Didn’t think so. Most parents probably don’t dream of their daughter — or any girl they know — turning out like Lindsay Lohan or Paris Hilton. But we can’t just relax and hope things turn out for the best. We’ve got to fight back against a culture determined to turn elementary school girls into the next generation of sexy starlets.
There are things you can do even if you don’t have a daughter — in his article “Bimbo-Proof the Nursery,” Steve Almond comes at it from the right perspective, even if he’s a little crude. But it makes his point. I’ve never heard of him and I doubt he’s a Christian, but here’s what he says:
I’m also well aware of Madison Avenue’s efforts to market the slut image to an ever younger demographic, and the mass media’s decision to cover young, troubled party girls as if they were heads of state, and perhaps most terrifying of all, I’m aware of my own weakness for precisely this sort of depraved coverage.
The mall is a terrifying place for a new dad, because it offers a concentrated dose of all the cultural messages aimed at your daughter. It was at the mall that I first encountered a pair of moppets playing with a Bratz doll. How cute, I thought. Until I saw the doll’s ensemble: a miniskirt and a tight T-shirt emblazoned with the phrase So Many Boys, So Little Time. Next, I passed by Club Libby Lu, where prepubescent clients get makeovers and learn a sexy dance while a soundtrack offers helpful tips such as “Wet your lips and smile to the camera.”
See, this is what happens when you have a daughter. You start looking at the world around her and you start realizing how much of that world seems determined to turn her into a world-famous media slut. Then you start looking at the world-famous media sluts themselves and for the first time in your life, it occurs to you: Hey, that’s someone’s daughter! I wonder how her dad feels about that picture in which her boobs are hanging out for the world to see? And I wonder if her dad’s behavior in some way contributed to this boob hanging?
He talks about men’s inclination to check these women out — and it’s true. Guys like to look at half-dressed women. But since he’s become a dad, he has realized there’s no way he wants guys to look at his daughter like that. What he says is a great argument against both viewing and displaying provocative sexual behavior (immodesty, pornography, etc.):
The Dad Self has to worry about the survival of his wife and offspring. He regards women differently, especially if he has a daughter. Now he must think about the kind of world in which he’d like her to grow up, and especially how he’d like other males to treat her, which is to say not as a sexual chew toy, but with kindness and respect.
It’s here that my old Dude Self and my brand-new Dad Self come to blows. Because as much as I want to check out Paris and Lindsay, I know I’m harming my daughter by doing so. For one thing, I’m sending her a very clear message: Daddy loves sluts. Be a slut and Daddy will love you. And if you don’t believe that a 1-year-old picks up on messages, you’ve never seen my daughter in action. She is intensely focused on everything in her environment, especially whatever I happen to be looking at.
Now here’s where we all come in:
But even if I ogled Paris in private, I would still be contributing to the Culture of Paris, helping to shape a world in which young women win adulation for making porn videos and getting arrested, rather than for, say, curing cancer or brokering peace in the Middle East or being a mom. If we all stopped consuming celebrity scandals, they would cease to exist. If a media slut goes to jail and no one’s there to film the perp walk, does it really matter?
And his conclusion:
We newbie dads would be fools not to worry about the way this is trending. What is the cultural landscape going to look like in a dozen years, when my little girl is heading into adolescence? Can you see why a concerned father—even a socially liberal fellow like myself—might be tempted to declare martial law on his 1-year-old?
I want Josephine to grow up in a world where her ambitions will be about what she wants, not what the panting men of the world want from her. My daughter is not a commodity. Her heart can be broken. Her spirit can be wounded. And there is no accessory that can rescue her from these dangers.
Which brings me to rule number five, the only one I plan to enforce: Josephine can do anything she likes with her life, so long as she asks herself first: Is this behavior worthy of the love I deserve? If she flouts this rule, the failure will have been her parents’, not hers.
His conclusion is a little off — we don’t really deserve any love, and certainly not based on our behavior. But the general idea is right — girls are not commodities. They’re living, breathing human beings with never-dying souls. We won’t help them by waiting breathlessly for the next revelation about what they’ve done or worn (or not worn).
We’ll help them by living in light of the eternal grace of God. We probably won’t ever get a chance to tell Paris or Britney or Lindsay about that, but we sure can tell our kids and our friends. And then we can turn off the latest celebrity updates and focus on the antics of our own children. That should keep us plenty busy.
How our world looks on a Monday:
–All that stuff about there’s no “I” in team? You can’t mention that to this girl, who just happened to win a team title by herself.
–Priorities, priorities. Is it more important that you protect your beer or your child when you’re driving around?
–Enjoy shoes? You might be better off barefoot.
–A list of reality TV’s top 10 most memorable Christians — if you’re from Owensboro, you might know someone on this list. I actually checked this out to see if he was listed. And he is. Which number?
–A late Mother’s Day tip of the hat to moms — if you were paid what you’re worth in today’s job market, your annual salary would be almost $803,000. Here’s how your one job — mom — breaks down into 17 separate jobs, along with the average salary of each. Nice work, moms. Sorry we can’t pay you what you’re worth. (But, hey, you get to look at our hunky physiques every day, so that’s gotta count for something.)
a. Animal Caretaker $29,920 b. Chef $37,880 c. Computer Systems Analyst $72,230 d. Financial Manager $101,450 e. Food/Beverage Service Worker $19,360 f. General Office Clerk $25,200 g. Registered Nurse $59,730 h. Management Analyst $77,270 i. Child Care Worker $18,820 j. Housekeeper $18,700 k. Psychologist $66,110 l. Bus Driver $33,050 m. Elementary School Principal $79,200 n. Dietitian/Nutritionist $47,890 o. Property Manager $52,290 p. Social Worker $40,640 q. Recreation Worker $22,950 TOTAL $802,690
–For both parents, here’s a P.J. O’Rourke quote to use when your kids complain about something not being fair:
I have a 10 year old at home, and she is always saying, “That’s not fair.” When she says that, I say, “Honey, you’re cute; that’s not fair. Your family is pretty well off; that’s not fair. You were born in America; that’s not fair. Honey, you had better pray to God that things don’t start getting fair for you.”
And then occasionally take it a couple of steps further — as sinners, every day we’re not in hell is a day that isn’t fair. Christ dying on the cross isn’t fair either.
(HT: Joe Carter)
–Great story by Joe Posnanski about covering the 2000 Olympics and the unknown American wrestler who defeated a Russian juggernaut. Funny, inspiring, excellent writing. It’s long, but you’ll be glad you read it. He calls it his greatest day in sportswriting.
If you happen to be a writer, you’ll appreciate this gem of a quote about writer’s block:
People often ask me how I handle writer’s block — well knock on wood, thank my lucky stars, I’ve never had it. My thought about writer’s block is basically that my Dad worked in a factory almost his whole life, and he never had “factory block.” Sometimes the words don’t come as easily as others, but you do what you have to do.
If you have a baby boy, or have ever changed a baby boy’s diaper, you will fully appreciate this Huggies commercial. In fact, after you stop laughing, you’ll want to go buy a few packs of Huggies:
(HT: Joe Carter)
So last night Carter (3 years old) earned himself yet another spanking for disobeying/throwing a fit when he doesn’t get what he wants right away. He’s been racking them up the last few days. Here’s part of what went down:
Daddy: Carter, you’ve been disobeying a lot lately. You throw fits, you get upset, you hit people. I don’t know what your deal is. You need to obey Mommy and Daddy. God wants you to obey. Why do you think you’re disobeying so much?
Carter (with an earnest face): I don’t know. I don’t know what my deal is.
At which point, Daddy can’t keep from laughing. And then Carter laughs.
After order was restored, he still got the spanking. Crazy kid.
There’s a debate out there about blogs, particularly blogs in the sporting world. Traditional journalists often get upset about blogs; from their perspective, blogs are only done by morons sequestered in their mothers’ basements as they hastily post one uninformed opinion after another, clad only in underwear. What credentials do they have to write about sports? After all, they don’t have a press pass and they definitely haven’t been to journalism school.
Well, in some cases, these people are morons and they post inappropriate things. In other cases, they’re quite educated and successful and just happen to be using the medium of the Internet. Blogs themselves aren’t the problem — if you’re a bad blogger, no one will read you. The fault lies more in people’s resistance to change.
(Quoting a colleague about W.C. Heinz, a sportswriter in the ’40s): “In (Heinz’s) day, with multiple editions and lots of friendly competition, newspapers were the blog equivalents.”
This is really a great point, and one that just gets overlooked. There have always been blogs. What do we think Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” was? He wasn’t working for any mainstream media — there really wasn’t a mainstream media. It was a blog written long before the Internet. It was a published as a pamphlet and published anonymously — and James Chalmers … called him a “political quack.” You could certainly argue that Paine’s blog, more than any single work, spurred the Colonies to break from England.
What do we think Martin Luther’s “95 Theses“ was? A blog. Of course. There was no WordPress for him to post, so he nailed the 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg. The door, he found, was a better operating system than Vista.
It isn’t that I miss what people don’t like about the blogosphere. I get it. There are some dirty words out there. There are some rather embarrassing photographs. There are some nasty and unfair rips out there. Hey, I would love to see the tone lighten up a bit. I would love to see people enjoy sports more and scream less. But that’s not the blogosphere. That’s just America. It’s been that way for a long time. In 1975, people vented by throwing whiskey bottles at players and fighting on 10 cent beer night. Now, they write angry blogs.
Fabulous analogy, and great justification for blogging.
In connection with the previous post, here’s Rhett and Link’s Facebook Song. It’s funny and it makes a point — your online persona isn’t all there is to life, even on Facebook:
I say, Facebook. It’s an incredible tool — a “social utility” as they call it — for keeping in contact with your friends and family. It’s especially cool for finding people you haven’t seen or talked to in years — college friends, people from conferences, etc. You write on their walls, wait for them to write on yours, read about where they’re working and how many kids they have. (FYI: to get in touch with teenagers these days, don’t e-mail them. That’s old school. Facebook them. Or text message.)
You can make as much of it or as little of it as you want. You can show as much personality or as little as you want. You can add applications out the wazoo and annoy all your friends by inviting them all to do the same things you’ve done. (Ok, maybe that part’s not so great.) And pictures — you can upload pictures galore and eavesdrop on everyone else’s life by clicking through all their pictures. You can ask famous people to be your friend, and they might say yes. You can join lots of groups. (Here’s one for HBC’s missions conference. Here’s another one for the Edgewood Ski Retreat. Yes, it is ski-tastic.) You can even play online Scrabble — called Scrabulous — to your heart’s content. (Anyone who wants to play me, join the fun. Search for Benjamin Hoak.)
It’s a completely different animal than a blog (Xanga, WordPress, Blogger, etc.) Blogs let you ramble, expound, describe your day, tell how brilliant your kids are, talk about what’s going on in the world. Facebook lets you establish contact and makes it easy to check in every now and then. More than likely, after your initial rush of finding friends and saying hi, you won’t talk to them all that much. But — and this is important — you’ll know that you can talk to them if you want. Blogs and Facebook aren’t enemies — you can do both just fine. In fact, you can even set Facebook to update with your blog posts.
So in this brave new world, what issues do users face? Glad you asked:
–Facebook is a monitor of relationship status: How do you know your love is real? Check Facebook. Apparently for many college students, a relationship or breakup isn’t real until they see the little red heart indicating they’re in a relationship with someone (or a heart with a big crack showing that the relationship is broken beyond repair).
–The aforementioned hyperactive friends on Facebook? Here’s how to deal with them.
–Some people don’t like it when their parents join Facebook (anyone can join as long as they have an e-mail address), but others don’t care. It opens up a whole new dynamic that’s fascinating. Just Google “facebook parents” and you’ll get a ton of articles about it. These parents took advantage of it.
–Things get interesting when bosses and employees become friends. On that note, it’s not a good idea to plunk a bunch of pictures of your latest wild party on your profile. Potential employers are now Googling applicants and checking their Facebook sites. One article mentioned a principal (I think) who asked potential teachers if they had a Facebook site. If they answered yes, he’d reply, “Oh, I have a computer right here. Let’s pull it up.”
—Ten things you didn’t know about Facebook.
Facebook is like many things — it’s got enormous potential that you can use for good or evil. Act wisely, young jedis.
Two videos to start off today:
I’ve seen this in a couple of place the last week or so, but if you haven’t, be glad you don’t ride the subway in Japan (unless there are Japanese readers of this site I’m unaware of — if so, make yourself known, now!), especially if you don’t like people touching you. They hire oshiyas, or “pushers” to pack as many people as possible into the train cars:
And, Indiana Jones is back! The new movie, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull premieres on May 22. Sweetness. If you don’t get a bounce in your step when you hear that soundtrack, well, there’s not much anyone can do for you: