Thursday, February 21, 2013

Dignity In The Digital Age

Oh, holy mother of God, sometimes I get freaked out about being the mother of two beautiful girls.  I love them so fiercely, and I want to protect them, obviously.  Sometimes it feels like I will need to move them to a remote cave in order to do that, though.

A woman I knew in High School has daughters who are now in Junior High... and she posted on FB about an ongoing problem amongst kids in that age group - sexting, and using smartphones to send nudie pics.

In Junior High (oh, my bad, now it's Middle School) girls are sending nude photos to their 'boyfriends'.  I wish I could talk to those girls, and tell them some things....

I wish I could make them understand that it's not about nakedness or shame, it's about respect.

 * Not about him respecting you, but about YOU respecting yourself.  Ever get the 'bad feeling' in the pit of your stomach?  That's your inner voice letting you know that you've compromised your dignity and let yourself down.  LISTEN.

I wish I could really get through to them that naked pictures are not about him admiring your body, or thinking you are beautiful.  It's not about THAT.

 *  It is easy to fall into the trap of being flattered that he wants to look at you -especially because the internet is rife with porn.  He can look at any manner of women/girls with a few keystrokes, but he wants to look at YOU.  Awww.  Honey, it's not like that.  It's a CONTROL MANEUVER.  He wants pictures of you
because he wants to know how far he can get you to go FOR HIM.  Don't be flattered... the little jerk just wants you to do it to validate HIM.  If you do it, he's puffed up like a peacock "Ha!  I'm the man... look what she'll do for me!"  Don't get me wrong - he and his five best friends will enjoy your contribution... but don't for a minute think that it's any kind of testament to you as a person.

I wish they would really stop and think about doing something they can never, ever undo.  In the digital age, it's not at all far-fetched to say that pictures are FOREVER.  And they are hard to control... they can easily be passed around in secret.

    *  "I trust him.  He wouldn't do that to me!"  All it takes is an insecure desire to impress a friend... or a drunken moment on an iPhone, and suddenly your body is a trophy.  Whether it's done out of spite, out of machismo, or a drunken mistake - now your body is no longer private.  All it takes is one little judgment lapse to turn your body into a detached tool of amusement, and your dignity into a punchline.  In the digital age, pictures are forever.  They can be saved here, there, and everywhere, passed on with the click of a mouse, and duplicated over and over and over, and there's not a damned thing you can do about it.  You can't stop it.

I wish I could make young girls understand what it took me years to figure out - your body is not a tool you can use to gain love, respect, or devotion.  Your body (and everything you do with it) is a gift to the one who ALREADY  loves you, respects you, and is devoted to you.  You won't gain those things by virtue of your body - if they're not already present, you're wasting your time and throwing away your dignity.

Gosh, it scares me.
I know these things now, but how on earth do I really make sure my daughters understand when the time comes?  How do I get them to see...?  We all have such big egos and think "It's different with us!" or "That won't happen to me!"  We do it all the time.

Young girls throwing away their dignity; whether it be on the floor of a random bedroom, in the back of a car, or via their smartphone makes me sad.  I didn't really know better... I didn't.  But I want my daughters to.

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