Plenty of memes that circulate on social media trigger me. I have firm views on all the hot button issues like gun control, equality for disenfranchised groups, so-called "religious freedom" and the 2016 Presidential race. My friends come from diverse backgrounds—culturally, racially, politically and regionally. The diversity in my Facebook newsfeed alternately amuses, terrifies, educates and enrages me. I consider it part of the human experience in this social-media-saturated cultural moment.
But as polarizing as political posts are, they can't touch how hot-tempered I feel when I read posts about the nature of little girls. The worst of the worst is the one I saw recently comparing little girls to apples on a tree. Several friends posted it on Facebook, and I watched as the "likes" multiplied throughout the day.
There's so much wrong with this metaphor that it makes my ovaries quake.
First, the metaphor makes girls totally passive. They are nothing more than apples that boys get to reach for. Boys have all the agency—they get to choose, to climb, to muster up the courage to reach; the girls can't do anything except hope they are in the right spot when a brave boy comes along.
The only metaphors I want applied to my daughter are ones where she gets to choose among a variety of partners (male or female, according to her preference), and together they create a relationship that is mutually enriching, loving and nurturing. Ideally, both my daughter and her partner would reach, discern and decide how to proceed in a relationship. I am not teaching my daughter that she "just has to wait" for the right boy to come along. True intimacy requires plenty of work on both parties' sides, not just the boys' efforts.
Stop insisting that uplifting our daughters requires us to degrade other girls.
Second, are we seriously going to uplift our daughters by knocking down other girls with the not-so-subtle message that "easy" is tantamount to "rotten"? Really? You want me to teach my daughter that there's a hierarchy of girls ranging from the "best" to the "most rotten"? There are zero scenarios in which I am willing to teach my daughter some girls are spoiled fruit that only lazy, cowardly boys will want. Moreover, there is no way that I'm suggesting she console herself for not being chosen by assuming she's amazing, while other girls are dirty, low-hanging fruit.
Third, I am 100 percent opposed to teaching my daughter or my son that when it comes to matters of the heart, boys don't want so-called "good" girls because they are afraid. How does it serve my daughter to teach her that, generally speaking, boys are cowardly and only interested in non-risky, "easy" girls? I don't want her default assumption to be that most boys are afraid of intimacy with an "amazing," quality girl, and therefore susceptible to the siren-song of easy sex. What does that teach her about her brother and her father, not to mention all the boys (and men) she'll encounter throughout her life? And what does that teach her about her own sexual desires, except that to succumb to them would be throwing herself on the ground to rot with the other dirty girls?
Can we please just stop? Stop slotting our daughters in imaginary rungs on a morality ladder that pits sexual expression against essential goodness. Stop insisting that uplifting our daughters requires us to degrade other girls and cast aspersions on the "true" nature of boys, who will be hopelessly seduced by rotten apples to give into their baser, sexual instincts. Stop giving girls the message that their sexual appetites are naughty and should be curbed in favor of moral goodness. Stop comparing girls to inanimate objects, like pieces of fruit.