When you live with depression and anxiety there’s more to life than that!
I have a confession to make… I’m… well, I’m… a bit of a prude!
I know this might strike you as odd, but the number of years that have passed since I dressed at my most provocative, has provided me with a most disturbing contradiction between the way I was and the way I am.
It’s true that in my ‘middle’ age my body parts don’t appear to be as ‘sexy’ as they were in ‘those’ days. And my grief as I pass from youthful, firm looking skin (insert beauty product ad here) to the effects of…, well…, living…, is very real.
I am however, grateful to have fully utilised my body in the creation and sustaining of new lives that lead to a world atlas laid out across my belly in stretch marks, breasts that were required to apply for their own post codes, and enough subcutaneous belly fat to make me wonder if there’s not still a baby in there that I’ve forgotten about!
But that’s not my point!
I read a very interesting article recently about how mothers should teach their teenage daughters to dress modestly so as not to elicit unwanted sexual advances from easily aroused teenage boys (or men in general). I agreed with the position of the article’s author who suggested that teaching our daughters to respect themselves and their bodies was an important part of parenting. It’s true. So the fact that I’m about to bring something else to light isn’t an attempt to undermine someone’s opinion, it’s simply an observation.
There are a number of cultures around the world that believe women should cover themselves in public. In some of those cultures the primary ‘cover up’ philosophy is to protect women from men who can’t control themselves. If a man sees your womanly ‘body parts’ he can’t be held responsible for his actions! Therefore, being seen in public without covering, might lead to some form of corporal punishment for the offending woman. Women simply should not be seen to be giving someone the ‘come on’!
It seems to me that we’re too quick to take the male dominated world view that women need to take action to protect themselves from men. Men who seemingly don’t know there’s a difference between an invitation to engage sexually and the desire conform to fashion and cultural trends. Men who fundamentally believe women exist for their capacity to satisfy sexually. Men who do not appear willing to consider the capabilities of a woman without also considering her look, dress, body shape and/or manner.
Women too have fallen for the trap! Look at her, “she’s such a slut!” “Do you know her?” “No, but look at what she’s wearing!” After all, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…!!
So a few questions have been aroused in my willingness to attempt fixing the world’s problems. Why is it that we are still seeking to make women responsible for the behaviour of men? When are we going to be encouraged to raise our boys to be responsible with their sexuality? Why is it that boys are allowed the freedom to believe sex is a rite of passage and why, in order to make this rite of passage equitable instead of holding men accountable, as a culture we’re more likely to encourage our young women to join in.
Frankly, equipping our children to develop positive self worth as they mature is a part of best practice parenting. If that includes teaching our girls to dress modestly and preserve virginity to protect them, then I think we’re misguided. Raising our girls to believe they’re responsible for the poor behaviour of men is simply perpetuating the negative cultural view that has women carrying the guilt when men treat them badly!
There’s a lot of stuff that happens in childhood that no amount of Laura Ashley will protect us from. Sometimes it’s avoidable and sometimes it’s not.
For me, childhood was a nightmare of experiences that I spent all my years of raising children ensuring was not repeated. In the process I found out that building a family culture they were happy to identify with was possibly the most satisfying of all my (wide ranging) parenting experiences. Raising a son and a daughter had some interesting challenges that I neither expected nor wanted but I would not then, or now, give up on them.
So, should we teach our daughters that their modesty will somehow keep those randy youths at bay? Or should we teach them they have an important contribution to make to their family, friends, school, workplace and community. That they’ll be loved and supported throughout all of growing up’s challenges and they have the power to control with whom they choose to engage sexually or otherwise.
Yes, my provocative best, was born out of my need to be sexually desirable. After all, my childhood experiences created a young woman with no place in the world and no ambition beyond the ability to perform sexually. Let’s hope we’ve all changed enough to understand that the poor behaviour of men is their own responsibility and women will no longer pick up the tab!
Malala Yousafzai; We must tell girls their voices are important.