We must teach our boys about the value of women outside of their bodies and the bedroom.
As a mother of two tween boys, I am becoming increasingly more aware of how they are learning about a woman’s sexuality. This world we live in thrives off the exploitation of sex in every shape and form possible.
Sexual innuendos can be heard all over the place – from popular song lyrics to family movies to cartoons geared for older kids and teens.
Just the other night on Teen Titans Go!, they revealed a normally cloaked head to toe female character’s body. She was dressed in nothing but a leotard and the rest of the episode revolved around her teammates coveting the very exaggerated supermodel-esque legs she flaunted for them.
It’s hard to ignore or avoid scenarios like these where a woman’s value is decided by her sexy appearance.
The thing is, I don’t want my sons to grow up thinking women’s bodies are the glorified pleasure stimulators society has allowed the media to portray; for far too long, if you ask me. Everywhere you look, women are being exploited – we broadcast a major lingerie company’s fashion show twice a year at the very beginning of prime time on a basic, national broadcasting channel, to assure everyone- with or without cable- will be able to watch it if they so choose. Underwear in the early Fall, swimwear in the Spring. Every model fits the stereotype American Society has of the word sexy.
Growing up with a misogynist and chauvinistic father, I have witnessed, firsthand, what society has done to male culture. He cheated on my mother with a minor who exuded sex appeal from every pore of her tight, little body. When she came of age two years later, he filed for divorce from the woman who ruined her own sex appeal when she bore his children. The next fifteen years, my father paraded this child around like he was Hugh Heffner and she his personal playmate of a lifetime. All the while, he was raising me in a way that left me feeling inferior to my younger brother who never passed a grade in school without needing summer school and never followed the rules at home, while I maintained an A/B average and was well-behaved overall.
I will not allow my boys to think a women has no value outside of the bedroom between her sheets, like that. I can’t. I won’t. Women have much more to offer than simply T&A, pretty faces, taut bodies, and the intimate services provided by such.
Women’s bodies are designed for purposes above and beyond just sex. It is so important for me to teach my sons this before they grow to be just like my father and the other sexually-charged male counterparts lurking out there.
Despite my own, personal convictions, I do not make it a point to shelter or hide the perverse and provocative from them. (I’m not just handing my ten-year-old a Playboy and saying have at it, either. That would be quite hypocritical of the kind of men I’m raising here, wouldn’t ya think?) I don’t restrict things that are common amongst their peers, just because there’s a bit of racy, certainly not subliminal, messaging contained within. Like the video game Grand Theft Auto V or listening to Eminem raps.
I cannot deny the fact that I was a tween and teen once upon a time ago. I understand the need to fit in and belong to them is just as important as my need to educate them. Depriving them is only going to backfire harder than a rusted out ’89 Dodge Ram Conversion Van packed in tightly with a hoarder’s worthless treasure chugging down the interstate. Instead, we talk about what they see and hear.
And I am brutally honest.
They know the prostitute in the game is selling her body, because many men believe they have a free pass from looking for love first as well as from respecting women as equals.
They understand the buildings with the ornate décor and a multitude of bright, colorful light we pass on the main road every day are Strip Clubs and what actually goes on in there. When they asked, I told ‘em what a “trap queen” was and how she thinks it’s the only way she can make a good life for herself.
It is just as important as being honest for me to make it a point to counteract those farcical media exploits by normalizing my sons with the female body. I never hid the breastfeeding of their younger sisters from them. Even pumped in front of them, too. I allowed them to shower with me until kindergarten when they began asking for their own bath so they could play longer.
I feel that if I truly want the boys to understand there is more purpose to the woman’s body than her sexuality, because they are most importantly created for growing and nourishing new life. I have to show them directly and live by example, because seeing is believing when you are young and gullible still.
I walk around in my underwear (when I need to), I don’t make an issue over shutting the bathroom door (unless we have company of course), and I let the female baby of the family run around in all her naked glory without panicking they might get a glimpse of her parts. Natural curiosity is healthy and should be fostered.
The less they see sexualized portrayals of women in real life and the more accustomed to the female body in a natural, non-sexual way, the less likely they will be to fall into the pit of degrading sexual bigotry our society spews. And the more likely they’ll value women as equally as themselves – seeking brains before beauty, I hope.
Words like breasts, vagina, and periods are not given cutesy nicknames around here to add an element of shameful secrecy. Doing so is like labeling them as bad words or something they should only speak of in private. It creates the sense of taboo where we don’t want there to be any – driving the boys away from trusted sources of knowledge from their parents and into the hungry wolf den of societal blasphemy.
While sexual activity isn’t a concern yet, and we’ve only talked about the basics when discussing puberty, we explained that sex is a healthy form of intimacy within the context of a monogamous relationship and viewing women as a personal play toy outside a normal, healthy, committed relationship surely isn’t acceptable.
There are so many fine lines being blurred and redrawn, I feel like I’m on a runaway train trying to battle the sex-fueled world we live in. Even cartoon channels trusted by turn into adult-themed anime at eight pm, long before their 9:30 pm become.
I hope that when my job is done, my boys will understand that it is human nature to be attracted to all kinds of people, but that attraction is also very deceiving. That it is not the basis of any lasting relationship and should not be their main motivation in being with somebody. As it obviously was for their grandfather.
While we’re only at the cusp of their own developing sexuality, I think we’re on the right track to raising young men who are able to look past the façade of the society and respect women completely.
One day I’ll have no choice but to send them off on their own, and I owe it to society to send off gentleman who are savvy to the perversions of society and ready to lead a new generation of men into redefining male culture for the better, far away from the sex sells/rape culture attitudes of today.
Photo: Leon Fishman/Flickr