them to task for posting online photos of themselves in states of near-undress… the implication of which is that such behavior leads to sluttiness and – worse! – causes good men like her sons to lose their integrity.

In her open letter, she pleads with The Teenage Girl – the post was apparently spurred on by one particular girl’s photos but is meant to address all teenage girls – to stop tempting her sons. Because, and I quote, “Did you know that once a male sees you in a state of undress, he can’t ever un-see it?” This is technically true, because unless you took a shitload of acid in the 60s or are frequently black-out drunk, it’s pretty much impossible to un-see anything. I know, because I have been trying like hell to un-see this woman’s post to no avail.

Excerpt: I know your family would not be thrilled at the thought of my teenage boys seeing you only in your towel. 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?

I don’t have a teenage daughter. I don’t have any daughter. But if I did have a daughter, I would agree with this woman that it’s not a good idea for her to post photos of herself naked or half-naked or three-quarters naked or fully naked on social media outlets. Because once the internet has them, everyone does. But I have an almost three-year-old son, and I will tell my son the same thing, once he’s old enough to post photos online (probably next week).

But I will also tell my son that just because he sees a picture of a naked or half-naked or three-quarters naked or fully naked girl or woman or boy or man online, and just because he can’t “un-see” such a picture, that doesn’t mean he has ownership over that person, or that he has the right to shame that person, or that he has any idea of who she really is based on a photo or that it’s okay for her to be nothing more than a sex object to him. Stop blaming girls. To borrow a phrase often used to justify this kind of sexism, she’s not “asking for it.”

Most importantly, it doesn’t mean that he suddenly sacrifices his own agency and self-control and morals and understanding of right and wrong and personal responsibility in the face of something that gets his hormones raging.

Excerpt: 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.

(Does the contradiction in this statement remind anyone else of the “grave danger” conundrum that sinks Colonel Jessup in A Few Good Men?)

Here’s the thing: It’s not up to women to protect men from themselves. It’s not their fault when a man assaults or humiliates them. And it’s certainly not The Teenage Girl’s responsibility to help teenage boys, or college guys, or middle-aged men, control their basest instincts.

netflix and chill, stop blaming girls, netflix, meme, brock turner, feminism, gender, equality, parenting, misogyny, girls, boys, rape culture, male privilege, dad and buried,sons, daughters, fatherhoodTeenagers can hardly be responsible for anything, and just because a young girl didn’t totally think through her decision to post a selfie that inadvertently titillated someone gave them impure thoughts doesn’t remove that someone’s responsibility to not be a lecherous asshole and treat that girl like a whore every time they see her.

No, it’s up to this woman, and her husband, and me, and my wife, and parents everywhere, to teach our children – our boys and our girls – to respect others and take responsibility for their own actions. Why did this woman feel the need to write an open letter to someone else’s children? Why didn’t she write one to her own sons, stressing the need to respect the opposite sex, no matter how much they might disapprove of their actions?

Excerpt: Will you trust me? There are boys out there waiting and hoping for women of character. Some young men are fighting the daily uphill battle to keep their minds pure, and their thoughts praiseworthy.

Newsflash, lady: there are girls out there waiting and hoping for men of character too. It sounds to me like you’re dropping the ball on raising some. Stop blaming girls and start fixing your sons.


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36 thoughts on “Stop Blaming Girls

    1. I dont have kids but spent the majority of my adult youth in the middle east. When I saw the Mom’s post she was one step away from imposing sharia. Thank you for this article

  1. It certainly seems like someone is trying to take some shortcuts here on the parenting front. I took a look at the full post and the nightly perusal of the kids’ social media friends kinda freaked me out.

    I just try to focus on teaching my kids some basic principles and pray they make good decisions because trying to police every interaction online and/or offline is a losing proposition. Plus only a weirdo would do that…

  2. Mike, this is great. It needed to be said and you addressed it perfectly. Great perspective and focus on integrity. Thanks for writing this, I will be sharing.

    -Simon (sweetandweak)

  3. I love this! I read that article earlier today and wasnt exactly fond out it, something in my gut telling me it was off. one-sided. and downright confusing as a new parent. You cant unlike/unfriend every person on facebook because of that one selfie, and I hope you raise your boy the way in which you stated. (which I believe you will) And you can’t tell your boys not to friend the girl…what would they sat I cannot be friends with you because of your photos on Facebook? And if anyone has been on the internet… the mom and the boys would know girls take pictures of themselves.. be it in a towel or bikini, its not to get noticed as a sexual image, its bc it was a cute picture. I’ve done it myself and I’ll be damned if I’m taking it down because someone was offended by it or thought it was skanky. I trot around public beaches in my bikini, anyone with a camera can take a picture…and anyone can see me. There are ‘skanks’ all over the internet, if her boys wanted to see them, they would avail.
    And does this mom check her boys phones, they have Facebook, I bet they have picture messaging too. And if that picture was something they wanted to see again all they would have to do is message someone to get it to their phone. And as naive as the girl was to post her selfie on Facebook, she’ll be naive enough to message it. Or a friend will message it over, bc if it’s on Facebook, its accessible to anyone.
    Grr to that article…A Message to the Lazy Mom, raise your boys with respect and without naiveté…it is a two sided world. Things can not be unseen nor unheard or in this case un-read. And to all ‘The internet is written in ink not pencil’

  4. This post is PURE PERFECTION. Thank you.

    It sounds an awful lot like she doesn’t trust her boys. Someone needs to teach this woman that no judge ever accused a box of matches of arson – regardless if how tempting it was, lying uncovered by that wood and all.

    My message to this woman: Let’s be clear here. Unless someone says “hey, rape me!”, she isn’t asking for it. Clear?

    Wow. Just wow.

  5. I thought it was interestingly hypocritical of that author to embellish her article with pictures of her boys without shirts in manly poses.

  6. I have a huge problem with one of her comments, saying “men with a strong moral compass, and men of integrity don’t linger over pictures of scantily clad high-school girls.”

    First of all, men and boys of high and low integrity will linger and stare at pictures of fully clothed women as well as scantily clad women, just because they are aroused. Looking at pictures does not lower your integrity or sway your moral compass.

    Second, as a woman, please do not attempt to crawl into the head of a boy or man and assume you know what is going on in there. I would not do that to woman and I would not generalize about women, so please don’t do that with men.

    This woman must think very poorly of boys and men in general. Apparently we are all cavemen who can quickly turn to a life of debauchery (big SAT word there) by thumbing through a Victoria Secrets catalog, or the case of my childhood, a JC Penny’s catalog.

  7. If you had a teenage girl you would no doubt hear the comments like “The doesn’t really like me, he just thinks I’m hot.” Or “why do those boys think I’m easy?” Or my favorite “I’m still a virgin and these girls keep calling me a slit.” If you scroll through their Instgram postings, you would understand exactly where those assumptions come from, and yet young girls don’t quite get it.

    1. Except those questions have been prevalent since our modern culture began, long before instagram. If you recall, it’s hard being a teenager in general and some will lash out at others just because they can. Instead of shaming your daughter for her selfies, how about you call the other kids on their bullying?

  8. Ugh. Seriously, this woman needs to understand that her children are not the saints that she thinks they are. Boy will be boys, and will do stupid things. Girls will do them too. She needs to worry about her kids, and stop stressing over other people’s kids. CTFD.

  9. If “men with a strong moral compass, and men of integrity don’t linger over pictures of scantily clad high-school girls,” then why is there an issue at all? Clearly her angels are such men, so I am sure they barely glanced at the photos.

  10. What about the implication that an immodest picture of a girl immediately overrides and cancels out any positive qualities a girl might have? She is teaching her boys that a woman’s appearance is her most important aspect.

    “Every day I pray for the women my boys will love. I hope they will be drawn to real beauties, the kind of women who will leave them better people in the end.”

    Perhaps it was a poor choice of words, but beauty, in our culture is generally used to describe only physical appearance. Considering that she’s assigning value to a girl based entirely upon superficial considerations, I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising that she thinks it a basis for her sons’ future partnership choices.

    Teaching her sons to objectify women is exactly what she’s doing. Teaching them that if a girl shows too much skin she’s not worthy to be interacted with; she’s less than them. From there it’s not a far step to well, I’m more important that she is, so my wants are more important, which is exactly what perpetuates rape.

    I don’t have daughters, but if I did, I would’t want them dating her boys. I have boys, and I’m teaching them that girls are absolutely their equal in every way; they need to be respectful; they need to value a girl’s personality more than her physical appearance. I’m teaching them about consent and rape and what constitutes both of those things; how to treat a woman, how to be a gentleman, how not to be a creep; that there’s no such thing as a slut and it’s an incredibly offensive slur. Because I want my boys to be part of the solution, to refute the ideas that this woman is putting forward, to stand up and defend girls when they hear them being objectified. I want them to grow up to be men I can be proud of.

  11. I have one son and one daughter.

    My husband sent me that lady’s article this morning and wrote, “Read this to our daughter.”

    I just sent him your article and wrote, “Read this to our son.”

    Major fist-bump to you! Thanks for the equally interesting perspective.

    Leigh (humor writer) over at http://www.leighbones.com

  12. Fabulous post. I saw the GivenBreath post you’re talking about yesterday, and thought it was awful. You’ve articulated — far more eloquently than I can — precisely why. Thanks for posting this!

  13. I read this article in its entirety and while reading it one thing that kept coming to mind is, “why are we constantly putting the responsibility on the girls/women?” Boys, if a girl dresses in a certain way or posts a picture of herself doing something “risque”, it doesn’t mean she wants your D, it doesn’t mean she wants anyone’s D! All it means is that she did something that she wanted to do and she did it without hurting anyone or anything. So maybe you popped some wood when looking at her post, is that her fault? Adolescent boys often get aroused by simply looking at a hole in a tree! So children, control yourselves and don’t do anything too stupid that you’re going to regret later. And if you do, just make sure you’re strong enough to move past it and understand that we all make mistakes and do really stupid shit. If you do something colossally stupid then be prepared to own up to it, accept responsibility and live with the consequences. Remember, sometimes we trip and fall in a room by ourselves, and sometimes we trip and fall in a crowded auditorium on the way to center stage. Either way, get up, swear if you have to, brush yourself off, and make your way to your destination.

    TL,DR: Make good choices, and if you don’t it’s not the end of the world. Hopefully…

  14. This article really hits the nail on the head. It’s not up to this mother to be speaking to any kids but her own. As the mother of a teenager daughter, I occasionally see things on her Facebook that I believe are a bit inappropriate. I bring it to her attention and tell her what I think and leave it to her what to do about it. So far she has removed everything that I brought to her attention. ALL teenagers need some guidance – but they should be getting it from their own parents.

  15. Great post. This lady is pretty delusional if she thinks her boys are such angels, kids WILL make mistakes, especially when “nice” boys like hers are pressing one of these “sluts” (as she calls them)to do things when all girls want is an honest guy, and they will get roped in. I think she is missing the point completely, unless she keeps her boys locked up in a cell she is in for a rude awakening the next few years. Thanks for seeing it from a true perspective.

  16. I read this letter and it disgusted me. It reminds me of when my sister was breast feeding her son at church and the pastors wife came and told her to cover up because a mother of a 19 year old boy didn’t want her son to see it, way to go Christians. I told her to put a blanket over the kids head. Yes, I don’t think girls should post pictures of themselves on Facebook or on the Internet that are provocative but that is something her parents should be handling, not someone else. I don’t know where she learned that it is ok to parent other people’s kids. News flash, it isn’t your daughter! I love your blog, even if I don’t agree with your politics 🙂

  17. Good post and great analysis of the shitty letter/post. I didn’t actually read her post, the excerpts are sufficient but I bet you she’s a hot piece of …. Damn, impure thoughts.

  18. Glad I wasn’t the only one who thought her post was…odd, at best. Very self-righteous. I agree that it’s not a good idea for young women to post questionable poses of themselves scantilly clad on the Internet, but to lay all the blame on them for the reaction of boys/men is off base. And her direction to the girls to “run” and change the photos in order to remain in the family’s good standing? Weird. Like they consider themselves a gift to all. I have boys and a girl and hope I’ve trained them to treat others fairly and respectfully in all aspects of life. I’m also realistic about the challenges young people face. I can only hope that they make good choices, but I can’t live every aspect of their lives for them. I bet her boys are doing (or will do) some crazy things behind her back with mom running the show like that at home. I’m sure she means well but some objectivity would probably serve her and hers well.

  19. Rape culture disguised as motherly concern. Hall’s post reinforces the idea that if a boy misbehaves, whether in thought or deed, it’s the girl’s fault. Just wondering: If a pedophile got turned on by Hall’s photo of her sons posing in their swimsuits at the beach, whose fault would that be, exactly?

    Thank you for your fair and sensible response!

  20. Love it! I am surrounded by husbands family that has the same beliefs that are on the same lines as this woman and it drives me nuts! We as parents have a responsibility to raise our boys and girls with character and it is extremely unfair and unjust to put that kind of burden on our girls!

  21. I have a daughter and two sons, so I am always looking at both sides of everything … which often leads to days of full blown “thinking-lunacy” …. but anyway, I completely agree with your post. I read the article on FB and definitely felt that it was odd. That whole attitude of “you did this to yourself” towards teenage girls continues to shock me. Thanks for sharing this – I think (in my opinion) it is the more appropriate perspective.

  22. As the parent of two teen girls, Mrs. Hall’s post DID resonate with me. The older of the two (my stepdaughter), has always been what I consider a bit too “free” with the selfies– I’m not talking about an innocent picture with friends on the beach in bathing suits, as a previous comment mentioned. I’m talking about the seemingly more intentional posts: in a towel just out of the shower, or with a bit-too-low shirt (top of her head cut off, but a full view of her chest), or even with just a picture of her feet poking out from under the covers, but the comment that she loves sleeping naked. . . As she is technically an “adult” I don’t have as much sway over how she uses her social media, and didn’t really know about these tendencies until she was almost 18 (she lived with her mother until she was almost 17). However, my youngest daughter still has a couple years at home. Yes, I peruse her selfies on social media regularly. Thankfully, she feels the same about her step-sister’s posts as I do– sometimes even complaining to me about what she feels is a particularly graphic post.
    I did share Mrs. Hall’s blog post. I was hoping my stepdaughter would see it. That she would read it. That she would realize that perhaps she is doing herself a disservice in posting things like this. Because she is NOT a skank. . . she IS a woman of moral compass and integrity. However, if there are some who’s only contact with her is on social media– they don’t know these things about her.

  23. Thank you for your post. This woman is way off. And it saddens me. As parents, our main focus should be our own children (boy or girl), teaching them to respect themselves and others. The best way to do that is BY EXAMPLE!
    It’s as if she’s letting her sons off the hook just because they have a penis. (I can’t help but think maybe her husband is a sexist and she has created this idea that its only because “sluts” are “sluts”)

  24. The original post was slut-shaming, rape-promoting rubbish masquerading as Christian values.

    I prefer your response, and as the mother of a son, he can be friends with young ladies displaying full nude selfies for all I mind, provided the reason he’s friends with them has more to do with shared interests and hobbies than her nakedness.

    It’s fine to look, but remember that’s someone’s sister, someone’s daughter, someone’s best friend. You treat her with the same respect you give our family. End of story.

  25. I’m the mom of three daughters and a son. Call me conservative, but I agree with the mom 110%.

    I don’t know that hot pants and a bikini top constitute an incite to rape…

    …but I tell my girls that they’re going to get the kind of attention the advertise for. If they want guys to pay attention to their tits and ass and be focused on getting nookie, put them on display. If they want guys to be focused on their intelligence and personality, cover up.

    I also tell my son that he can assess a female by what she advertises. If he wants to end up with cheap, easy sex from a cunt that’s apt to turn into a baby momma, then by all means, chase the hottie in the butt cheek shorts. Just don’t cry to me about the consequences when he’s paying child support for a kid he’s not allowed to see at 19. If he wants to end up with a relationship with an intelligent woman, pursue the girl who displays other wares– and keeps her personal parts personal. Look for kind words and common interests that appeal to the big head, not a titillating visual display that makes his penis go vroom, vroom.

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