Social Norms

I work at a domestic/sexual violence agency and there’s an ongoing discussion in the field about how to stop violence and the role of people when it comes to community accountability.  There are also trainings around oppression and un-earned privilege. The following is an email I sent to my co-workers this morning. In it are links to articles that got me thinking, especially as a mother of a young boy and girl, about social norms, personal responsibility, how girls and women have been habitually viewed and the role of men in changing that going forward.

“I ran across an interesting string of blogs this morning that I thought I’d share. A mother of 3 boys wrote a letter on her blog to teenage girls about posting sexy self-portraits. Here’s a quote from her piece: “Did you know that once a male sees you in a state of undress, he can’t quickly un-see it? You don’t want our boys to only think of you in this sexual way, do you?”

Then I found a thoughtful response written by Rebecca Hains, a media studies professor, to the woman who wrote that letter to the girls. A quote from her: “She places the responsibility for her teenage boys’ sexual desires on teenage girls, rather than on the boys themselves.”

And, although not a direct response to the first link I included, here’s a blog post written from a father to his boy. A quote from him: “A lot of people will try and tell you that a woman should watch how she dresses so she doesn’t tempt you to look at her wrongly.  Here is what I will tell you.  It is a woman’s responsibility to dress herself in the morning.  It is your responsibility to look at her like a human being regardless of what she is wearing.”Nothing like a social media/social change discussion to jump start the week!

Michelle”