I first got the idea of making this blog when a friend posted this link on Facebook:
I was in the mood to read something that would make me angry, so I clicked on it. And, actually, I didn’t have a problem with most of the points on the list. I had a minor problem with the existence of the list itself, but it was mostly harmless. Except for the first point, which reads:
“1. If you choose to wear shirts that show off your boobs, you will attract boys. To be more specific, you will attract the kind of boys that like to look down girls’ shirts. If you want to date a guy who likes to look at other girls’ boobs and chase skirts, then great job; keep it up. If you don’t want to date a guy who ogles at the breasts of other women, then maybe you should stop offering your own breasts up for the ogling. All attention is not equal. You think you want attention, but you don’t. You want respect. All attention is not equal.”
I have a serious problem with this. Several, actually. First of all, what if you don’t want to “date a guy” at all? That doesn’t seem to be an option in the author’s universe. Second of all, who the fuck are you to tell these girls if they want “attention” or “respect”? Third of all, what makes you think that girls giving into the pressure of people telling them to dress modestly is better for their self-esteem and self-identity than them giving into the pressure of the media telling them to dress in revealing clothes? Fourth of all, WHAT THE FUCK. This is DANGEROUSLY close to telling girls that if they receive attention or contact that they do NOT want while they were dressed in this way, that they deserve it. To be clear, I don’t think that this is what the author intended, and she would probably not agree with that statement. But if you say something like that to a teen girl, and to ALL teenage girls, THAT IS WHAT YOU ARE SAYING.
The friend who posted this is several years older than me, and is an intelligent person who I respect and who I think I can have an intelligent conversation with, so I wrote out what I considered to be a toned-down response, reread it, and posted it. The responses from people who I knew were reasonable, suggesting that really, it’s the author’s wording more than her sentiment that I was taking issue with, which I think has some truth in it. I dropped it. I hate people who get into fights over shit like this on Facebook, and I am trying so hard not to be one of those people. Then someone who I do not know commented with, “Telling teenage girls the truth is a bad thing?” I didn’t respond. Neither did anyone else. BUT YES, RANDOM INTERNET PERSON. TELLING TEENAGE GIRLS YOUR WARPED PERCEPTION OF “TRUTH” THAT WILL LEAD THEM TO BELIEVE THAT THEIR CLOTHING CHOICES MAKE THEM RESPONSIBLE FOR OTHER PEOPLE’S BEHAVIOR TOWARDS THEM IS A BAD THING.
I have decided to make my own “Ten Things I Want To Tell Teenagers.” I hope there will be ten, at least. I’m making them up right now.
1) Dress however the fuck you want. Seriously. Your comfort is first. If you’re more comfortable fitting in with your peers, feel free to follow trends. If you’re more comfortable in clothes that cover you up, go for it. If you’re comfortable in clothes usually designated for the opposite gender, fucking rock that shit. Don’t let anyone tell you how you’re “supposed to” or “have to” dress. I mean, respect dress codes and consider other people’s comfort. For example, I am most comfortable not wearing a shirt, but not everyone wants to see that much of my body, and I try to be conscious of that.
2) Take responsibility for your actions. Especially when it comes to sexual decisions. There’s a lot of shit out there that will tell you that teenage boys are hormonal machines who can’t control themselves and that girls are passive beings who sex just kind of happens to. This is wrong. All of you are people. Real, live, almost-adult people. If someone does not want to have sex with you or kiss you or hold your hand or give you a high five, hormones are not an excuse to do it anyway. Talk to your partner about your wants and needs before you do anything. Proper communication about these things does not get taught. Romance doesn’t mean being able to read each other’s minds. Use your words.
3) You don’t have to know what you want to do for the rest of your life. Seriously. I for some reason keep watching Glee and the teacher keeps being all, “There are three seniors in Glee Club who don’t know what they want to do with their lives! This is a problem!” That’s not true. The rest of your life is a long fucking time. Feel free to be unsure.
4) Keep your options open. This kind of piggy-backs on the last one. You may not get into your top choice college. Or your second, or third, or tenth. You might end up somewhere better than you imagined. Or you might transfer. That is okay.
5) Fuck high school. If you have a great time or a terrible time, it doesn’t have to define the rest of your life.
6) Don’t get engaged to your high school sweetheart. During high school, that is. If you guys end up together forever, more power to you. But come on, guys. You’re gonna change a lot over the next few years. If you really believe you’re gonna be together forever, why rush the whole “marriage” thing?
I’m bored with this now. So, there. Six things I want to tell teenagers. And I guess “teenagers” really means “high schoolers who intend on going to college” in this case. But don’t worry, I have more things to say!
EDIT: I forgot the most obvious one, given the content of this post:
7) If anyone treats you in a way that you do not want to be treated based on how you’re dressed or how you act around other people, that is THEIR fault and not YOURS. There is nothing you can wear that means you were “asking for it.” The only way you can be “asking for it” is by literally using your words to ask for it without being coerced or manipulated. If you did not give consent to be touched and somebody touched you, that is not okay and not your fault. And, “But you have sex with everyone else!” does not mean that you have to have sex with the imaginary douchebag who’s saying that sentence I just made up.