Monday, November 15, 2010

More thoughts on girls, sex, and our society

Having gone through all the comments on my previous post, Mothers, don't rely on the police to do the job of a father, I decided that I had reacted angrily, emotionally, and impatiently when I wrote it up.  Therefore, I changed the title and and made some edits because I do not want to give the impression that I think sex between an older adult man such as Raymond Bush and a very young girl is in any way condonable.  When Mary Kay Letourneau was molesting Vili Fualaau we called it molesting because she was an adult and he was a minor child, unprepared for all the repercussions sex can have and the onus was on her to behave according to the rules of society, rules she had many, many more years to learn.  Raymond Bush was also an adult and what he did our society considers illegal and completely unacceptable.  He was also apparently unstable and probably a danger to others, including other young girls.  So he was subject to the law just as Mary Kay Letourneau was.

I was also unfair to Taylor's mother.  I know almost nothing about her, only that she has children and is no longer married to Taylor's father.  My reaction to the circumstances which led to what happened to her daughter was speculation based on patterns I've seen in our society and not based on accurate information about her or her life.  I judged her without much evidence, and that was wrong.  I was wrong.  I can be proud, but I am not foolish enough to think that I might not have made the same or similar decisions had I been born her.   There but for the grace of God go I.  I have removed Taylor's last name and her mother's name from that blog piece.  I apologize sincerely.

However, both of those stories still illustrate quite clearly what our society has become and will continue to devolve into without the personal input, authority, and protection of men.  It absolutely exasperates me that we hear these stories night after night on the news and in our newspapers and among our friends and within our communities and we still are nodding our heads and smiling when Jennifer Aniston says stuff like:
Women are realising it more and more knowing that they don't have to settle with a man just to have that child.
and going to movies like Eat, Pray, Love in droves when we should be looking around and noticing that everything goes to garbage when the important contributions of men are ridiculed, shunted aside, devalued, and undermined.  Yes, some men walk out.  Some fathers bail.  And in the absence of ladylike behavior,  gentlemanly behavior has largely faded away.  But telling ourselves men aren't necessary and encouraging other women to go motherhood alone is, at best, unbelievably stupid and, at worst, actively evil.

Furthermore, sexualizing young girls as we do will only result in more of these tragedies.  The examples girls get in books, magazines, movies, fashion and from their older female friends and relatives tell them that sex is enticing, that sex is power and the sooner you can get that power the better.  We also as a society have told them that we don't expect chaste or risk-averse behavior from them every time we give them condoms or agitate for abortion without parental consent.  We have made it plain what we expect them to do, we do not adequately supervise them, and then we act like it's a terrible shock when they wind up pregnant in droves or when they take older lovers. The fact is that if you give a 14-year-old girl the encouragement, motive, and opportunity to have sex, she will choose the partner she finds most sexy, most powerful, most able to take her places or give her things or experiences, and a boy her age is unlikely to top that list.  We have to own that we as a society set up our boys and our girls to fail this test and that we are part of the problem.  Until we change ourselves, our own societal expectations, and what we teach girls, they will act sexually and be sexual, and there will be more chaos and violence.  Because a pretty, young girl has a transient but potent power, and it can be wielded disastrously.  This is why we used to clamp down on the sexual power of girls and young women because we understood the danger for her and for society and we did not consider her opportunity to enjoy her sexual power or "explore her sexuality" more important than the chaos that kind of power can and so often does cause.

We can choose to focus on Bush and his role of predator or we can see how we every day set the stage for this drama to occur and reoccur over and over and over again and watch the bodies pile up.

27 comments:

  1. I am sincerely glad to see the change of heart. It takes a big person to admit when they are wrong. And barring any type of abuse, I agree that children have the best chance of a happy childhood by having both parents involved and guiding them. I just don't agree that it's the only way, nor that it's guaranteed.

    Elinor

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  2. Grerp, I think we are trying to find a balance between the sexual power of women and the aggressive power of men.

    I'm reflecting here on your use of the term gentlemen. Gentlemen protected their Wives and Daughters.

    (To give a current example, if the TSA would never have touched you in those days. Because your father, your husband, and your brother would have demanded satisfaction. Instantly. Paid in blood). The same rules applied internally -- if you were beaten by your husband, he came home bleeding and sore from the next village meeting.

    We have disempowered the Western man -- he is not allowed to fight. In most of the West he is disarmed. We rely on the police and the VAWA rules. It is one of the reasons Islam is appealing to some foolish women -- they are looking for their white knight, and see the approval of aggression by Muslim men as allowing them to be safe. If they submit.

    There are other ways out of this. School uniforms for both genders (real ones -- that cover you from the calves to elbows, not the ones in Hollywood). Sports, Music, Church youth groups. Keep teenagers supervised, together, and busy.

    And teach the emotional and biological consequences, instead of the quasipornographic education that appears to occur in the US.

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  3. Most American women are desperately afraid of growing old so that do not raise their daughters; they befriend their daughter. They regard their nubile daughters as rivals when they are not using them as bait to atract young men into their clutches.

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  4. Elinor. You're not a big person yet. You actively looked for the wrong, and didn't acknowledge the obvious right in the last post.

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  5. Elinor - I really do try to be fair minded and I think it's clear I jumped to conclusions about Taylor's mother based on the very small amount of information I had about her. I also agree there are no guarantees.

    Chris - I think your ideas have a lot of merit. I would also support sex segregated education because the needs of boys and girls in classrooms settings can be very different.

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  6. Well, it is a complicated subject. I do agree with your basic concept. I got your underlying point the first time, I also understand that 14 year old girls should not have to be responsible for thier actions with adults. Keep up the good work.

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  7. This was a great post, Grerp. I also grokked what you said the first time; I had no illusions that you were promoting January-March romances.

    Something (I think) you said the last time really resonated with me...and that was how the very same 15 yo girl, whose judgement in seeking the 32 yo man as a sex partner is suspect, when/if she becomes pregnant, is magically level-headed and mature enough to make the unilateral choice to slaughter the fetus in utero.

    I have a hard time accepting that the very same girl who's not mature enough to decide who she opens her legs for is mature enough to decide whether another human being lives or dies. If we accept the latter...and we appear to have done so as a society...then it seems that accepting the former is required.

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  8. Iocard, you said "14 year old girls should not have to be responsible for thier actions with adults." Why don't you take a moment to think that through as in, what lesson should she take to her adulthood? That if something goes wrong in the future, she can always escape responsibility for her part in it?

    What 14 year old girls need are caring fathers and families who enforce standards for their conduct from childhood on so that by the time she is 14, she would know not to get involved with much older boys or men. Fathers who teach her that there are consequences to hanging out with the wrong people. No this isn't perfect, never will be, teens do rebel, but it's a dang sight better than the single mom who can't track her daughter very well.

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  9. off topic reader question- Recently, I read the following:

    "I have been contemplating some frustrations I have with what I remember from the feminist classes I took in college...that being a stay at home mother cannot equal ‘true feminism’ because you need to be able to support yourself, but pay for someone else to watch your children while you work and then do childcare at night."

    I'm not a feminist, but I once fell into this 'logic' when I quit my job, moved abroad, got married, and became a stay-at-home-wife. I felt pressure to return to the work world not for myself or my family, but to meet other's expectations about my place in the world in relation to being an independent woman. Eventually, I realized that as long as my husband and I are happy, it doesn't matter what feminists think I should or should not do. However, that answer didn't seem to satisfy this woman.

    My question for you is: how would you respond to the above woman that is in a mental fight with feminist doctrine that she learned and accepted, but can't seem to break free of?

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  10. you backtracked faster than larry summers on rollerskates, and it took almost no pressure to effect your retreat

    imagine how hard it is to stick with the truth under real pressure

    ray

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  11. I will say it again, a 14 year old should not be responisble for her actions with an older man. And if you think for one second an intact family is a complete profalactic to this sort of behavior you are wrong. What it does put the odds in your favor. I deal with this very subject all the time investigating these type of cases.

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  12. even on the internet, seeing "profalactic" makes me die just a little bit

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  13. Grerp, I agree about single gender schools. My boys attended Co ed through intermediate (ages 12 -- 13) and will then go single gender -- as will most of their classmates.

    And I'm serious about uniforms. Which, in NZ, are fairly strict -- see http://www.sohs.school.nz/school-info/uniform.

    And I grokked what you meant from the beginning, Parents should have the authority to stop their daughters (or their sons, for that matter) "exploring their sexuality" with people who are adult. I would argue the reformed position: they should not be exploring full stop. But the reformed would argue for fairly early marraige: around 18 or even 16 -- and the boy concentrating on getting on getting a trade so he can marry.

    We are using the police -- hard authority -- because the soft authority of shaming is no longer allowed.

    Chris

    (Note: my boys do NOT go the school i linked to -- it is in another town)

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  14. @Anonymous 11:55
    My question for you is: how would you respond to the above woman that is in a mental fight with feminist doctrine that she learned and accepted, but can't seem to break free of?

    I think part of the problem is that at this point feminism and its repercussions are so entrenched that we are no longer struggling with choosing the best thing vs. what is "right" for our families. "What is right for our families" was always a catch-all excuse for any decision made by the mother anyway.

    From the decisions Gen X has made it's pretty clear that they didn't fully buy into the fast track/work 80 hours/fit in 15 minutes with Junior ideal goal for female empowerment. I've had older women observe to me that women of my generation and younger have no drive and no dedication, but, frankly, I always clocked out a 5PM sharp. I wanted a life and I didn't want to "volunteer" my time to some corporation or organization that would take it and forget about it the very next minute.

    However, because we now have a full generation and a half burdened down with student loans as well as other major economic problems, the choices the Boomers could make for their families (with some significant belt tightening) are often nearly impossible. A few very focused people climb out of the debt hole; most will see how far away the top of the hole is and give up or even keep digging. The future is gone, what's the point? May as well live for today.

    This is why I haven't really addressed the issue of staying home with your kids because even though I am at home, it feels like rubbing it in to talk about it. To be able to stay home you have to make conscious decisions starting in your early adulthood and you have to marry someone who did too. And you have to have never had a major illness or accident. And you have to have never been sued or messed over in divorce court or targeted by a con artist. Or you have to be 17 kinds of motivated to get out of the debt hole.

    As for feminist doctrine, there's no point in arguing it because the endpoints - and, therefore, the argument - keep shifting. I'd ask this woman what she really thinks is important, being with her kids or being at work? Does she want to know her kids? Does she want to build a strong bond with them? The common highly promoted thought is that daycare is as good or even better(!) than a stay-at-home parent because of socialization, learning, etc. My answer would be that 1) you can't pay someone else to love your child and place his welfare first and 2) a strong relationship is built over time. You have to spend time with someone to know him, and vice versa. It's possible a child development expert could have educated my son better than I did, but there is no one who knows him better than I do because I put in the time. The person he has the most implicit trust in is me.

    My focus is on children. Two-incomes may be necessary today given the financial precariousness of families. But having no one home erodes the quality of the family experience. Feminist propaganda dismissed this, and most people's lives are more stressful and less satisfying because of it. There is no longer any respect given the housewife, so fewer women aspire to the vocation and the ones that do feel like they are second rate women.

    Given that reality, making converts is pretty tough.

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  15. EW - I mentioned parental consent laws regarding abortion not capacity for making adult choices, but I see your point. We both know that NARAL would consider a brain-dead person to be capable of choosing abortion because they do not think there is a moral component involved. Much like blowing your nose.

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  16. chris - I checked out the link you gave. Those uniforms are very similar to the ones my son has to wear at his Catholic school. The only downside is that I can buy other clothes much cheaper second hand, but the school does a uniform exchange which helps.

    Later marriage has definitely complicated the matter of promoting abstinence. Rampant sexual exploration seems to be a cat that is not just out of the bag, but gone from the horizon as well. Only religious groups seem to be trying to hang on, with limited success. It's hard to tell a teen that he can't have sex - now or for the next, oh say, 15 to 20 years.

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  17. Despite the limitations of your first post which you tried to correct in this one, I think your overall point was a sound and valid one.

    In the hoopla concerning the 35-year-old Raymond Bush, something was missed that should not have been. Namely, that the same people who most often approve of handing out condoms to middle schoolers then turn around and castigate (maybe rightly so) the older men who bed these newly sexually empowered females. You can't have it both ways!

    To single out the one case of Raymond Bush and harp on that while ignoring the larger issue of sexualizing girls at younger and younger ages while telling men not to notice (don't look! don't touch! don't even think about it!) reveals a cognitive dissonance that is pretty common among most feminists. I am often left speechless at some of the clothing I see (or rather don't see) on the daughters of people I would categorize as strong Christians. There really is a disconnect.

    Additioanlly, grep, I agree with your thoughts concerning the problems of promoting abstinence while advocating marriage later and later in life. It just doesn't work.

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  18. Hi grerp, I have been reading your blog for a long time, and although I don't agree with all of your views, I appreciate what you write. I am a happily married woman now, but I had a past that I am not proud of. I was that underage girl who didn't have a father and raised by an authoritarian single mother. When I had just turned 15, I got involved with a man 7 years older that I met online, and I thought I was "mature" enough to handle the situation. The relationship was not consummated until I was 17. I do think I hold a good amount of responsibility for my own choices and actions, and that I was acting out of my own volition.

    I was not dressed sexily or undersupervised, I stayed at home most of the time and was a good student. I went on to a great college and got a good career with no debts. In every other aspect I was a "responsible" teenager, but when it came to the older man, I made truly an atrocious choice. People can say that he was the one more at fault, and perhaps that is true, and perhaps if my father had not left my mother things might have turned out differently, but looking back I was also to blame.

    This is a complex issue that has no clear answers. I think though that you should not be so quick to view the 14 year old girl as a child. A teenager is a very different creature with a lot of willpower and stubborness, and treating her as a child can sometimes lead to great harm as well. I wish some adult would have talked to me not as a child, but as a budding young adult who was extremely unexperienced and clearly needed guidance.

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  19. Anonymous 12:46 - thanks for reading and commenting. Your thoughts on this, given your experience are very interesting. It's been 25 years since I was 14, but looking back I feel that I was still very childish at that age and for some time after that. I was sheltered, though. The transition from childish to adult can vary in length, I suppose. There are definitely stages of childhood and adolescence too.

    I think it's very important that we all try to examine ourselves and our actions to see how we affect and have affected our interactions with others. You seem to have done that, and I respect you for it.

    Terry - Thanks for weighing in. You'd think it would be hard for society to blame men for responding to girls who walk around in short shorts with, say, the word BOOTIE scrawled across them, but you would be wrong. There is a real disconnect there as you say.

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  20. The topic begs us to define where exactly the authority of the parent ends and the authority of the child begins (or at least that is one element of it). With that in mind I have a question, at one point is it the duty of a parent, as a citizen and an adherent of a morale code, to condemn, write off and renounce their offspring. I’ve felt very strongly for the last few weeks, that the father of the sewer girl Karen Owens, has an absolute duty to call her a slut to her face, write her out of his will and declare her to no longer be his daughter. If he fails to do this then he is a betrayer of the morale code just as she is. It’s a lot easier for me to come down ultra hard on such filthy specimens as Karen Owens, since she is so completely an epitome of the modern “sexually empowered” whore our society is infected with, but take a look at a much more extreme example:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IjW7bezdddE

    This interview shows that the father of Jeffery Dahmer still had on going relationship with his son even after he was convicted of murdering and eating over thirty people. Amazing, I don’t know what to say about that! So again, as a non-parent to a parent, at what point is it your duty to completely reject and condemn your progeny?

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  21. I am a parent. I could never reject my child because aside from being an adherent to a moral code, I am also an adherent to the Law of Love.
    My child may reject my values, but that does not entitle me to reject him or at least my hopes for him.
    Having said the above, there are things I can do to to show I reject his behavior. I have the right to talk to him and state my disapproval of his behavior. I have the right to try and steer him into programs that may be of help.I have a right not let him live in my home if he is an adult and won't abide by my rules or values. I am not obligated to bail him out financially. I am not obligated to share an inheritance with him. I am not obligated to put up with abuse. If he attempts to harm me, I am obligated to call in the authorities. If he is a harm to other people, I am obligated to bring that to the authorities.
    I have known a number of parents who have had to deal with behavior they found abhorant. None of them completely rejected their children. For some it was a terribly long wait to see some change. When the child changed they brought them back into the family. Some never did due to a variety of reasons and still hope and pray diligently for this human being they had so many hopes for. When you love a child, you always hope they will fulfill their potential. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't.

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  22. @ grerp: Went shopping yesterday for boys senior uniform. Blazer, vest (sleeveless jersey, 2 shirts, 1 pair trousers, tie (it changes in senior school). That was new from the stores: his younger brother can use hand me downs as the clothing is fairly well made -- it has survived 18 months of teenage boy.

    Total cost around $550. In comparison, a cotton T shirt costs $20, branded jeans cost $100, and a merino T shirt (which is needed in winter) will cost about $120.

    Most parents here think uniforms are cost effective. The ability of children to display wealth and compete is removed. And I recall it helped my mother raising my sisters -- who hated their uniforms because they could not modify them -- because there was no choice. Everyone had to wear the same thing.

    @ anonymous 6:48. In countries with domestic violence laws, simple sibling fights can be reported against you if you have a PEW. Which the cops are obligated to attend, and hate doing so.

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  23. What many stupid feminist women refuse to acknowledge is that many other types of personal power are also restrained by a successful culture, also for the public good.

    Somehow, though, they are in favor of restraining those other types of power, but not .their own sexual power

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  24. Grerp and others. How do you feel about Myspace/FB? I think for some it is greatly contributing to the oversexualization and more importantly the uncontrollable narcissism of today's young people. I've recently been thinking about this a lot. My sisters have hundreds of pictures of just themselves. They document every event of their lives. I noticed I was similar and have since stopped. But I do not expect teenagers to be so self aware. They're going to grow up to be very self absorbed individuals.

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  25. Dream Puppy - I think there is a whole lot of narcissism going on out there on FB/MySpace. All those girls with hundreds of pictures of themselves and only themselves? Not good.

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