Op-ed Argues that Mothers Are To Blame for Daughters Dressing Like Prostitutes

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:

Police Officers Advises Women to Avoid Sexual Assault By Not Dressing Like a “Slut”

Facebook “Smut” List Attracts 7,000 “Likes,” Cyberbullying Concerns Raised


Photo by myvirtuallady used under a Creative Commons license - http://www.flickr.com/photos/myvirtuallady/1083375105/


Adam R.
Adam R.1 years ago

in this generation, you can really blame them when everyone else dresses like them. find more pictures here http://cebu.filipinotemptation.com/

Adam R.
Adam R.1 years ago

in this generation, you can really blame them when everyone else dresses like them. find more pictures here http://cebu.filipinotemptation.com/

Adam R.
Adam R.1 years ago

in this generation, you can really blame them when everyone else dresses like them. find more pictures here http://cebu.filipinotemptation.com/

Hope Foley
Hope Foley4 years ago

I don't think that girls need to be taught "how to be a lady". Girls need to be taught how to be strong people and be given the resources to make wise decisions for themselves. Why are we still insisting that women follow some set of social rules about what is "appropriate"? Can we not grow through to a point where women can be deciding for themselves what they find appropriate? What exactly does dressing like or behaving like a "slut" define? If we give our daughters the support they need to develop self-esteem, they will be able to make their own wise decisions about how they wish to present themselves.

Hope Foley
Hope Foley4 years ago

this is so beautifully written... but I agree with some of the above comments that the role of fathers is just as important to consider in this issue.

marc page
Marc P.4 years ago

I caught my daughter sneaking clothing I did not approve of. She had borrowed them from a friend. I took the clothing, snipped it into very small pieces and brought it to her friend's parents. Apparently clothing like that isn't cheap! My instructions to my daughter were "If you cannot show enough responsibility to choose the appropriate clothing for your age I will do it for you - And I will send you to school wearing overalls and a straw hat. Being that I don't lie to my kids, and always do exactly as I say, she was aghast. But I am happy to say she is also properly dressed on her own volition now.

Jami Winn
Jami Winn5 years ago

my mama would beat my @$$ if i dressed like a prostitute she barely likes me wearing lower cut shirts

Alexandra O.
Alex O.5 years ago

If it doesn't stop at home with the parents, these girls have no reason to do otherwise. At a young age, girls have no clue whats appropriate and what's not. They also think if they show a little cleavage and thigh, they will finally get the boy. It's up to the parents to teach them how to be a lady. Unfortunately, many, many parents these days either just don't care or their lives are to busy to be bothered. Either way, parents are not doing their job and as a result, we have underage girls dressing like they should be standing on a street corner.

Sue T.
Susan T.5 years ago

A young girl needs to be taught that while it is not right if you dress like a 'ho you may be thought of and treated like one.

and seriously why would you want your daughter dressing like trash.

Claire M.
Claire M.5 years ago

The Wall Street Journal that is these days a property of News Corp , creators of FOX and the Star. What they wrote here is about as out of touch with reality as FOX News is.

I'm in my mid 50s and I remember when my own daughter was giving me grief on what to wear to school. She wanted to dress like her friends and that was far to mature I thought so I put my food down and then later found she was simply taking the clothing she wanted to school with her, most of it borrowed from her friend. This was back in the late 80s and now days the advertising , model industry, movies , games and music industry portrayal of women as object is much much worse.

But of course it has to be only the fault of one woman, the mom.