Monday, March 8, 2010

Getting Real - pt 2

Getting Real: Challenging the Sexualisation of Girls, edited by Melinda Tankard Reist

Last week I made a few general comments about this book, this week I want to share some of the things I have been thinking as a response to reading it:

Bigger Issues:
  • We need to keep trusting God. He is in control, he is sovereign and he also hates that girls are being sexualised by our culture. Instead of feeling overwhelmed or despairing, we must keep remembering that God cares for our children.
  • Do you know what the overarching question was that kept coming back to me as I read this book? Where are the parents? Why are parents not standing up to this, drawing boundaries around their children, refusing to allow certain things into the home, caring about their children and what they are exposed to? We need not be afraid to stand up for our children because no one else will, and because that is our job. We are their advocates in this world.

As mothers:

As mothers we need to be very careful how we portray ourselves to our daughters:
  • Do you spend a lot of time 'beautifying' yourself, rather than showing contentedness about your body
  • Do you talk about your body in a denigrating way, 'I hate my thighs', or worse 'pregnancy ruined my body'
  • Do you 'diet' rather than 'eat healthily'
  • Do you exercise to 'lost weight', or to be 'be healthy' / 'because you like it'
  • Do you have magazines around the house that focus on body image, beauty and gossip? Chances are they are not helping our own self-esteem, let along that of our daughters.

As fathers:

Fathers must play a crucial role, both in teaching their sons and daughters. My father was a wonderful example of this - he has two daughters. He told us we were wonderful, and beautiful, and clever and capable. He obviously loved us, he had great joy in our abilities academically and in sport, and he treated us as special women. He talked about his three lovely women and how much we meant to him. We knew, both in watching how Dad treated Mum, and how he treated us, that women deserved to be treated well & with respect, and that we should not put up with anything less.

Our sons:

Nicole made a very helpful comment about our sons with regard to this book:
But at times, I felt that some of the authors were assuming that girls were the only victims of the sex / pornography / industries - and that boys were only ever the perpetrators. As a mother of a boy (as well as two girls) I would hate to see my son grow up in a culture that was even more suspicious of and hostile to masculinity than it already is. (see her post)
I totally agree. I want my son to grow up loving & respecting women, knowing what real women look like, that sex is wonderful but for marriage, and that husbands and wives can truly love and delight in each other. And he is only going to learn that from us, from other Christians and from God's word. He is not going to learn it from anyone in the world. I suspect it is really here that fathers can play a crucial role.

Our daughters:

Most points from the other sections also flow over for daughters, however, here are a few extra thoughts.
  • What do you let your girls wear? Is the language/concept of modesty used in your home? Do your girls wear things you would never leave the house in?
  • Do you praise your daughter for her kind heart, her generous nature, her care of others, as well as telling her she looks pretty?
  • Read books that actually teach how to think about raising girls from a Christian perspective. I have read Girl Talk and 5 Conversations You Must have With Your Daughter and found both helpful in thinking through a number of these issues.

  • Do you even raise the issues with your children? As you drive past advertising - do you ask "Why does she need to wear a bikini to sell a Coke?" Or "Why does she need to lie on the car to tell people to buy it?" We are probably a few years off raising these things explicitly with our kids, so if you are doing so, I would love to hear how you do.
  • Do you have practical steps in place to protect your children at home? No TVs, computers, mobiles in bedrooms. Internet filters. Computers where adults can see them. Access to their Facebook & My Space pages.
  • What TV shows do you watch as a family? What do you let them watch? Do you talk about what they show says about people?
  • Complain when necessary. Contact the Advertising Standards Board when you see something inappropriate.
  • Have a look at the Kids Free 2B Kids website for more information

Any other thoughts?

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