Body Image / Desire / evolutionary psychology / Feminism / Gender / media / Rape

FYI: You’re Not Helping

It’s #TBT and time for a vintage column. This originally went up in September of 2013.

Viral is as viral does. This week’s latest:

FYI (if you’re a teenage girl)

Cliff Notes version: a mother of teenage boys worries about the impact of teenage girls and their selfies on her sons. She encourages females to temper the sexiness of their “red carpet pose, the extra-arched back, and the sultry pout” in the Instagram pics they take in their rooms at night. With absolutely no irony, she posts a picture of her sons posing shirtless on the beach.

from the original post at Given Breath

from the original post at Given Breath

So,  Mrs. Hall, I have some thoughts for you.

Ahem. *dramatic throat clearing*


Dear Mrs. Hall,

FYI (you’re not helping)

I get that you want to look out for kids: yours and others. I get that it’s hard to navigate all this commercialized sexiness in the world- when literally every medium is shoving butts and boobs into your sons’ faces in order to sell products.

I get that you want girls to be valued for more than their attractiveness. I see that you are trying to tell young folks, whose frontal lobes may not yet be done developing, that there are long-term consequences of that late night bra-less Snapchat.

But your “FYI (if you’re a teenage girl)” is PROBLEMATIC…. LIKE WHOA.

First of all, it’s lazy and cowardly to preach to a sea of non-specific girls who are not your daughter instead of writing an open letter to your own sons that says the following:

  • There will always be things that lead you astray. It’s your responsibility to choose media that will foster your growth as a smart, thoughtful, compassionate person. It’s not for you to tell others what they can and can’t do with their social media.
  • Learn to take responsibility for yourself. If you desire to keep yourself “pure,” I support it. But it’s not my responsibility to stop eating ice cream because YOU are on a diet.
  • If you find someone attractive (or even sexy), that doesn’t diminish any other parts of them. It doesn’t make a girl less intelligent, less capable, less worthy of respect if her presence makes you feel sexual feelings.

Lots of cultures have tried to deal with the “issue” of young men’s libidos by making it the problem of young females.  It’s the idea behind everything from horribly uncomfortable chastity belts to requiring women to wear veils and rape prevention classes that are aimed only at girls.teen girl

It’s a long-held tradition that females are sexual gatekeepers, responsible for taming the wild beast that is the male. But that’s a really sexist and not useful belief- and it hurts people of all genders.

It implies boys are innately brutish, that masculinity is about domination, that boys are not capable of sensitivity or self-restraint. It not only lets boys off the hook for antisocial behavior, but it even encourages it as a rite of masculine passage.

And it tells a girl it’s her fault each time a boy catcalls her in the hallway, grabs at her body, pushes past her objections on a date. SHE should have done something different, she should have worn something more modest, been less sexy, (or as is often the source of most middle school sexual harassment ) not had breasts.

So, Mrs. Hall, while your boys are growing up and “waiting and hoping for women of character.” I suggest they become men of character and find out how to be friends with girls to whom they aren’t sexually attracted.  I suggest they learn how to be attracted to someone and still be respectful towards them. Because that is part of learning to be MEN of character.


Dr. Timaree


Questions? Comments? Violent reactions? Email or tweet @timaree_leigh See more at and

17 thoughts on “FYI: You’re Not Helping

  1. So who’s fault is it really?! I think both are guilty! When I say both, I mean the parents of the boys and of the girls. They are failing to raise their children with commen manners and respect! Kids today are mean, rude, selfish and disrepectful to everyone whom they are not friends with! Maybe if parents teach their children to say please and thank you and hold a door open for someone they don’t know instead of teaching them how to not give a damn about how they may make another person feel worthless and have no right to breathe their air. Before you start accusing the kids, take a look at who raised them and blame them!

  2. When did society decide that everyone does not need to take responsibility for their own actions?
    In my personal circle I have, time after time, watched parents bail their children out of problems by paying money, (in one case, 3 times in a year!) Parents today excuse their childrens actions by reasoning It wasn’t really their fault, someone else was to blame. Mothers who blame girls while holding her own kids blameless is not teaching them that actions have responsibilities The result is a generation of males who hold to the macho beer commercial stereotype that men can do whatever they want with impunity.

  3. I agree with this article and sex. I was wondering why male rapists use in their defence she asked for it, blame the woman’s clothing for her rape, or anything else that THE VICTIM did so it’s HER fault. Mom’s like Mrs. Hall seem to be one of the cause of men/or their lawyers making rape the women’s fault. Rape IS NOT caused by what a woman’s wearing even if she’s naked. Rape IS NOT caused by what a woman’s drinking unless it’s a date rape drug, Rape IS NOT caused by what a woman’s eating again unless she was slipped a date rape drug.

    Rape is caused by men forcing sex on a woman. IT IS NOT A WOMAN’S FAULT IF SHE’S DRUNK, WHAT SHE’S WEARING, I DON’T CARE IF SHE’S NAKED! Teach your sons to not rape! Tell your sons not to put drugs into girls drinks, so she can be raped. Teach your sons help a drunk girl home, and NOT rape her. Teach your son to be a gentleman and not a DICK. Teach your sons to not succum to peerpressure of others who may rape a woman. Report men who they know who have rapped!

  4. Another great post. One thing that I have loved is the EXPLOSION of responses that say, NO. No, you don’t get to go all slut-shaming on teenage girls; been there, done that, got the burka – and STILL get raped. No, you don’t get to absolve boys (and men) of responsibility for their thoughts and actions. No, you don’t get to post questionable pictures of your boys and husband (she apparently had some sexy shirtless pics of her husband, that she’s since taken down) while bagging on girls for (gasp!) not wearing a bra under their pj’s. No, you don’t get to say you’re loving and Christian and full of forgiveness while proclaiming “no second chances in our family.”

    I’m sure Ms. Hall is overwhelmed and then some about the response to what she thought was a kind and well-meant post. Part of me feels sorry for her, and part of me thinks she should’ve read that section of the book that says, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” Because she did, and woah, is she getting judged right back.

  5. You just owned this Doc and schooled this well meaning but grossly uninformed Mother …… Someday her daughter will be walking the halls of high school and then I think she will not only get your message but most certainly regret her message of today.
    Bam !! Well done you !!!

  6. This! One thousand times this! This is so similar to a comment I posted on Mrs Hall’s blog yesterday (which she did not post, go figure). Thank you for writing this, it is yet another of the excellent responses I have read to that silly FYI post since yesterday. Enough of telling women they are evil temptresses that make men behave badly. It’s been going on for oh… ten thousand years or so, perhaps it’s time to stop now. Grow up, men. You control the world, try controlling your own behavior too.

    Josh, ‘blame the parents’ is an easy out. Yes, of course parents have a huge influence on their children, but the modern world with its constant exposure to media, media, and more media, is also a huge influence on teens, along with peer pressure which can be amplified by that same media. It’s normal for teens to rebel a little or a lot as they work through those awkward years and build their identities. Even the best parenting can not always stand up to that type of outside influence.

  7. Thank you so much for this. Sadly, most people completely bypassed these important points in her post, which perpetuated the ‘virgin/whore’ complex our society has fostered for generations. As a mother of both sons and daughters I teach them both to be proud of their bodies, to never see themselves as objects of anything but respect and intelligence and worthiness as a whole person. The problem is that our society teaches girls that the ONLY thing they’re valued for is their sexuality, and when that backfires (because, as you mentioned boys are never held accountable or taught “don’t rape”) the girls are then publicly crucified for trying desperately to conform to what society has been telling them is the social norm. So thank you, again, for putting more eloquently what I, and many of my friends, were thinking about Mrs. Hall’s ridiculous post.

  8. Thank you for responding to that simplistic post. It made me ill at ease all day yesterday. Particularly since the poster has stopped letting answers through, once criticism started coming. Sadly, parents like these are part of the problem, not the solution, and there is also a great dishonesty in how not only the pictures but also the content of the post has been altered since yesterday.

  9. Pingback: Friday Sex Link Roundup | Sex with Timaree

  10. Just because a man is a man DOES NOT MEAN THAT HE WILL RAPE SOMEONE!!!!!! I am a 34 year old man who by im sure much to your surprise, have not raped someone and never will!! But with the way that most and by most I mean deathly close to 100% of women these days think is that every man is a rape threat. That is the way that man hating women have made them think!! It for some dumbass reason is cool to hate men now, which is very disappointing….

  11. I don’t entirely agree with either side of this. Obviously we need to teach boys to treat girls with respect and not to objectify them, regardless of their attire. On the other hand, girls can help by not teaching boys to objectify them and then complaining about it later when they do it. It’s not “slut shaming” or blaming the victim to suggest that girls might have some input into that process. The feedback these boys get from the girls is going to have enormously more impact on these boys than whatever their parents have to say about “keeping your mind pure” or whatever. We need to both teach boys to respect, and teach girls to demand it.

    • “On the other hand, girls can help by not teaching boys to objectify them and then complaining about it later when they do it. It’s not “slut shaming” or blaming the victim to suggest that girls might have some input into that process.”

      Um… yes, yes this is exactly slut shaming and victim blaming. Girls are allowed to be the keepers of their own sexual agency and power, and they should be free to express their sexuality in whatever way they want without the threat of violence from men. Obviously, it would be very rude and crass for a woman to walk right up naked to a man and shake her ass and naughty bits into his face, but a woman who did this wouldn’t in any way be responsible for a man’s decision to turn to violent sexual reprisal. Context, politeness, and gaining consent from all who are involved in a sexual display or act (including potential bystanders), are all important things, and we can talk about them all without blaming girls for “teaching boys to objectify them” as you have done.

  12. You said:
    “So, Mrs. Hall, while your boys are growing up and “waiting and hoping for women of character.” I suggest they find out how to be friends with girls to whom they aren’t sexually attracted.”

    This sounds like a great goal, but I don’t think teenagers have the maturity for this.
    I kind of agree with Billy Crystal’s character in When Harry Met Sally when he says, ” Men and women can’t be friends.”

  13. In response to those who leave comments about who’s fault or responsibility is it: you’re completely MISSING the point. Dr. Timaree is offering a balanced view to the argument Mrs. Hall made aganst the sexuality of young women. Mrs. Hall makes it clear basically that that “kind of behavior” is all on the girls her boys are exposed to through no fault of their own. Dr. T is simply saying these boys Mrs H is having to “protect” are being taught they dont need to be responsible nor respectful toward women who act in a sexual manner (even though society and media are the initiators of the idea that this is the way girls get attention). So, in essense, the real responsibility is on us. The ones who raise children to have a CLEAR understanding of this delicate dynamic. So there. Get your heads out of your asses, and use it to think critically and clearly.

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