My Soapbox

Posted on | May 21, 2010 | 14 Comments

I’m feeling crabby today.

I can’t decide if it’s because I haven’t slept in a few days or if I’m really just THIS annoyed about a song from 1962. And yeah, you read that right. I said 1962.

Today I had a deposition in Atlanta which is why I had no morning post to share with you. Last night I hit the bed hard and early and this morning I was out the door to face Atlanta traffic and a massive rain storm. Good times. I digress. There’s a radio station up there that actually plays what I consider “real” oldies. You know, the stuff that was called oldies when I was a kid… music from the 50s and 60s… not the 70s and 80s. So on my way back home I was happily jamming away when a song came on the radio.  The song?

Bobby’s Girl by Marci Blane.

I’ve heard the song before and never really thought twice about it but today? It bothered me. Let me see if I can explain why.

In 1962, women were still… precious. Is that the right word? Sure, we hadn’t quite gotten to the point where we could work outside the home without scorn and sure, we were mostly portrayed on television as wearing aprons and keeping house. But we were also portrayed as deserving respect and protection from the men around us. Now I wasn’t alive in 1962 so I don’t know that that is how it REALLY was, but that’s the picture that is painted by television in the 50s and 1962 was probably a little closer to the 50s than it was to the whole sexual revolution of the late 60s and 70s.

Since women didn’t do a lot of working outside the home, it’s no wonder that a song like “Bobby’s Girl” raced up the charts. In it, a girl is asked what she wants to be now that she’s “not a kid anymore.” Her answer? She just wants to be Bobby’s girl. That’s it. No life aspirations other than to be on some guy’s arm. A guy who, mind you, already has a girlfriend.

Maybe it’s a commentary on what was supposed to be important to women then? I don’t know. All I know is that since 1962 a lot has changed. Women actually work outside the home fairly regularly. There are men who *gasp* stay home and keep kids. The idea that a woman needs protection from men has not disappeared but the idea that she deserves respect somehow has.

And one thing that hasn’t changed? For some reason, despite feminism, women’s rights, technology, putting a man on the freaking moon, and countless other advances, for some strange reason… popular culture still seems to think that a girl’s best aspiration is to find a man.

Don’t get me wrong. I am happily married and happy to be married. But why is it that we’ve come so far and not far at all at the same time? In the 40s and 50s it was considered strange for a woman to not be married by her early 20s. Now? Women can be single well into their 30s before people start to say rude things. It’s acceptable for a woman to not have a man. Yet our culture still seems geared towards teaching young girls that their self worth depends entirely on how many men (or boys) they can either get to call them, text them, ogle them, or God forbid have sex with them.

And I’m sure this went on in the 40s and 50s, too. I’m sure it did. But it didn’t go on on television. It wasn’t in the movies. It wasn’t advertised on t-shirts and clothing lines. My son’s daycare teacher has 7 year old twins. Seven. One is a boy and one a girl. The little girl’s friends call the little boy and one left 25 messages on their answering machine when they were out of town.  TWENTY FIVE. And do you know what she wanted? To know if he liked her and wanted to kiss her.

She is seven.

I am all about feminism. Seriously. I think it’s important for a woman to take control of her body, mind, spirit and soul. I think women need to feel that they can accomplish anything a man can accomplish. But what I don’t think is that in order to establish equality, a woman needs to flaunt her sexuality and teach her children that to be respected they must assert themselves in a sexual manner.

Since when did being a strong, assertive woman equal being sexually active and wearing revealing clothing? Why did we come so far only to fall back into the same pattern? We were supposed to be fighting for equality but along the way we lost our self-respect. We lost that sense of mystery that women had for centuries. Nothing is a mystery any more. And as a result? Our kids are growing up faster and faster and faster.

There are seven year olds “going steady.”

There are middle school kids giving blow jobs in the back of classrooms.

There are more high school kids having sex than high school kids NOT having sex.

I just don’t get it. We worked for this. Our mothers and grandmothers worked so hard so that we could be lawyers and doctors and astronauts and well, anything! So that we could get the same education, have the same opportunities, make the same money that any man can make. And what did we do with that work? We took it for granted. We took their fight and we made it about sexual liberation. We made it not about saying “I am the same” but about saying “I can control you with my body.” We lost our self-respect and as a result we’ve lost the respect of the men around us. How can we expect the male race to respect us when they are too busy trying to determine if, yep, that is a 16 year old dressed like a hooker. And yep, she’s headed to school. And yep, all her classmates are dressed like that, too. It shouldn’t be about flaunting breasts and asses. It should be about flaunting our intelligence. Our wit. Our charm. Our sense of right and wrong. Our souls.

It’s no wonder that there are television shows about teen pregnancy. That’s the reality now. Teens are no longer sheltered from anything because instead of teaching our girls and boys that the opposite gender is worthy of respect and honor and to treat them with the same degree of love and care that we would want them to treat us, we are teaching them that there are no rules and no consequences. Get pregnant at 16? Hey, maybe you can be on TV and become semi-famous! MTV is holding casting calls so get knocked up fast.

*sigh* I know. I’m on a soapbox. But listening to that song just made me realize something so very sad. In 1962, teenage girls were told that all they needed to want to be was “Bobby’s Girl.” They weren’t supposed to really want anything more than that. They only “needed” to be on “Bobby’s” arm.  It’s been forty years since then. And what do we STILL seem to tell our teenage girls? Get a guy. Have a guy. Without a guy you’re useless. Do what you have to do to get him, okay? All’s fair in love and war.

You’d think we would have come a little farther than that by now.

Comments

14 Responses to “My Soapbox”

  1. ~*Jess*~
    May 21st, 2010 @ 6:27 pm

    This was a great soapbox to be on. With a 4 yr old girl you can imagine my shock and annoyance when she talks about her boyfriend. Seriously. A boy who is her friend. I desperately try to stress that. She doesn't watch anything more than Nick Jr. I didn't teach her. It scares me what her little buddies share at school.

    The fact that pregnancy is glamorized by MTV and party girls on Pretty Wild are embraced it's crap. Oh and that Barbie? Don't buy your kid "Secret Hearts" or some crap. Basically its about Barbie not having a date and getting a secret admirer. Book meet trash.

    All I can do as a mom is work my butt off to keep reminding her that she is brilliant and can do great things. Not because she is pretty and not because of a man. Sign.

  2. Steph
    May 21st, 2010 @ 6:46 pm

    This "Soapbox" hits really close to home for me. By the time I was a Senior I was the only one of a group of friends not pregnant. Two of them were on baby #2. Our highschool has a daycare in it. We also have an alternative school with a daycare. It started as a school for kids who couldn't mainstream. Now it's for girls with babies to fast track their diplomas. Every year since I graduated there are more and more and MORE girls pregnant. I always thought it was the small town mentality. We had nothing to do as teens here. We had parties in fields with kegs of beer and cattle, and they got knocked up. Of that group of girls only one is married to her baby's dad. One is divorced and the other two never got that far but they did both have two kids each with the same guy and one each with an entirely different guy they're no longer with.

    My husband comes from a big city and when he moved here he was shocked by this. So I just assumed it was a small town thing.

    I don't know if I'm comforted to know it's like this everywhere or if it just makes me even more sad.

    BTW, only one of those four girls went on to do something other than be a mom (not that there's ANYTHING wrong with just being a mom because I am a stay at home mom and love it), it's the same one that's married to her high school sweetheart. They have 4 kids and she just graduated nursing school.

  3. KLZ
    May 21st, 2010 @ 7:08 pm

    Alex has girls in his daycare class that he hugs. And everyone says "Do you have a girlfriend?" And I say "No. They're just friends."

    They are not even ONE. Infuriating. At least my family is with me on this.

  4. Dr. Mommy
    May 21st, 2010 @ 7:08 pm

    Here Here! the fact that we have come so far and we are still doing the same dance is saddening.

  5. Kim
    May 21st, 2010 @ 7:18 pm

    I struggle with this every day! With Violet being 7 and riding the bus with 5th graders I go back and forth between wanting to shelter her from the world and wanting her to grow up responsibly. So far we've done a fair job of sheltering her 🙂 and honestly? I prefer it that way! Yours is a grand soapbox!

  6. Nikki
    May 21st, 2010 @ 7:22 pm

    Is there enough room on your soapbox for me? Your not being crabby mama, your being for real. It makes me sick sometimes to see young girls portray themselves in such a manner. What's worse, parents who laugh at it, think it's cute and condone it. I hope I can teach my son to respect women, whether they ask for it or not.

  7. criticalcrass
    May 21st, 2010 @ 9:32 pm

    yeah. i didn't mind this soapbox at all. i like how we celebrate marriages and births by hosting bridal and baby showers. but if a thirty-something, successful woman buys a house, or man, for that matter…is there a shower for that? no. of course not. so that single individual has to fill that house with gadgets and furnishings on her/his own.

    i've heard time and again from friends and strangers alike about the push after graduating college and, hopefully, obtaining respectable employment of the push by peers…so when are you gonna get married? and when that happens? almost immediately after it's when are you gonna have a baby? what then? when are you gonna have another?

    we never seem to be satisfied with where we are. who we are. we always have to be more and better. and sometimes more and better is pitifully less.

    i'm one of those thirty-something single women, by the way. in fact, i'm closer to forty than thirty. and i've spent much of this decade feeling a failure because i am single. because i never learned how to revel in it.

  8. criticalcrass
    May 21st, 2010 @ 9:37 pm

    heh. so i wrote this:

    …if a thirty-something, successful woman buys a house, or man, for that matter…

    just to make sure that gets read correctly…i mean that if a man buys a house, not a woman buys a man.

    have a great day!

  9. Lo
    May 21st, 2010 @ 11:14 pm

    When my 10 year old was in Kindergarten there was a girl who kept calling him and trying to kiss him and wanted him to be her "boyfriend." It made him uncomfortable, so I told him to say that he's not allowed to have a girlfriend until he's 12. Now's he's 10 and I'm wishing I'd said 16!!!

  10. Mimi
    May 22nd, 2010 @ 12:41 am

    What a fantastic post. As the mother of 2 teenage boys, I marvel at what passes for teenaged girls clothing these days!

    Hi Donna,

    Here is the link for my post for The Bridegrooms. I really enjoyed this book.

    http://screamingmimitoo.blogspot.com/2010/05/bridegrooms-review-giveaway.html

    I also posted the review to Amazon.com.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/A1RH22NJUATNUY/ref=cm_cr_dp_pdp

    Let me know if you have any questions or comments. I look forward to reviewing more books for you.

    Have a great day,

    Pam Hoerauf

    My Personal Blog ~ http://www.ScreamingMimiBlog.com
    Oskar's Blog ~ http://www.OskarsBlog.com

  11. ARob
    May 22nd, 2010 @ 2:58 am

    Hi! I am really enjoying your blog. Would you consider a full feed so I can read on google reader? Just a suggestion. Thanks!

  12. Law Momma
    May 22nd, 2010 @ 12:12 pm

    ARob: Done! I didn't know it was on the short feed!

  13. Anonymous
    May 22nd, 2010 @ 2:01 pm

    Well said. Consider the difference between TV's role model for women in the 1950's and TV's role model for women 50 years later. This is not moving forward.

  14. ~*Jess*~
    May 22nd, 2010 @ 2:15 pm

    Ditto, thanks for the long feed! I thought it was just my reader.

    I'm with Steph: I think a lot of this goes with the mentality of the community. In smaller cities/towns I think it's widely accepted and just becomes the norm. It's not balked at. I'm from El Paso and the teen pregnancy rate is outrageous. I worked at county hospital in high school and there were girls as young as 12! TWELVE!!! It's really sad when a community becomes acceptant of something that should be changed.

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    Spilled Milk (and Other Atrocities) by Law Momma is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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