I'm officially confused. Are little girls made of sugar and spice or puppy dog tails?
It's Halloween tomorrow. Happy Halloween everyone! And I saw this article about Halloween costumes:
Basically, the article is about sexy Halloween costumes for kids. Let me just say that I find the idea of "sexy" and "kids" together beyond repulsive. But, I'm confused by the article. The author says:
What girls hear is who they are is how they look, and how they have to look is "hot," which is creating problems for girls at an ever-younger age, says Peggy Orenstein, author of "Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girly-Girl Culture."
"Girls are learning at the youngest ages that their value comes from how they look, and the definition of attractive is very narrowly defined as being sexy or sassy (for the younger girls)," Orenstein says. "Sexuality is imposed upon them inappropriately, and they are encouraged to define their bodies -- not by how their bodies feel to themselves, but by how they look to others. This creates vulnerabilities for girls to the pitfalls we worry about -- distorted body image, eating disorders, depression and unhealthy sexual behavior."
This makes some sense. In treating kids in a "sexy" way with their clothing, they start to define themselves that way. But, there's a problem. Is this statistically shown?
Another recent CNN article (http://www.cnn.com/2011/10/04/opinion/bennett-men-in-trouble/index.html?iref=allsearch) starts with this line:
For the first time in history, women are better educated, more ambitious and arguably more successful than men.
The article goes on to ask whether women even need men anymore. It cites statistics showing "women now surpass men in college degrees by almost three to two. Women's earnings grew 44% in real dollars from 1970 to 2007, compared with 6% growth for men."
This seems to be something of a contradiction to me. The one article thinks we are more and more teaching our girls to define themselves on how they look for men. The other article seems to be saying that women are looking to men less and less.
After reading some more articles and recent statistics and thinking about this a little, I am concerned that what we are actually talking about is not women and their role, but men.
It is an absolute fact that we have two sexes. It is also an absolute fact that those two sexes must interact. But that interaction is defined by the roles of the sexes.
I would never put my daughter in a "sexy" Halloween costume. I will also work hard to keep my daughter from any "sexy" anything for the next 30 years or so. I will talk to my daughter about family, career, competence, and caring. I hope that she will learn to respect herself for who she is. All of who she is. I will discuss the same issues with my son and hope that he respects himself for who he is.
But how society talks to my daughter has a direct bearing on my son. For if society is accepting my daughter as a person who fulfills the traditionally male roles of breadwinner, repair person, head of household, etc. Then, my son may wonder where he stands in relation to girls. And if the only answer we give him is a "look at how sexy she is" one, what are we teaching our boys?
It seems to me that our girls are pretty strong. They were traditionally told that their role was in the home and not the workplace, but this has changed. It is now well accepted that our women belong in the workplace, in the colleges, in the home, in sports. Basically, their role is everywhere.
But, what role have we given our sons. As a culture, we have been awfully slow to adopt a changed role for men. We still focus on boys' roles in the workplace and sports and have not accepted their roles as homemakers. This leaves them in a zone where their role is less than and not equal to that of women. Not only is this not sustainable, but what ends up as the focus is the difference in sexual roles. This is the one area where the traditional roles stick.
Our men need a new role. They need us to accept that they have the capability to take care of children, do the laundry, and cook dinner just as much as women have the capability to work on budgets, direct a company, or play sports. If we don't expand this role, the difference between men and women comes down to who is looking at who and who is being looked at. This is clearly not the role we want for either gender.