American Gothic

A blog post by a High Toned Christian Mom (“HTCM”) has ignited some heated discussion in the social media milieu. The gist of HTCM’s post was: “My teenage sons have been your friends since you were trudging around in your ‘Dora’ shirt and now your nipples are featured on Facebook. Put some freaking clothes on and read a book!”

(Okay, I added the “read a book” part, because I always add “Read a Book!!” when I’m chastising young folk. It’s super effective. They always run off to the library immediately.)

I pretty much agreed with HTCM’s basic thesis statement. Her tone and word choice would not necessarily be my word choice. “Praiseworthy” is not in my lingo. My family is not Christian, but we really like a lot of Christians. Last night, in fact, we were around a lot of Christian friends at a funeral and we bowed our heads with them and prayed to the Heavenly Father and celebrated the life of a great, giving man who happened to be a devout Christian. We’re fine with it. I don’t think the Heavenly Father got all confused when he received our prayers. When He pulled up our file and saw “Buddhist” stamped in red on the cover, I don’t think he turned to St. Peter and said, “So what? Did they convert all of a sudden? Again, can you PLEASE ‘cc’ me on these things?”

I am a Buddhist Feminist and I agreed with the High Toned Christian Mom. A lot of other people didn’t. Many people saw her post as “slut shaming”.

But what if it wasn’t?

What if she is just a parent raising kids who are lovely to be around, morally upright, giving and sincere?

What if her next blog is about (hypothetical) guy friends posting beer guzzling, pot-smoking, sexually-offensive-to-women images on their sites and reminding those boys that “nosy” parents like her are lurking (and might even tell on them…)? Maybe, in her NEXT post, she says to one hypothetical boy:

“Hey, Little Johnny from Little League, you look like a First String Asshole and I know you’re not! I used to drink wine with your mom while you pushed around Thomas and Percy in your footsie pajamas, chanting ‘Choo! choo, I’m a train!!’ Yes, I’ve known you for a long time and you are NOT a First String A-Hole. Stop acting like one! And read a book!!”

Maybe she truly wants all the young folk to pan back for a moment and check out the wide-angle shot of their lives. I hope that’s what she wants, because her tone does get creepily invasive and specific. You can see for yourself here:

Scarlet Letter

I REALLY hope she wasn’t directing the blog at real-life friends of her sons and I REALLY hope she doesn’t sit at the dinner table with her family and “judge” which women are virtuous enough for her blue-eyed, tow-headed, praiseworthy-thought-thinkin’ boys.

Some vehement critics of HTCM’s post believe (or pretend to….) that there’s no difference between an image of a young girl posed provocatively on her bed and an image of a young man at the beach in his swim trunks. One rebuttal insinuates that if HTCM has a problem with a teenage girl posing in her bedroom, back-arched, braless, then she’d better be sure there are no family-vacation-at-the-beach pictures hanging around her FB page, lest lecherous girls think impure thoughts about her sons.

“There’s no way we women can “unsee” that,” the critic snarked.

See where this rhetorical train goes? Next stop: Lameville. Choo! choo!

What I hope she’s trying to say is: grown-ups need to reserve the right to say, “Hey, Kaitlyn from Gymboree! Put some clothes on and stop looking at me like you’re looking for something unseemly (from me and your 987 FB friends), (and read a book!)” without being politically-corrected into quaint obsolescence.

Kids need to be reminded that they’re kids—and that we, the FAR-too-mature to post skin-saturated shots of ourselves to garner “Oooooh, you are soooooo beautiful!” confirmation from women and veiled double-entendres from married men—are still at the helm. We’re still, collectively, a stronger influence than YouTube and The Kardashians, and, as long as we butt in and (gently or strongly) re-direct, we may forestall the mutiny.

Meryl and Hilbad selfie

(Some selfies ARE better than others, btw…)

I’m thankful for the HTCM. Her piece struck a nerve on both sides of the abyss, and, think about it: take away the engaging discussion of politics, religion, culture and education, and what are we left with?

Nothing but a bunch of butts, boobs and beer bongs.