Slut-shaming, Suicide, and Mrs. Hall

6 Sep

Most of you have probably already seen Kim Hall’s post FYI (if you’re a teenage girl). Both the original and the many, many brilliant take-downs written in response have been circulating social media this week, so it’s been pretty hard to avoid. If by some chance you’ve managed to miss out on all the fun, I highly encourage you to take a moment to go read Mrs. Hall’s open letter to all girls everywhere. It sure is something.

A lot of really smart folks have written some incredible posts touching on Mrs. Hall’s contribution to societal problems like slut-shaming, rape culture and body image issues. I don’t have anything new or brilliant to say on those topics, but I do want to talk about an aspect of Mrs. Hall’s message that hasn’t really been touched on yet: the very real link between the ideas that she’s putting forward and the recent rise in cyber-bullying, online slut-shaming and teenage suicide.

When I read Mrs. Hall’s letter, the first people that I thought of were Amanda Todd, Retaeh Parsons, Audrie Pott, Cherice Morales. In each of these cases, photographs of the girls that showed them either in various states of undress, or else showed them being sexually assaulted, or in some instances both at the same time, were circulated on social media. In each of these cases, the girls became social pariahs. In each of these cases, the girls committed suicide after enduring bullying and slut-shaming both online and offline.

I am not saying that Mrs. Hall is consciously suggesting that her children should shame or bully their classmates, especially those who have been sexually assaulted. If you asked her, I’m sure that she would tell you that those ideas are so far from what she intended to communicate as to be almost laughable. But still. Slut-shaming, ostracizing and bullying are the end-game of everything she is teaching her children.

When she writes:

And now – big bummer – we have to block your posts. Because, the reason we have these (sometimes awkward) family conversations around the table is that we care about our sons, just as we know your parents care about you.”

And:

And so, in our house, there are no second chances with pics like that, ladies. We have a zero tolerance policy.  I know, so lame. But, if you want to stay friendly with our sons online, you’ll have to keep your clothes on, and your posts decent.  If you post a sexy selfie (we all know the kind), or an inappropriate YouTube video – even once – it’s curtains.

What she is really telling her children is that girls who do not conform to her particular ideas of “modesty” are bad. She is telling them that the girls who post sexy selfies are worth less than the girls who cover up. She is telling them that the girls who pose with an “extra-arched back” and a “sultry pout” are not good enough to associate with her children. Worst of all, Mrs. Hall is telling her sons and daughter that it is fine – in fact, actively encouraged  in their household – to shun and ostracize these girls.

By saying that these teenage girls do not respect themselves, Mrs. Hall is teaching her kids that they are undeserving of anyone’s love or respect.

And that’s a pretty fucking toxic message.

If you think that this is too much of a reach, think about it this way: when Mrs. Hall and her family sit around their dining room table and critique the selfies posted online by her sons’ female friends and Mrs. Hall announces that yet another girl needs to be blocked because she’s showing too much skin, what her children learn is that the way that those girls are behaving is shameful and they deserve to be shamed in a way that makes them face real-life consequences. And when a Hall boy goes to school and tells his friend that he’s not allowed to hang out with so-and-so because her pictures are too slutty, and that friend tells a friend, and that friend tells a friend – well, it’s not hard to imagine what those real-life consequences will be.

And, of course, in high school, as in the Hall household, there are very rarely second chances.

When Mrs. Hall advises her son’s female friends to, “take down the closed-door bedroom selfies that makes it too easy for friends to see you in only one dimension,” I can’t help but wonder how many dimensions her sons and her sons’ friends saw those girls in before they heard those comments. Probably they saw them in the same way that they saw all their other female friends: as girls who were funny, girls who were smart, girls who were good at sports or art or music. Probably the Hall boys saw them as brilliant, well-rounded individuals, each contributing in their own interesting way to their lives. Probably they saw them as people.

But now?

Well, now they likely only see them in, as Mrs. Hall says, one dimension. That dimension being, of course, their physical bodies. Mrs. Hall has successfully reduced these girls to little more than pretty, shiny, skin-baring objects. And it’s pretty fucking easy to treat an object badly. It’s pretty easy to treat it cruelly, sub-humanly, even, because objects don’t have feelings. Objects don’t have thoughts. Objects exist only for the pleasure of others.

Objects are not people.

And so I worry about those girls, the girls that have already been branded as impure and immodest. I worry about the other girls that her sons will meet and, armed with their mother’s opinion, brand on their own. I worry for them because of the teasing and humiliation that they might have to endure; I worry about them because of the ways that the Hall boys and their friends might other, might even dehumanize these girls. I worry that when these girls tell adults about how they are being treated, they will be made to feel as if it is entirely their own fault, as if they were asking for it. I worry that they will start to think that, as Mrs. Hall said, there are no second chances. I worry that these girls will feel like their worlds are closing in on them, that one stray picture has ruined everything forever, that there is no way out of the mess that they believe they’ve created.

I worry for these girls’ lives.

slut

73 Responses to “Slut-shaming, Suicide, and Mrs. Hall”

  1. Jennie Saia September 6, 2013 at 6:18 pm #

    Yes. I was so utterly skeeved out when I got to the line about “… we are hoping to raise men with a strong moral compass, and men of integrity don’t linger over pictures of scantily clad high-school girls”

    Right, and the only way for men to maintain their integrity is for all the women to cover up. How about teaching your boys not to linger over those photos in an inappropriate way, instead of demanding that the girls never post the photos?! (And yes, there is an appropriate way for adolescents to appreciate sexuality.)

    I really hate when mothers perpetuate sexism in their sons.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy September 10, 2013 at 5:30 pm #

      Right, and the only way for men to maintain their integrity is for all the women to cover up.

      That’s the same rationale Islamic Republics use to justify the burqa.

      • Dana September 13, 2013 at 3:08 pm #

        If you’re going to concern-troll about Muslim women, at least get your veiling terminology straight. I’m tired of everyone calling it a burqa. There are LOTS of different ways to veil and if you can still see the woman’s face or eyes, it’s *not* a burqa.

        It matters because people like you trot out crap like this out of a supposed concern for the women, but you can’t even be bothered to learn how things are done in their world and why.

  2. ardenrr September 6, 2013 at 6:18 pm #

    It bothers me that I don’t see things like you do sometimes. To explain, I read Mrs. Hall’s post first and thought, “I get that.” Now, I read yours and agree completely. I didn’t even think of these things when I first read her post. I need to open my eyes more and read between the lines.

    Great post.

    • audrawilliams September 6, 2013 at 8:01 pm #

      Did you notice how her post was punctuated with half-naked pictures of her sons? SUPER WEIRD/HYPOCRITICAL.

      • ardenrr September 6, 2013 at 8:07 pm #

        I didn’t! I read the version with the comment at the top that said she’d switched the photos out. That is very strange!

    • Writer / Mummy September 6, 2013 at 8:16 pm #

      I had exactly the same reaction: I only read Mrs Hall’s post after starting to read this one. I didn’t see what was so awful, except the fact that she saw no hypocrisy in posting half-naked pictures of her son in the post. And then I read this insightful and thoughtful commentary and I feel awful for my previous lack of insight. I also realise that I am perpetuating the same culture by continually telling my 4yo daughter to stop flashing her pants at the world when I hardly notice when my son is naked. I’m horrified to discover how much of Mrs Hall’s opinion is ingrained so deep in my psyche I don’t even notice it. Thank you for opening my eyes. I don’t feel like I have a clue how to raise my son or daughter in this complicated world. I’m just glad I made all my mistakes before there was Internet.

      • ardenrr September 6, 2013 at 8:19 pm #

        I don’t have kids yet and I’m terrified about what I will unintentionally convey to them.

        Also, everyone who read Mrs. Hall’s post should read this:

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marisa-mcpeckstringham/fyi-if-youre-a-teenage-boy_b_3880516.html

      • Writer / Mummy September 6, 2013 at 8:33 pm #

        Brilliant. Funny how easily this shows how awful the original post was (I need to pay more attention to my own viewpoint.)

        There are times I’d like to find some sensible professionals and leave child rearing to them as I know I’m going to get it all wrong. And the whole social media things terrifies me. I wrote some really stupid letters to a boyf when I was a teenager – one of which got read out on the school bus. That was mortifying enough. Imagine the whole school reading and sharing? *shivers*. I think that’s why I originally didn’t have such a problem with the Mrs Hall post, because I want my kids to think carefully about what they post online for the world to see (and I’m setting a terrible example, posting pics of them on my blog everyday)

      • ardenrr September 6, 2013 at 8:37 pm #

        There is definitely going to be a learning curve. I’m 27 so I was part of the last group of kids to grow up without FB and Twitter. I couldn’t even send pictures on my phone until I was in college! I don’t know what I’ll do once I have teenagers (I just got nauseous thinking about that). I don’t want to be a stalker mom who watches every little thing their child does on social media, but I’m scared I might have to be, knowing there are moms like Mrs. Hall out there….

      • Writer / Mummy September 6, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

        I will be the stalker mum. No question. At least until they’re 18 and certainly as long as they live in my house! I’ll make it up to them later. :) I’d have been happy for my mum to take that much interest in me, to be honest! She was the opposite kind of parent! (Still is)

    • Gunmetal Geisha September 6, 2013 at 11:54 pm #

      Thanks for the Huffpo link — I needed that.

      • ardenrr September 7, 2013 at 7:10 pm #

        I did too. Some people said it was in poor taste but I liked it. Some people need to be called out.

      • Gunmetal Geisha September 8, 2013 at 1:54 am #

        I don’t think it was in poor taste at all, without spelling anything out, the satire piece clearly points out all the scariness and fallacy of the original post. What’s horrifying though, if you read the comments, is so many people took it seriously and didn’t realize it was satire. People scare the shit out of me. The girls that are posted in Belle Jar’s eye-opening piece — I deliberately stay away from too much detail about tragic injustices to girls / women. The one girl whose pictures of assault were passed around — who ARE these “human” beings who participate? And I don’t mean the assaulters, I mean all the ones who could look at something like that and pass it on. I don’t understand how such people can be part of the same species as the rest of us. That was a long reply. I’m just deeply affected by this slut-shaming business, and like you, it took Belle Jar’s post for me to see that the original post isn’t simply uptight and conservative (and presumptuous, arrogant, etc. etc.), but dangerous.

      • ardenrr September 8, 2013 at 2:06 pm #

        I did see these comments and couldn’t believe some of them!! I’m so ‘happy’ I didn’t grow up with the technology people have today. I worry for my future kids. It’s going to be tough.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy September 10, 2013 at 5:33 pm #

        What’s horrifying though, if you read the comments, is so many people took it seriously and didn’t realize it was satire. People scare the shit out of me.

        GG, in an age of extremes like we have today, there is no such thing as satire. No matter how crazy and over-the-top you go for laughs or snarks, there’s going to be some True Believer out there twice as over-the-top and Dead Serious.

      • Gunmetal Geisha September 11, 2013 at 10:02 pm #

        I’m starting to think it’s possible those you call “True Believers” might be over-running the rest of us.

    • SusanMc October 1, 2013 at 8:16 pm #

      It is learning to see from all sides, something we all need to learn. Great that you are open to that !

  3. Elaine September 6, 2013 at 6:37 pm #

    I love your posts. I didn’t read Mrs. Hall’s until you brought it to my attention. I agree that she seems to be saying that girls need to not send degrading pics…but I also think she was sending the message that girls are better than that and that sometimes they need redirection. I’m not sure the parts of Hall’s writing that were quoted in yours really accurately reflect what she was trying to say.

    • Sarah September 13, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

      I completely agree. I think this article has taken Mrs. Halls Note completely out of context. It actually frustrates me to no end!

      I think she was speaking positively about girls saying they are better then what they are putting out. DO parents actually want men drooling over their young girls photos on these social media sites? I’m confused?

      Don’t get me wrong, I feel for the families affected by online shaming of their daughters etc. I think it’s sick! I do not blame the girls that had this happen to them, but on the other hand if that’s not ok, why do we think it’s ok for our young girls to willingly post half naked sexual photos of themselves online?

      I feel like society is trying to say that it shouldn’t matter what we post on these online sites, but if there is consequences for our actions… watch out! Mamma bear is coming out! LIKE WHAT?? Where is the common sense? Why not prevent this in the first place? I just wish women would respect themselves more. Why is it that in order for girls to feel like they are something they have to sexualize themselves for the whole world?

    • Jenn September 13, 2013 at 5:41 pm #

      I agree there were a lot of words put in Mrs Hall’s mouth. The point was…if you want to be friends with my sons…then they have high standards, and us for them…and us for you! You are worth more than the sultry half naked photo you posted and just degraded yourself below the level of standard set. I see nothing wrong with these statements. I am trying to raise 2 boys and a girl in this social climate as well and you better believe if I see a scantily clad girl on my 13 year olds facebook page…goodbye. Read whatever you want into that. But that is the way it is. If girls make choices that negatively affect and influence my sons then we will act on that. She did not mention what the dialogue or repercussions would be for that girl or if the boys would embarrass the girl the next day by explaining that their parents thought she was too slutty to be friends with…(the words you put in her mouth…not what I took at all!) in fact I doubt they would make any mention of it at all since everything else pointed to the fact that she is trying to raise kind and good men who would show compassion in their judgement. Of course we raise our children to judge…people and places and experiences…we are judging all the time. The trick is to do so fairly. I would judge a girl posting inappropriate photos on the internet as one who needs to be uplifted and is craving attention. I am sure she is still funny, sweet, smart and nice. I am sure she can still play soccer and sing in the choir. I didn’t REDUCE her to being one dimensional by pointing out the inappropriateness of her choice to my son. The photo had ALREADY DONE THAT. Which is the whole point. I would teach my son to treat her in a way that builds her up and reaffirms her other positive character traits and judge her fairly, but no, he may not encourage her to further the negative attributes of young female sexuality on the internet (not to mention that some images can constitute child pornography) not in my home and not with my son. In fact I am REJECTING this culture for both my sons and daughters. I would certainly hope that if I totally failed at raising a daughter who was so self assured and confident in who she was that she could bypass the easy albeit pathetic attention grabbing of a newfound sexuality exploited on the internet to be seen and judged by friends and family on the internet that Mrs Hall WOULD shut her down…and call me. Please. I am afraid you were so busy looking for how this conservative Christian woman was wrong that you entirely missed the point. We need to halt this culture in it’s tracks. The parents of both boys and girls need to stop both from engaging and encouraging. There posts read like and adult version of “he said/she said” and it gets us nowhere. Here is my message; |Girls and boys; don’t exploit your sexuality and cheapen yourselves to the point of losing the other dimensions of who you are outside of that and girls and boys; don’t engage when the other puts it out there in a way that is tasteless with the purpose of attracting inappropriate attention. Parents’ remember that they may have grown up body parts but not grown up brains. You are still responsible for them!

  4. Kayla September 6, 2013 at 6:47 pm #

    The logic choo-choo in your post is laughable. That blog post only voices preferences of behavior, and you’ve just been reduced to arguing about taste.

    If you don’t like slutty behavior you’re a woman hater? Got it. Writing must be easy for you. You’ve got the same conclusion in every post. Just make up a narrative relating it to some current event and you’re done.

    • Justina September 6, 2013 at 6:57 pm #

      You pretty much just proved the entire point of this blog post. So, good on you.

      • Kayla September 6, 2013 at 7:50 pm #

        You just prooved you are unfamiliar with the word ‘proof’. There are dictionaries online you know.

    • glasshill September 6, 2013 at 7:24 pm #

      I read Mrs Hall’s blog, and honestly just rolled my eyes and smiled. Her boys are still so young, there is so much they have yet to do, and experience. To carry on with such pride as she did about the superior moral fiber of her family seems to invite future hardships. Not that I wish that sort of thing on anyone, but it’s been my experience that people with a superior attitude about themselves and their children are completely unprepared when difficult things happen. And they will happen, no one gets through this life without hardship. Assuming that her strong moral fiber will somehow insulate her and her family sets her up for future struggles that she won’t be equipped to handle. I have three children, 16 & 20 year old girls, and an 18 year old boy, and I can tell you such pride will only come round to bite her in the arse. We have been through things that I never would have imagined, things I was sure my excellent parenting skills would have saved us from. They did not. I’ve had my pride kicked to the ground many times, and it’s only been through heart-breaking experiences that I was forced to realize that we’re all just human, kids and parents alike. As for the slut shaming, yet another topic I knew nothing about 10years ago, but got to know it way too well through my kids and their friends, I don’t think she has as much influence over her children as she thinks she does. Kids get SO much from other kids, from media, from everywhere other than their parents, and while It is extremely important to talk to your kids and be open to hearing them as they are, and not how you think them to be, you must also realize that as they get older they will get more and more from their identified peer group. The best we can do is to provide unconditional love and be open to listening to our children. They will make choices we do not agree with, and then you have to love the person and not like the choice. I feel sorry for Mrs Hall, such pride will only make her life more difficult later, if it hasn’t already, Narrow inflexible views are in someways easier, what’s right and what’s wrong is obvious, there’s identifiable ‘others’ that you will not become and are free to judge which also helps you feel superior, but this is fear based thinking. Easier yes, lazy even, but it generally does not serve you well overall. Will she perpetuate slut shaming, I don’t think so. She has a rigid set of values that, in my experience, make many things more difficult but I think her boys and and her family will bear the brunt of the difficulty. I could be completely wrong I realize.
      Thank you for writing this, it is with this kind of discourse that we take out our values and opinions and reexamine them and decide if changes need to be made,

    • southsidesocialist September 6, 2013 at 9:47 pm #

      Yes, there are dictionaries online. You can look up how to spell proved there.

    • izzy82 September 7, 2013 at 11:21 am #

      Well… if you refer to women as sluts, it doesn’t necessarily mean you hate women but it does make me wonder how much you’ve bought into society’s sexist views of women. Also, it’s okay to disagree with people but your point of view will be better received if you don’t ridicule them in the process by saying things like “the logic choo choo.”

  5. Babe_Chilla September 6, 2013 at 7:00 pm #

    This whole thing has gone really crazy and, I think what so many people are missing is, that those of us offended by what she said (and I am one of those) aren’t against the idea that our children and teens learn about modesty and appropriate sharing online. I think everyone agrees that, as parents and adults we need to better convey to our children the power of what they put online. I don’t necessarily think the only answer is teaching men how to behave and allowing teens to post things which should be saved for an adult relationship. I do however think that there is an awful double standard here.

    She also reduced her sons to a low level. She put them in the same group as what I would consider the worst group of men. And I don’t understand why she thinks she can give girls parenting advice when she clearly doesn’t even trust the way she’s raised her boys. I know a lot of men, friends, ex boyfriends, crushes, my husband, people I work with. And I can say I don’t find one of them to be so wrapped up in having seen me naked at some point, or braless on a vacation, or in my swim suit, that we cannot carry on normal life. We continue to interact today as we did before the time one accidentally walked in on me coming out of the shower. Because they are smart men, respectful men, men of character who, perhaps had a moment of “WHOA NAKED” but then immediately moved on. I have to think most men are this way. My husband has seen me in a lot of ways and we’re quite capable of discussion budgets, baby poop or his lack of interest in folding laundry without him thinking of me sexually.

    And so, I dislike her message. I think it says all the wrong things. It puts the onus on us as women to not only appear pure and modest, but to remain that way for the sake of her sons and men alike. It takes responsibility out of her as a mother and puts it on the mothers of those girls. And onto the girls themselves, who are not adults. It reduces men to the lowest common denominator, then blames women for not sinking to their level. It confuses the natural sexual instincts that arise in the teen years with an excuse not to exercise control over your body. It tells the wrong story. And it, as you says, leads to a bigger issue, which is to shame women for being women.

    I was a teen girl and, there were times I both used and had used against me my sexuality. We need to teach girls how these things can happen and what kind of men to be aware of, and teach boys how not to become the type of guy who has been excused for his behaviour because of “nature”. Girls and boys become sexual beings, and it’s up to each individual to learn what to do with that in a healthy way. And it’s up to us to teach them.

    And I wonder, when the family goes to the beach and they see a young adult women in a bikini, and one of the boys eyes wander, does Mrs Hall blame the women for wearing a bikini instead of recognizing her son’s natural interest in the opposite sex and teaching him ways to handle the rage of hormones inside his developing teen body?

    • xstarbuckx September 6, 2013 at 7:46 pm #

      I liked this comment as much as the post itself. Well said.

    • Cecilia September 6, 2013 at 7:51 pm #

      You expressed all of this so beautifully and insightfully – all the things that I’ve been thinking but haven’t been able to form into words.

    • kawb1011 September 12, 2013 at 10:32 pm #

      This is an excellent comment. I agree completely.

      In addition to everything you and the writer said, which is dead on, this woman is also sending the message to her sons that finding these girls attractive is wrong. Since attraction is largely unconscious, this is likely to create shame around their–perfectly natural!–reactions.

    • ken September 13, 2013 at 6:19 pm #

      I think there’s is some validity in all the points being made, including Ms. Hall’s. The sad fact is that some societies have chosen to go to extremes in both directions whether requiring their women to cover their bodies because men have their brains stuck in their zippers or allowing everyone to let everything hang out regardless of venue.

      Obvious to most of us, showing flesh at the beach is a no brainer. I’m all for nude beaches as long as those who go have the brains to understand that this is natural. It’s not an invitation to an orgy.

      Blaming the victim is wrong. Thinking that it’s okay for 12-16 year old girls to post sexy photos of themselves on the internet is also wrong; all you’re doing is inviting the predators into your home. Do the predators have the right to be predators? Not on underage people. Is it wrong to put a tripping hazard in front of a blind person? Why is posting sexy poses online any different when you know that there are sexual predators lurking?

      Get your empowered heads out of your vulnerable asses. I don’t want to feel bad for you when something bad happens. As long as girls want to be Miley Cyrus instead of someone useful or intelligent, this world will continue to be messed up. I understand the need to fit in, but you need to understand your responsibilities to yourself.

    • Frank Lee September 18, 2013 at 3:08 am #

      This kind of thing used to happen back in the day.. horny teenagers, alcohol, girl with low self-esteem – that’s a gangbang waiting to happen.

      Next day, everyone would nurse horrible hangovers and would go to school Monday, everyone a little embarrassed, but no real harm done.

      (Well, unless someone caught some std or got knocked up, of course)

      But nowadays – it’s crazy! Kids are all sexually active, and as usual, the girls compete for the boys, but competition is tough. And since everyone has a cell phone with a camera and a facebook account, a kid has to deal with a lot more than just the embarrassment of doing something dumb.

    • SusanMc October 1, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

      well said

  6. powerpuff September 6, 2013 at 8:00 pm #

    How about all the people STILL, a year later, posting slut-shaming comments, videos, etc about Amanda Todd on youtube and other sites? People’s opinion hasn’t changed and it’s extremely disheartening.

  7. Britt September 6, 2013 at 8:40 pm #

    Yes. And of course. And, well… yes. You are right right right. Except. How does one, with candor and love and good intent, express disappointment about the very poor judgement of posting these sorts of cringe-worthy pictures? Though our reactions to these silly selfies are clearly up for debate (and derision), I don’t think there’s a parent out there who is encouraging her daughter to post look-at-me-in-jammies pictures. Is it possible to discourage this sort of posting without fanning the flames of rape culture?

    • katewanders11 September 6, 2013 at 10:54 pm #

      I think we could engage a discussion on the why’s of the selfies. When i try this with my 14 year old stepdaughter, I am usually met with an ‘I don’t know, its just what people do’ or some variation on that theme. But we have the discussion anyway. I think many teens, and adults don’t think about the why, or the possible consequences, and having that discussion affirms personhood, doesn’t include judgement (unless you bring that to the table) and encourages thinking about how they fit into the world of other individuals, and examining their own motives. And can work whether your discussing someone else or their own actions.

  8. Mummy Kindness September 6, 2013 at 8:52 pm #

    I wholeheartedly agree with every word in your post. In my view we need to bring up a generation of feminist men who respect women and see beyond what they are or are not wearing. My children are very young but I want them to learn to see women (and be women) without judgement.

    If you haven’t seen it, I think you’ll like this post…

    http://natepyle.com/seeing-a-woman/

  9. AJ September 6, 2013 at 8:53 pm #

    I cant’ get that blog post out of my head. I was bothered by it on so many levels. I have two teenage sons and I’ve worked overtime to make sure that they don’t judge woman and girls on their looks. I’ve done a far from perfect job but the last thing I’ve ever needed to worry about is that they would see a picture of a girl on their facebook page and have that picture become the be all, end all of her existence.

    I’ve written extensively about rape in the military and I am very bothered by the subtle hints in Mrs. Hall’s blog that these girls are asking for trouble… the very defense to which most military lawyers turn when defending rapists. How easy would it be for her sons to believe that certain women are just asking for it? Do they know that no means no and that when a woman can’t speak for herself, that doesn’t mean yes?

    I was raised in a time where girls were taught that our own behavior determined whether or not we would be raped. I don’t want the next generation to be raised that way. It is dismaying to see it still happening. But I know that conversations like the ones we’re having here on your blog, or with friends on Facebook who posted the original piece, or the myriad of other spots all over the internet, are a part of how we change our society for the better. Thanks for being a part of positive change.

  10. bullet14 September 6, 2013 at 9:49 pm #

    I love your blogs/posts. They challenge me to think critically about everything I encounter and read between the lines. Much like ardenrr I find myself agreeing with some things I see/read at first… until someone shows me the other side. I guess part of the game is being open to another side in the first place.

    Thank you

  11. ana74x September 6, 2013 at 9:50 pm #

    What about the fact that she is reducing her sons to animals who haveno rresponsibility for their actions and thoughts? As a mother of three sons and one daughter I think it’s far more realistic to accept that they WILL see all sorts of images in every place imaginable, and teach them to see the person instead.

    • katewanders11 September 6, 2013 at 10:44 pm #

      Exactly, but even more, how is she teaching her sons to relate to all girls? not just view the selfie posting girls as objects, but so are the good girls, the ones who conform. They are all there simply to be good or bad, not complex individuals. She is setting her sons, and daughter, up for accepting both the good and bad girls as objects. The boys will see their future partners that way, their sister, even their mother. I think its more than seeing past the images to the person, I think this influence will negatively influence their relationships.

      • kawb1011 September 12, 2013 at 10:34 pm #

        I agree!

  12. Gunmetal Geisha September 6, 2013 at 11:43 pm #

    I’m kind of speechless, I agree with everything you say in this post, and of course, I had already read that lady’s post. I wonder if she has any idea of the insidious objectification of young-girls-being-young-girls that she is in fact propagating.

  13. loCAtek September 7, 2013 at 12:42 am #

    Well, if the teenage girls (AKA Sluts) parents aren’t monitoring their daughters social media pic posts; then someone has to do it. As for the male beach photos compared to the bedroom photos. One is considered appropriate for the public, the other is considered only appropriate in private; FYI there’s a difference.

    • katewanders11 September 7, 2013 at 1:22 am #

      Monitoring and shaming should not be synonymous. Mrs. Hall was not monitoring their posts, as if they were accountable to her, she is monitoring what her own children see, and teaching them to judge others.

  14. The Bumble Files September 7, 2013 at 2:40 am #

    What incredible insight you have. This is really powerful post.

  15. Simplexvita September 7, 2013 at 5:56 am #

    I agree with your entire post, those are certainly things that I thought too. It’s almost as though Mrs. Hall was labeling these girls (perhaps not intentionally) that put these pictures up.
    This is a favorite quote of that could fit into many aspects.
    “Labels are for filing. Labels are for clothing. Labels are not for people.”~Martina Navratilova

  16. Juniper September 7, 2013 at 7:46 am #

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I encounter this sort of attitude daily from my own mother, and never know how to vocalize why it bothers me. You’ve helped me understand how I could explain it in words.

  17. southsidesocialist September 7, 2013 at 9:13 am #

    She seems to have entirely forgotten that the Bible says “if your eye offends you, pluck it out.” It doesn’t say “if your eye offends you, ensure everybody else changes their behaviour rather than take any responsibility for yourself.”

    • Headless Unicorn Guy September 10, 2013 at 5:40 pm #

      The latter is called “Professional Weaker Brethren”, the Christianese version of “Tyranny of the Most Easily Offended.”

  18. angelathewriter87 September 7, 2013 at 11:47 am #

    What a fantastic response and so well put. Thank you for writing what I was thinking all along.

  19. Stephanie September 7, 2013 at 3:35 pm #

    Great post and totally right. I’m not hating on Mrs. Hall though. It’s obvious to me that she means well, despite being misguided. She thinks this is some kind of public service message that will help teenage girls see themselves as more than objects. I’m sure the term slut-shaming isn’t even in her lexicon. Basically, she has just completely bought into all the things everyone hears every single day about how men, particularly teenage men, are (little to no impulse control, sexually; only after one thing) and how it is the responsibility of girls/women to save men/boys from themselves.

    They are wrong things. But those ideas are all around us and it is so, so easy to let them permeate our views. You had a post a few weeks ago that I really loved about all the apologetic shit women say to not seem too extreme in their feminism and to fit in. I think everyone does it sometimes and it’s sad that they do, and I think it comes from the same place as this woman is, that place being our inescapable cultural landscape.

    I know there are assumptions about the sexes that I never even thought to question until I started reading writing like yours.

    My hope is that Mrs. Hall is coming from that place of just never really having thought about what her beliefs on these things really mean, and that the significant amount of backlash she has surely received is helping her and her loyal readers to reconsider some of their assumptions about where responsibility lies.

  20. Rosie September 7, 2013 at 7:04 pm #

    Reblogged this on FEMBORG.

  21. Humans Are Weird September 8, 2013 at 3:10 am #

    I’m feeling a little sick right now (the dreaded common flu), and so my patience for things that naturally irritate me is low. But fuck me, really?

    Why is it so hard for people to understand that by pigeon holing “real beauty” as something that necessarily ostracises one sort of beauty, regardless of the point that the said sort of beauty might very well be a contrived social manufacturing that’s ultimately kinda harmful to people’s well being, then… well, you’re being shit.

    Sorry for nonsensical sentence structure – I’ll blame it on the sick. But all this moralistic, self-righteous, good v bad, slut v angel shit is getting tiresome. And whatever to the article – people are shortsighted and unfathomably aloof; I get that. But the fact that it had such a favourable response? Eww. Eww. Ever so much eww.

    Bah! First my country elects satan, and now this. Now I feel like a hypocrite cause I dislike whinging. Eww to me. I need a shower. (Nice post, btw).

  22. anneboysen (@aftermillennial) September 13, 2013 at 12:39 am #

    I agree. And plus, the combination of many parents’ newfound taste for shaming teens online and the devastating effect these digital footprints could have for their future is the mix for a ticking bomb. http://www.afterthemillennials.com/2013/09/12/fyi-if-you-are-a-generation-x-mom-with-teenage-sons/

  23. Sharon 'Shazz' Nembhard September 13, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

    I am so disappointed with this article, it is not funny. We are now in a world that our daughters THINK that they have to become proactive to attract the attention of our sons instead of building character, self esteem and intellectual strength while waiting for their own personal encounter for a lifetime partner. Proactive to the extent they have been believing the advertisements and commercials that sex sells, provocative to the extent they believe it is cute to pose half nude in selfies to introduce the world to them, to have butt injections to attract our sons!!!. You attack a mother who wants her sons to focus on intellectual values instead of sexual values to build their peer groups and have the nerve to equate that with slut shaming and suicide? You would have been better off writing an article about slut behaviour among our daughters that propagates fighting and committing murder over our sons, that propagates twerking on video and posting to youtube, that propagates language on the internet that is so offensive and crude that we clearly as parents have a lot farther to go to teach our daughters how to have game! Come on sister, don’t denigrate a mother who is trying to teach her sons about the power of intellectual value ahead of sexual value…too many of our daughters are in the deluge of that flood of sexual value none can swim. I’ve watched girls just entering high school allowing boys to sit in their laps, lift boys off the ground, rub themselves over boys in the hallways to incite erections on penises that aren’t ready,..please don’t dare to use Rehtaeh’s tragedy or the tragedy of any other to make you point for it is flawed and you have just excused our many daughters who needed to be told to stop taking off your clothes to the global public. That was the simple message of Mrs. Hall and you have successfully clouded it.

    • katewanders11 September 14, 2013 at 12:43 am #

      I agree with your first point “We are now in a world that our daughters THINK that they have to become proactive to attract the attention of our sons instead of building character, self esteem and intellectual strength while waiting for their own personal encounter for a lifetime partner.”
      I think that all the conflicting and overwhelming negative influence that our girls receive is even more of a reason to be sympathetic to girls who are only doing their best to navigate it all. There is a difference between trying to: A-provide an alternative to the negative influence, B- judging girls for buying into that negative influence, and C- condoning its sex sells message. I could be wrong, but the message I got from your message is that you only see B&C in the world. And in rejecting C you must default to B. I think what our girls need most is A.

      Also, I think that aside from the message that the short shorts dad is conveying to his daughter, the difference is he is attempting to teach his own child his values by his actions, rather than Mrs. Hall judging other children for not measuring up to her values, and trying to teach her sons those values by restricting other’s actions.

  24. Sharon 'Shazz' Nembhard September 13, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

    Just to reinforce my point…here’s a Dad trying to get through to his daughter and will make a fool of himself to or die trying… http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/12/scott-mackintosh-dad-short-shorts_n_3912940.html?ref=topbar

  25. seth September 13, 2013 at 7:08 pm #

    Whatever idiot this Mrs. Hall is, she needs to be told she is an idiot. “Good” girls and “bad” girls don’t exist. They are simply girls. The BOYS need to act like MEN and behave with a degree of integrity and self-restraint. The BOYS need to get it through their heads that if a girl is intoxicated, it is THEIR responsibility as MEN to protect the girl and look out for her so she doesn’t hurt herself or get hurt. The BOYS need to act like MEN and treat the girls like LADIES, with courtesy and respect, and stop talking about them as “‘hos” or “sluts” or any of the other nicknames that they throw around in middle school nowadays. And this woman needs to get her head out of her ass and smell the coffee. Idiot.

  26. Amber September 13, 2013 at 11:08 pm #

    give me a break! You have totally put words into Mrs. Halls mouth and turned it ugly. We have all done it. Haven’t you ever deleted a facebook friend who posts negative things all the time? Or avoided closely socializing with someone who drops F bombs every second word? We all have a ‘moral compass’ or whatever you want to call it. I don’t go screaming at these people that they are horrible and wrong, I just avoid them. When I see them in public, I am still nice, and friendly, and I am not judging them, I just choose to surround myself with people that keep me in the happy place I want to be. That is all she is saying. You are reading WAY too much into it. If you are struggling to keep yourself morally clean, why would you keep images of scantily clad women on your computer? She didn’t tell her boys to be jerks to these girls, and not be friendly. She didn’t tell them to delete these girls from their lives, just from their computers. I would do the same thing if someone was bringing something into my home that I didn’t want. Bad language, immodest photos, I would delete all those posts from my facebook. I’m sad that I am not allowed to have standards.

  27. Charla J Schneider September 14, 2013 at 5:03 am #

    It’s not ok to cyber-bully anyone….including Mrs. Hall. I have a little one and a half year old girl and I would love her to know that there are other moms out there who are concerned for her as well – it takes a village.

    • Tara Paisley October 24, 2013 at 4:49 am #

      I did not see her as cyber bullying at all. She was not stalking their pages and telling them they were worthless over and over and over again. She wasn’t telling them that they should just kill themselves (as two GIRLS did to another girl just recently, and she did indeed commit suicide.) She did not share these pictures and say, “Look how these girls are dressing.”
      What I saw her as saying (and what I tell my daughters) is have enough RESPECT for yourself that you do not dress in such a manner. Or if you would not wear it to out to the store, school, etc, then you should not be taking a picture of yourself and posting it to facebook or instantgram, because that is what you are doing…. When you post to fb, you are basically wearing it for the whole world to see. I will continue with “You have good qualities….. you are sensitive, caring, social, smart…..” whatever I can use to build them up without them thinking that they need to use their bodies to attract boys. And boys that are only interested in your body do not make good boyfriends.
      And you better believe if I have *friends* that continuously post practically pornographic pictures, swear in every other post, etc. I WILL be either hiding them or out and out deleting them. You choose what to post and if I find it inappropriate, I will choose not to see it permanently.
      And for the record, I do not allow my son to run around naked either. He gets the same standards (modest dress, being careful what to post when we get to the age of facebook, etc) that the girls do.

  28. Craig Brazier September 21, 2013 at 11:36 pm #

    Here’s what I really don’t get. I’m a man. I’m a man born into a world at a time when feminist issues wasn’t even a blip on the radar. But I did live through Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, the advent of Ms. magazine, and countless other cultural touchstones that I really thought were going to change the world. The small ‘w’ world I live in anyway.

    What the hell happened? Yes, women have made strides. This is not Mad Men anymore. But I think what we’re seeing is a youth culture where not only peception of women by young men has taken three steps back, all decent social responsibility has taken three steps back.

    I know I sound like an old codger (I am), decrying the erosion of morals and standards. But that ain’t it. It’s what we teach our boys and young men.

    It’s corporate, folks. There’s no other answer. Public tastes and social norms have been formed for at least the last century by those who can afford to form them, and corporate America (and by proxy) the rest of the corporate world aren’t helping.

    A fine example is the excellent ad campaign by Unilever for their Dove product line that purported to raise the self-esteem of young women everywhere. I admit, I shed a tear or two when this campaign urged young women to be who they are. There are no ugly young girls.

    But as Deep Throat said, follow the money. Out of the very same pockets came the Axe body deoderant ads, where a young man could have a bevy of young cheerleaders simply by smelling like a new pair of leather shoes.

    This is what we have to deal with.

    So, where’s the outrage? I’m certainly not hearing it from young women, who should be wholly invested in this issue. And young men? Perfectly situated to maintain the status-quo, or roll the calendar back 20 or 30 years. Who doesn’t want to be the fucking top-dog?

    There are countless reasons beyond gender issues why we should be encouraging our young people to question what they see on televsion, the internet, and other forms of mass media whose success depends on pigeonholing their prospective clients. It makes their ‘metrics’ so much easier to deal with.

    Thirty-odd years ago, I really thought we were on the edge of a social revolution. I’m so sad it didn’t work out that way.

    Anne, I won’t assume the demographic of your readership, but if I were a betting man, I’d say they’re mostly young, smart and very aware females.

    So I want to say this to them. Some of you may be mothers. Some of you may choose to be mothers in the future. Teach your children, your sons and daughters, above all, to respect each other, regardless of gender, race, creed (I still don’t know what creed is, but….) . Teach them to realize if they see something from TV, the internet, whatever…. somebody is trying to sell them something. Tell them to do what feels right, because in their gut, they’ll know.

    • elizabethkhobson September 26, 2013 at 2:02 am #

      Fucking brilliant. I’m sharing that everywhere. Really important stuff to get out there. I’ll be writing about it soon too. It’s on my list!

  29. Matthew Chiglinsky September 26, 2013 at 4:11 am #

    Sluts are the real problem, not slut shaming. Get rid of sluts, and there will be no slut shaming.

    It’s much the same principle as drug addiction. If you stop using drugs, you will no longer need to worry about being addicted to an unhealthy behavior.

    The idea is to be healthy, not to pretend that an unhealthy behavior is acceptable.

    Anyone with common sense knows what modesty clothing is. It means you cover your legs, chest, stomach, back, and obviously your genitals, and you do it with loose clothing (not tight clothing that would reveal the shape of your genitals).

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  31. ObaMA February 24, 2014 at 12:52 am #

    I worry about the society and propaganda disseminating that barring your skin or imitating something sexually provocative, that’s responsible for prompting this behavior and nonchalant hookup culture in which girls are slut-shamed. Instead of just writing these young girls off, why not make an attempt to contact their parents? The school or PTA, or something, about how patriarchal values and aesthetics can be detrimental and ignite shaming as well as the implicit undertones of sexuality contained in what many young girls believe is simply innocuous?

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