Raising Our Sons and Daughters

7:32 PM

I had a very interesting talk with my teenage son last weekend. He was asking me about my personal views pertaining to a debate topic they will be having in school. The controversial topic: Do girls wearing sexy or provocative clothes deserve to be harassed? With an all-boy team and an all-girl team debating, I can only guess that this will be a heated debate and so it was.

The respective teams were of course directed to defend their side with all the knowledge and wisdom their young minds can muster. Although the lines they used do not necessarily reflect their personal opinion, the points they raised can be revealing of the prevailing culture and standards in our society. With this mind, let us consider the following:

The Boys' Side

As expected, the point that girls who wear provocative clothes are actually asking to be harassed was raised. Another point raised was that "good girls" should dress modestly. Other points raised pointed back to the first.

The Girls' Side

The girls emphasized their freedom to wear clothes they are comfortable in. They pointed out that they dress for themselves and not to call attention to themselves. All the rest pointed to the first as well.

My Say

I took the opportunity offered by our talk to impart some very important thoughts that I have as a parent to make sure that I raise my boy and young girl into responsible adults especially in relation to this issue.

1. Girls and women have the right to wear the clothes we want. For the benefit of my young daughter who needs to understand that rights are not absolute, I readily conceded that there are places and occasions that would require us to dress according to set standards as a form of respect for the rights of others. Without sounding too old-fashioned, girls and women can still look attractive and sexy without revealing too much skin.

2. Boys and men have no business judging girls and women by the clothes they wear. More so to conclude, that they are asking to be harassed or raped simply by wearing short dresses. And more importantly, not to decide to act on such presumption by actually carrying out the sexual harassment or rape.

3. Committing the horrendous act of violating girls and women is a decision arrived at by the perpetrator himself. He cannot blame it on the provocative dress worn by the woman. Society should not aid in passing the blame from the perpetrator to the victim by supporting the idea that women should dress appropriately to avoid being raped. It is a fact that many victims never dressed like "they were asking for it". Even if they did dress provocatively, that doesn't justify the act in any way.

That said, while it is true that we can never completely rid of the world of men and women who would sexually violate another, we can certainly start with making sure that we raise our sons and daughters to be good adults. Let us stop this nonsense about absolute freedom as well as victim-blaming. We have a pretty good idea of what constitutes right and wrong, let us try our best to raise our sons and daughters well so they will not be a burden to our society.

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