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I was wondering
what you think about Mrs. Hall’s Letter to Teenage Girls. I have been reading about it everywhere. Do French parents have these same kinds of
problems with their teenagers? I have a baby girl. When she gets older I know that I never want
her to take ridiculous photos and send them to boys, but I sort of feel like
it’s a double-standard.
Thanks Spanx! Thanks
for granting me the opportunity to write the previous sentence, as well as for allowing
me a chance to expound upon Mrs. Hall’s now viral epistle to half of the
I’m weirdly both proud and ashamed to reveal my initial
response to the letter. Here goes: Upon reading it, I had a strong desire to
send Mrs. Hall’s sons a stack of porn. Purely out of spite.
As the mother of two daughters, I was hugely put off by Mrs.
Hall’s overtone of blame and shame. (For
any readers who have yet to see it, Mrs. Hall—a fellow blogger—has written
an open letter to all of her teenage sons’ female friends, lecturing them about
modesty, and warning that if any girl should send a provocative image of
themselves to her boys, they will be blocked from sending anything in the
future. Mrs. Hall will be monitoring. Yikes.)
This lady is making sexuality the enemy, and that’s only going to make things worse.
We have a very close family friend who is French. Whenever we’re out and see a scantily dressed teenage girl, he turns to me and says something like, “Promise me you will lock your girls in their room if they ever wear something like that.” Because of this, I was afraid to ask mon ami what he thought of Mrs. Hall’s letter. Although I’m terrified of the thought of my girls sending compromising, come-hither selfies to boys, I am more fearful of them growing up thinking that the female is always to blame, and that men only see them as sexual objects.
For you, Spanx, I broached the subject with my Frenchie
friend, and I’m glad I did! As usual, he
pointed out that our two cultures are very different (yeah, yeah, yeah). However, like me, he felt sorry for the girls
who get dumped on. “In my experience in
France, kids are little kids for longer. Boys still wear short pants until a certain age. But here in the U.S., kids get sexualized
earlier. In France though, we are not
afraid of sexuality, and we know that our teenagers are feeling—and doing—things. You can’t blame all of this on
the girls. It’s natural. This lady is making sexuality the enemy, and
that’s only going to make things worse.”
I am not advocating that teenage girls send compromising pics
that will tarnish their reputations forever, but I am pushing for conversations
in which both genders are taught respect. Being a teenager has always been confusing, but I imagine it must be
more complicated now than it’s ever been. To wit: Miley Cyrus.
I hope to God that we’ve figured out how to navigate
teenagery and social media by the time my girls hit the double digits. If not, maybe I’ll have to cop this family’s
style and banish all technology issued after 1986.