To my daughters.
There’s been a huge public discussion about ‘consent’ and ‘rape culture’, and the concern that most guys have no respect for you or for your ‘consent’. It’s great that we’re having this discussion. The statistics and the stories are disturbing. It seems this culture is everywhere.
There are some mongrel guys out there who want to take advantage of you. Some go to Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat and think that in the privacy of social media, they can speak in degrading terms about their sexual prowess and their disrespect for females.
They’re feeding their minds with pornography which leads to negative stereotypes of women, the desire for sexual activity at a young age, and increased aggression towards girls. That’s what the research shows, and I bet you can see some of the evidence.
And it’s not just the boys at school. The objectification and the narrowing down of you and your friends to just your sexuality is everywhere in your world – online, in the media, in movies, in advertisements. By adults who should know better and who should be protecting you, not exploiting you for financial gain.
I can understand the pressure you are under to look skinnier, look prettier, look sexier, and the weight of the message that that is where your value lies. It is unacceptable pressure and I’m sorry and I’m angry you’re having to experience it, and that so few people are connecting the dots between sexualisation in the media, the porn industry, and the sexual aggression of which you could be a victim.
But here’s the good news.
The overwhelming majority of guys are not like that. They’re not sexually aggressive towards you. When they’re with you and talk to you, they respect all of you.
There will be those guys who don’t automatically give you the respect you deserve and don’t offer it when you demand it. If you happen to find one of these guys, lose him. Fast. Don’t even risk it. Don’t think you can change him. If and when he changes, maybe then. But that’s not your job. Your welfare and wellbeing come first.
Back in 2014, Hunger Games’ star Jennifer Lawrence spoke about some stolen nude photos of her that were published all over the internet. It was a disgraceful act by whoever stole them and then published them. But in justifying why the nude photos were taken of her in the first place, she said: ‘’… either your boyfriend is going to look at porn or he’s going to look at you.’’
That’s not correct. Not at all. That’s not demanding the respect you deserve – that’s buying into the rape culture we all deplore. Boys and men do not need to look at porn. Those that are need help, not enabling.
By suggesting that a female needs to provide naked images to her boyfriend betrays both herself and their relationship. It objectifies the female and reduces her to little more than a sex object designed to satisfy the sexual desires of a male.
If it happens to you, don’t feed it. Don’t even provide a snack. You’re more than that. Please know that.
Guys who respect themselves and respect others don’t do this.
There are guys out there who will respect you. Who will treat you well. Who will see the value of the whole you, not just the sexualised being.
As you know from living with me and your brother, males are not perfect. Far from it. And the culture that we live in tries to tell you that you’re only as good as you look, and that your value is to be measured by how much guys appreciate your sexuality.
But know this. You are worth so much more than that. I love you and would do everything to protect you. I see your potential. I see your worth in who you are, and not in what you do or how you look. I want the absolute best for you.
Set that as your litmus test.
I have great confidence that there are many young men who will hold to that same standard.
Anything less – and he’s not worth it.