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Thursday, August 29, 2013
Now, before you get all judgmental on me, NO I did NOT watch the VMAs. I have no interest in them. For the most part as far back as I can remember there was some "artist" or another doing nasty stuff on that show. WHY in the world would I sit my kids down to watch something like that? But thanks to the hoopla and uproar even the evening news BOTH local and national and the morning news programs have had pictures of her splashed all over the place. When your daughter says, "But, Mommy, I thought she was on Disney. Why would she do that?" You have to address it.
We had a talk about how young women who respect themselves act. How acting like that in public is not appropriate. That showing your body in such a way in front of a bunch of people just isn't right. The girls agreed that nice girls don't take off their clothes in public and they don't dance like that. That wearing a NICE bathing suit was OK, but ONLY if you are swimming. Whew. Conversation over. (My girls are way too young to have the rest of the conversation regarding sex and PDAs, etc. Yet...thank goodness.)
However, the more I've thought and pondered on it over the past week, the more angry I've become. While I agree that the performance was downright icky, is it really that much worse than MANY other performances? All day every day our society is inundated with gyrating and scantily clad women. Heck, the Victoria's Secret fashion show is on prime time TV now. AND don't start with the, "It's classy and artistic" argument. It's women in sexy clothes traipsing around for large numbers of people's enjoyment. I'm no prude. I'm all for sexy clothes and ADULT women wearing them in appropriate context, but one only has to check the sales number from the porn industry to know that objectifying women and sex is very profitable. And that's just the legal stuff.
Why is the outrage just pointed at this 20 year old ADULT woman? Why not at all the others? Watch any performance by nearly any female artist these days and I'll guarantee she's in nearly non existent clothing and dancing in a sexual way. You know what I think? I think it's because we all remember her as a little girl. How cute and smart and funny she was on that show. We see in her ALL our daughters. But, guess what? ALL those women on TV and in dance clubs and in movies and in strip clubs and porn are someone's daughter.
Maybe that's what we need to start thinking about. As the mother of young girls, I struggle to find clothes that are appropriate. Shorts are TOO short. Dresses too sexy. Tops with deep v-cuts. T shirts saying "I'm a princess" "I'm pretty" "Cheerleader" "Dance" All of which would be fine if you could also find ones saying "Athlete" "Math genius" "Reader" "Science Lover". You can't. Even those of us who TRY find it hard to dress our girls modestly. And why is that? Is it because of the media? Industry? NO. It's ALL of the mothers everywhere that buy that CRAP. They would not be making shorts that barely cover butts if we didn't buy them. Think about it.
And then I thought about the male half of this story. As far as I can tell, Miley Cyrus wasn't on that stage alone. As she was "twerking" there was a man, a MUCH, older man there touching her and pretending to do....well...watch the video. I haven't heard ONE commentary about how a grown man shouldn't be doing that with a much younger girl on stage. Once again the stereo type of SLUT vs STUD is more than obvious. It's OK for a man to have a video with multiple topless women singing about "I know you want it," but it is forbidden for a woman to respond in the only way a man wants her to when he says those words?
The funny thing is I actually kind of like that song. It's catchy. But, it's a perfect example of how hard it is to separate "fantasy" from reality. I don't think Robin Thicke who is married and father of a small child really dances around with naked women having sex with all of them all the time. At least I hope not. BUT, our kids can't separate that fact. We have got to start teaching our girls to value themselves. BUT we also have to teach our boys to value our girls. If we don't do both, we have failed all our children.
This morning I read this post on my Facebook. And so the next conversation about this Cyrusgate I will be having will be with my 15 year old son. Reminding him that yes, there are some very beautiful and sexy women to look at but every one of those is a person with a brain and a soul. Somebody's mom or daughter or sister. That real women of value are sexy and beautiful and desirous, but also smart and funny and honest and trustworthy and moral. And that REAL men value REAL women.
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Yes, back to school was a wonderful time. By the time it arrived, I was bored with summer games and playing outside. Skating down sidewalks and riding my bike with friends. Even swimming was old hat. I didn't want anymore craft projects or books to read or games to play. No matter how many wonderful things my Mom presented to me, none of them seemed exciting. I'd said, "I'm bored" enough times that Mom was sick of it and ready to ship me off to school.
As a parent, I realize now there is so much to back to school. Between worrying about the kids and making sure my long to-do list is complete, I find myself a bundle of emotion. I put on a brave face for the kids. I tell them how great it will be to see their friends. I see them just as excited about new back packs and lunch boxes as I was at their age. Inside, my brain is swirling.
It's really hard to be a parent. My Mom told me this many times, but of course I didn't believe her. She was a single working mom, sometimes working 2 jobs to support us. Knowing now what I didn't know then, my Mom's statement about parenting being hard seems like a HUGE understatement. Don't get me wrong. Being a parent is absolutely the single best thing EVER. My kids are amazing and funny and cute and smart and teaching me things everyday. I thank God everyday for them and the opportunity to be a parent. BUT, I'd be lying if I said every day is wonderful. ANY parent who tells you every minute is wonderful and they are enjoying every minute is a BIG. Fat. Liar.
For me the time leading to back to school is nerve wracking. There are forms to fill out and emails to answer. School supply lists that seem longer and more complicated every year. Now that my son is in (gulp) high school, there are summer readings and projects. Between school things and their outside activities, I feel like my head is spinning. Then there are the closets to clean out. Do they have shoes that fit? Back to school meet the teacher nights and phone calls to make.
And then there's mommy guilt. Did they have a good summer? Did they read enough? Did they study enough? I'll bet that kid down the street was in a 4th grade college prep PSAT class. I'll bet that kid's mom did interesting science experiments everyday. All that crap on Pinterest I see that looks so amazing, I'll bet SHE did ALL that. And took pictures of it. And posted it all on Facebook.
Then there are my insecurities. Will my kids have friends? What if they're bullied? What if they aren't popular? What if they are the annoying kid in class? What if they are the know it all kid? What if they aren't as smart as I think? What if they are just (*GULP*) AVERAGE?
And these days, much worse worries than that. Will they be safe? Is there a tornado shelter? What are the school's emergency procedures for lock down? Do my kids know what to do if there is an emergency? Will the teachers follow protocol in an emergency? How does my kid's school protect against intruders? What would my kids do if a stranger approached them? What would they do if someone they KNOW approached them inappropriately? What about the internet? How can I be sure they are not doing things they shouldn't be?
All of these worries and more make being a good parent these days stressful. Protecting our kids and guiding them through school is our most important job. But, being a good parent means making sure they enjoy school and get to be a KID from time to time. Play with no plans. Be silly and messy and spontaneous. At the same time, we have to make sure they learn enough so that they will be competitive in a very competitive world. They have to develop their brains and their social lives.
And guess what? We are only human. We can only do our best. Love them. Guide them and lead by example. Have faith that if we do our best, our best will be enough. That soemday we'll look at the children we've raised and realize it was hard, but we did good. I know that will be an awesome feeling.
But, for now, I'm going to shove all those worries aside. Do my best to teach my kids to be safe. Do my best to teach them to enjoy reading and math and science and just plain LEARNING. Show them how to manage their time and organize. Show them sometimes you screw up and learn from that, too. Do my best to be sure we enjoy these years of school and sports and band and Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts and ALL of it. Becuase after all, we only get ONE shot at that.
So bring it on BACK-TO-SCHOOL. We got this.