I’ve seen this article posted a good 15-20 times in the last few days- The American Girl: Princess to Promiscuous…Why Our Daughters Are Having Sex. It has rubbed me the wrong way each time I’ve clicked it. (Yes, I continue to click it. I’m a glutton for punishment.) Anyway, the point of it is that if we make our daughters know the shame of whoredom early in life that they’ll feel like God is mad enough at them that they’ll never want to have sex. Not really. But close.
I completely understand the reasoning behind abstinence education. There is always value in encouraging young people to respect themselves and make wise decisions. However, articles such as the one linked above do little to achieve that. Because I spend 80% of my life (or more) totally immersed in the adolescent brain and the other 20% being a mother to young children, I felt like this bold statement on how to change harmful behaviors of children and teens was right up my alley.
Here’s a brief run-through of my problems with the logic in this article.
- I hate the insinuation that if a young girl shows an interest in boys during childhood, that she could be considered a lost cause in anyone’s mind. That’s far from fair. There is no science that connects early attraction to the company of males to teenage sexual activity in girls. Do we really want to assume our daughters are destined for promiscuity because they show an insignificant preference at 5 or 6? I’m giving my daughter more credit than that.
- This article hints that the typical 9th grade girl is having sex. I spend more time with 9th grade girls than most of the general public, and I’m here to tell you that is NOT true. Some of them may be sexually active, but I’d say the vast majority of them are more self and future centered than that. Do they love boys? Sure. Are they dramatic and impulsive? Yeah. But here are some other things they love: justice, music, softball, soccer, books, writing poetry, painting their nails, texting, laughing at silly jokes, seeing the latest movies… They’re going to be great doctors, writers, politicians, chefs, athletes…I could go on. My point is that when we assume that the typical freshman female is already sexually active and destroying her life with bad decisions, we’ve stereotyped and entire generation of women instead of appreciating and cheering for who they really are- the future. Our future. Give these girls a chance to make good decisions before you assume they’re all making bad ones.
- So, um, who selected that terrifying verse from Leviticus as one that might inspire young women to be Godly? Where’s Proverbs 31? Mary’s devotion to Jesus? Before we pick and choose verses from the Old Testament by which to live our lives, we should consider what else it encourages. Leviticus is a book of laws from thousands of year ago. Find a verse from a more relevant book to inspire change. Tell these young ladies what to BE instead of what NOT TO BE. Oh, and find a scripture that doesn’t say “whore” either.
- Where’s the article about the Promiscuous Prince? I mean, the Promiscuous Princess isn’t doing this alone is she? Who was around to shame the boy from the basement in the article? Is it only wise for girls to be pure? If you hear no other part of this post, hear this: It is a wise decision for TEENAGERS to abstain. Not just female teenagers. ALL TEENAGERS. So, if you’re going to choose a piece of the population to call out for bad behavior, let’s be sure you’re calling out everyone who participates. Slut shaming is a huge problem in American culture, and I believe that it begins with the well meaning attitudes represented in articles such as the one we’re discussing. Behavior that is ungodly or unwise is ungodly and unwise for everyone, not just for our daughters. And it takes two to tango. And what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. And I’m going to stop this now. In summation, instead of placing the responsibility of making good choices regarding sex solely on our daughters, we also need to make our sons the type of young men who respect women and make wise choices. That is just as important and essential as anything else the article mentioned.
- As a parent and a former teenage daughter to some great parents, I resent the indication that when young people make poor decisions of any kind, that it is the direct result of a parental failure. The article is based on the assumption that parents can prevent all bad decisions. Don’t get me wrong, good parenting can go a long way. But the sad truth is that even if we are textbook perfect parents, our children are still going to make mistakes — some bigger than others — and it is NOT our faults as parents. Articles such as the one above, that indicate we can prevent even the biggest of mistakes, accomplish nothing but scaring and overwhelming parents and slamming us with crippling guilt when we fail (and we will ALL fail sometime).How is that productive? All we can do is all we can do — and I suggest you do everything in your power — to influence our children to make good choices. And when they make mistakes? It’s a part of growing up which no one has avoided, so help them learn from it.
I know it means well, and we should do some of the things suggested, but we should consider these things because we love our daughters, not because we’re scared of their “natural whorish tendencies.” I look at my daughter and my son and want the very best for them. I want them to love Jesus and know He loves them – no matter their mistakes. I want them to know that family (blood or otherwise) is EVERYTHING. I want them raised in a church that teaches them love and tolerance and community. I want them to be surrounded by friends who know their true value. I want them busy with activities that are good for them and that they love doing. I want them to grow into adults who do something important and love life. And maybe the most important of all these aspirations: I want them to know that God and their momma are NEVER disgusted by them. They’re going to mess up, they’re going to fall short of God’s expectations, and they’re going to break my heart — maybe a few times. Because they’re human. And I think if we remember that and love our children by prayerfully, faithfully doing our very best by them, everything else will fall into place.