A weekend op-ed from the Wall Street Journal asks mothers a very interesting question: Why do so many of us not only permit our teenage daughters to dress like this — like prostitutes, if we’re being honest with ourselves — but pay for them to do it with our AmEx cards?
Jennifer Moses, the op-ed’s author, argues that mothers allow their daughters to dress like prostitutes because:
- they regret their sordid sexual pasts
- they don’t want to be hypocrites
- they want their daughters to be “attractive, sought-after and popular”
- they want to live vicariously through their daughters
Moses further argues that not only are teens dressing like sluts, but they’re inevitably acting like sluts because dressing like a slut and being a slut are really one in the same, especially since the mothers of her generation don’t really know how to teach their teens how to keep it in their pants.
So, mothers let their daughters dress likes prostitutes and they, in turn, act like prostitutes as a result.
There are so many problems with Moses’ articles that it’s hard to pinpoint where to start but let’s start with this – during puberty it is completely natural for teenagers to begin seeing themselves as sexual beings and experiment with different ways of expressing their newfound sexuality, like for example, through their dress.
As Morning Gloria at Jezebel points out:
“…teenage girls choosing to present themselves as sexual beings is not the same as actually acting as a sexual being, just as wearing a Miami Heat jersey does not make you Dwyane Wade’s teammate. While clothing sends a message, it does not imply sexual activity…”
Furthermore, if mothers don’t know how to talk to their children about sex, like Moses argues her generation doesn’t know how to do, they better learn or find someone that does. Not letting your daughter dress like a prostitute and then hoping for the best isn’t going to cut it.
Parents need to educate their teens about sex and make their values on the subject clear. Communication is key – not wardrobe inspections.
Lastly, emphasizing the importance of being “attractive, sought-after and popular” teaches teens to not only judge others, but themselves, primarily by their outward appearance. We need to instead teach teens to value themselves and others for their skills, positive attributes, uniqueness, and knowledge.
The bullying epidemic of today is driven by the notion that being “attractive, sought-after, and popular” is of utmost importance. Imagine if teens judged their peers for what’s on the inside instead of the outside?
As someone who doesn’t have any daughters yet but one day hopes to, I’ll leave you the hopes Mary Elizabeth Williams over at Salon has for her daughters:
As they grow up, I don’t want my own tween daughters to ever believe that their sexuality is a performance, or that how they feel about themselves and their partners is tied to how provocative they look or act. I want them to value themselves and their peers — to not judge other girls as skanks, to not view boys as those creatures whom they have to guard against at all times. I want them to believe that their sexuality isn’t something to be afraid of, to be doled out stingily and grudgingly. I want them to know it’s not the length of your skirt that matters; it’s what’s going on between your ears. And I wish someday for my daughters — and their friends, both the girls and the boys — what plenty of us not named Jennifer Moses have been able to achieve: a lifetime of healthy self-esteem, varied experiences and zero regret.
I could not agree more.
Related from Care2:
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