When the Wolf Whistles Stop
I admit, when the wolf whistles stopped, it made me a little sad.
Even though I knew that being whistled at by some passing guy wasn’t anywhere near the measure of my worth, I had been brainwashed by society and maybe my upbringing to think it was important that my appearance draw positive attention.
Dudes – we need to stop this culture. It makes me so sad when I see Facebook friends post pictures of their pre-teen or teenage daughters and the responses say things like, “She’s beautiful. She’ll be trouble.” Why does a pleasing arrangement of features automatically equal rebellion, trickery or seduction to some people? What if that daughter is raised with conservative values and has a whole hell of a lot of common sense? What if she has morals? Just because she’s beautiful doesn’t mean she will say yes to lecherous men, but your comment will certainly encourage those lechers to lech.
It is so counter productive to the current women’s movement. We can’t expect men to stop wanting to grab us by the pussy if WE are commenting that beautiful young girls are gonna be trouble. Women – no, ALL people, should be making a conscious effort to change the way they respond to an attractive person. All I ask is that you don’t make their appearance the focal point. Comment on how much they’ve grown up. If you know them personally and they have a favorite trait, highlight that. “And a wicked sense of humor to boot!” Or just say, “Lovely.”
One thing you should know about me is that I’m pretty obsessive about ‘checking my work’ to make sure the things I claim are actually the way I represent myself in the world. So I just texted my daughter and asked (randomly, out of the blue for her) “If you had to guess, what traits would you think I admire most about you?” The poor confused young woman replied, “Uhhhh my independence?” To which I made matters worse by confirming, “Good. So just to be clear, you didn’t first think I valued your beauty above all else.” I can only imagine her shaking her head and laughing at this point. “Haha, uh no?” So, just to be absolutely sure I asked, “And do you know that I think you’re beautiful?” And her response was, “Yes. But I wouldn’t think that would be the first thing that comes to your mind when describing me.” –So, yay! I passed that test. And also, phew! I didn’t start this parenting journey with the intent on making sure my children didn’t focus on their appearance. It might have developed after the wolf whistling stopped, I don’t know. I just know that it was well into the journey that I thought, “Wait. I don’t want them to get to my age and battle the same demons I’m battling. Why should they have to spend any energy teaching themselves later in life that what they look like isn’t among their most important traits?” And see how it wasn’t too late to impart that knowledge on my daughter?
Of course this holds true for our sons, nephews, husbands, fathers, etc, also. “Isn’t he a heartbreaker?” “Those good looks will sure open doors.” How about his skill at crafting metal or solving problems? What about his intellegence? All the years he invested in an education? Why don’t we highlight those instead of his high cheekbones and ability to make girls swoon?
Compliments are fun. They make us feel good. I’m not suggesting we don’t appreciate an attractive person. All I’m asking is that we think about the message we send by our appreciation and that we lean toward highlighting personality traits and intellegence before beauty. And that we NEVER, ever give that beauty power over others, or give others power over that beauty. That is no longer acceptable.