Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Child/Whore Complex.

So, I put an appeal out to Facebook friends for a subject to cover for RMRK. I got back this from my mother: "The parents that allow their teenage daughters to dress like a whore - then wonder why their children end up in bad situations."

My response was:

That's a double-edged sword. On the one hand, I applaud the parents who "let" their children express themselves and "allow" them to see the problematic culture at large who doesn't respond appropriately to an underdressed woman (the appropriate response is "leave them the fuck alone" - not, "oh let's rape that!") - but on the other hand I could see why utilizing sexuality as a child could be seen as a symptom of terrible self-esteem or the need for attention, because at a young enough age, sexual activity isn't a good idea. But either way, exploring your sexual power isn't inherently a problem, except that we don't live in a society that makes it a safe option. Dressing provocatively is just as problematic as dressing in traditional "punk" clothing. It isn't.

My mother then put forth: It is not appropriate for a child - if you are an adult it is your decision to take a risk. Seems to me there are more people with sexual disorders now than ever before - if they "can't help it" is it worth letting your child express themselves. There are other ways they can be themselves.

To which I replied: Well, the point at which I noted it was experimentation was the negation of your assertion that they're "being themselves" - they are not being themselves, they're experimenting: seeing how their behaviors and outward appearance can change the reactions they get from people. If you are an adult, you are less likely to experiment with your appearance and therefore probably more settled in your ways: if you still dress provocatively, then you obviously enjoy whatever attention you get from dressing that way, but your experimentation stage is over.

We have an erroneous idea that men have no control of their sex drives and need voraciously to rape: I think that's a lack of sexual education in the masses. If murderers can refrain from murdering, rapists can refrain from raping. Not every person who has the desire to rape, does.

Even if you had a rape compulsion, a percentage of those compulsory rapists could act out their inappropriate urges with a practitioner of BDSM who fetishized nonconsensual sex. Yes, there are rape fetishists; people who agree to a sexual situation beforehand wherein they are basically abducted and raped (often with a weapon, as authenticity is necessary for them to derive enjoyment from it). There are also "gang bangs" where people will allow a large number of people to "violate" them, and they are very happy about it. There are quite a few places that a rapist could theoretically sate their rape-need with someone who wouldn't be damaged for life as a result. If more rapists knew that, there would probably be fewer rape victims. And more happy fetishists. YKINMKBYKIOK. [your kink is not my kink but your kink is o-k]. Education, end stigmatization, fix. Kids should be able to experiment with things safely, and it's our job as parents to facilitate that, if the child so desires.

And above all, there shouldn't be a rapist apologist attitude toward culture. It's time to change how we look at sex, not how we can possibly avoid being thrust into a victim-sphere every time we walk out the door.

So let's bring this back to personal level: if Dahlia wanted to walk out the door half-dressed when she turned 13 (or younger, theoretically) - I would do two things; first, I would have a lengthy discussion with her about why she is dressing in such a way that is considered inappropriate. Is there an underlying problem? Does she feel powerless otherwise, and needs an easy way to get attention? Is she just seeing how people will treat her? Does she not think she's dressed inappropriately? Secondly, I would go with her, so I could help her process the reactions she's getting from the general public. In light of those two things, we would also have a discussion about whether or not she's prepared to act on the expectations that come with dressing in a very sexualized manner. If so, it's birth control time - if not, she'd better reconsider the rough time she'll incur through gaining a reputation for "being" a certain way.

It was at that point I realized I should have just written this in blog form. Childhood sexualization is something that always left me feeling very "icky" (I even wrote a piece when I was 16 called "Potty Dancing for Skank Pants" about, how, if your child does the impatient crotch-grabbing "potty dance" because they're begging for skintight snake-skin pants, they're too young for such things!) - on one hand, we should NOT find it acceptable to sexualize children - but on the other side, there is apparently a niche filled by sexualized children, and so easily. There is an underlying problem in our culture, and thrusting children into a sexual spotlight before puberty is so crazy. However, children should feel safe dressing in ways that mimic their parents and/or peers without fear of being violated as a result. Perhaps some dirty looks or name-calling could be reasonably expected... but rape is a punishment fit for NO crime. 

From near-birth children are inundated with sexualized messages; they idolize sexually-charged icons, get impossibly proportioned Barbie dolls, people call children of the opposite sex their "boy/girl friend," there's a very obvious and unnecessary sex divide wherein members of the opposite sex are mystified into complete obscurity toward each other, and the messages of a majority of tv shows, songs, and other bits of art and popular culture are about sex and/or relationships. Sex sells, and it sells because the culture buys.

For my last point, if there really were a victim component to using sexuality vis-a-vis attire to gain power, looking down on girls who dress provocatively should be a no-no. That's like blaming someone with a binge-eating disorder for their diabetes: you can't simultaneously call someone a "victim" and also blame them for their plight. Pick a side, and help make the world safer for kids, rather than just buying the old "well they can't help themselves!" excuse.

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