FYI (if you’re a teenage boy…, or a young man)

keep-calm-and-be-a-man-respect-womenFellows,

There’s an open letter on the internet about the pictures young ladies are posting on social media. It seems that some parents are upset that there are pictures of girls in various stages of undress because they’re afraid you’ll see them and be tempted into sexual sin. As a father of two daughters, I have something to say about this subject.

I don’t monitor my daughters’ social media pages because they are smart, self-respecting young ladies and I trust them. Oh, I see some of the pictures they post and, in general, I don’t have a problem with them. What I do have a problem with is the idea that they are responsible for thoughts that run through what passes for a brain in young men. Let me make it clear to you right now: THEY…ARE…NOT! You and you alone are responsible for what you think. Not my daughters, not any other girls, not anyone else. Period.

You’re getting some really awful messages about sex and sexuality these days and the idea that young women must dress modestly so you won’t be tempted is at the top of the list. It’s there because it let’s you off the hook for a truly despicable act: objectifying women. When you look at a young woman and all you see is a place to insert tab A into slot B, you have stripped away her humanity and reduced her to an object for your pleasure. And that, my brothers, is not okay.

You’re not the only ones to blame here, however; we parents bear some of the responsibility, too. Instead of talking to our daughters about dressing modestly or obsessing over how her pictures might affect you, we should be talking to you about how you see young women. What you need to understand is that no matter what a young woman is (or isn’t) wearing, what she’s doing or what she says, she is still a human being who has a worth that goes beyond her body. If you can’t grasp that, then you aren’t fit company for my daughters. Or any other girl on this planet, for that matter.

Now that we’re clear on what’s acceptable behavior where my girls are concerned, let’s talk about you. This idea that women should dress modestly so as not to tempt you worries me because it sends the message that you are animals incapable of resisting your dirty, despicable urges. That message is just as dehumanizing as the objectification we talked about a minute ago and nothing could be further from the truth. You are a child of God, made in God’s image and don’t let anyone tell you any different.

Like the mother who wrote the  letter that inspired this one, I pray for the young men (or women) that my daughters will spend their lives with. I pray that they will find people who love them as equals and treat them with the respect they deserve. And, I pray that my girls will live up to the ideals their mother and I taught them; that they also will love, honor and value their partner as an equal. They are awesome young women and I have no doubt they will do exactly that.

In closing, I want you to always remember that you are an amazing human being and, no matter what anyone says, so much more than a walking heap of hormones and bad ideas. Likewise, I want you to remember that women are also awesome human beings who deserve our respect and admiration. Like us, they are more than the sum of their parts and without them, we couldn’t maintain this life we’ve been gifted with. Remembering this might not make your interactions with women easy, but it will make them oh, so much better.