Category Archives: Family

Jennifer, Iggy, Beyonce – Please Don’t Be My Daughter’s Role Model

Recently, Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea released a video for the song cleverly named “Booty”. It was viewed on Youtube over 20 million times within two days of being posted.

I won’t link the video, but here is the synopsis: Two grown women dance in swimsuits and underwear while the camera focuses and pans across their butts, bellies, and other body parts. There is limited screen time for the women’s faces but that is overshadowed by the body shots and the slapping and caressing associated with those shots.

Here is the problem that I have with the video: it is bad for girls and women, not to mention boys and men.

There is an on going battle for women to be treated with more respect, to be seen for more than just their bodies, to not be ashamed of their shape and size. In addition we have campaigns to end sex crimes against women and to save women in sex trafficking. We are trying to change the attitudes and social stigmas surrounding rape – and how we approach preventing it. In general we are pushing for society to stop treating women as meat or the property of others.

All of these ideas I am more than in favor of. I may not agree with every one of the claims or actions of the various campaigns and groups, but I agree that women in our society are not being treated appropriately and that things need to change.

Lately I’ve been feeling like we have been making some headway in improving how women are treated. But my hopes have been greatly damaged by several recent events – this video by Iggy and Jennifer being paramount amongst them.

Think I am being a prude, or passing judgment on a couple of “proud, powerful, independent women”? Well lets take a look at the lyrics:

The way she twerk it, not fair

She got a booty, that’ll swallow a thong

I wanna take that big ‘ol booty shopping at the mall

The entire song is similar, using the word “Booty” 35 times and the word “big” 45 times to describe that booty

But wait, there is more. Remember, we want women to be treated with respect right? We want men to stop looking at women as meat right?

How will we ever accomplish that when two of the most powerful women in music, strip down, slap each other’s butts, and sing:

All the sexy girls in the party

Go and grab a man, bring him to the dance floor

Go on let them jeans touch you while you’re dancing

It’s his birthday, give him what he ask for

What is the message here? What are we telling women and especially girls? We are telling them they are meat! We are telling them to take their “big booty”, grab some random dude, and let him touch them on the dance floor. And why are we doing this? BECAUSE IT’S HIS “BIRTHDAY”?

And how is this message going to affect the attitudes of males? Boys who are trying to figure out how to be men are now thinking: “hey, let me touch you. You should give me what I want, because it’s my birthday”. Jennifer and Iggy say that’s the way it should be. How is a teenage girl, or boy, supposed to argue with them? Iggy and Jennifer are powerful, proud, independent women – right? They are famous, they get 20 million views and tons of money and are given awards on the TV.

Beyond what is said in the video, what is done in the video has a similar message. A 45 year old woman and a 24 year old woman (remember: rich, famous, celebrities) spend 4 minutes half naked rubbing, shaking, caressing, slapping, and teasing for the viewer. If this is what is needed to be popular and loved (something most people, especially young women, want) then why not just make your own video? You’ve got a camera phone and Youtube. In a matter of minutes you could make your own Booty video and share it for the world to see.

Part of the reason all of this this is bothering me is because I recently spent a couple of days in Vegas. Anyone who has been there knows that a quick walk down the strip reveals dozens of instances of women being used for their bodies.

I also, recently, had to listen to several pre-teen girls sing the impressive Niki Manaj lyrics:

My Anaconda don’t…

My Anaconda don’t…

My Anaconda don’t want none unless you got buns hun

These girls, who have not yet even begun to develop the features of a mature female, are already being taught by Niki that they need to have a certain body type to be desirable to men. (And in this case, men that deal drugs, and who expect certain sexual favors). Beyond that they are being taught that the only thing they have to offer the world is their bodies and nothing more.

But the biggest reason that this is bothering me right now, is that we just found out we are having a baby girl. This will be our first daughter. I am very excited and a little terrified at the same time.

I hope I am able to explain to her that regardless of what rich-and-famous people tell her she does not have to follow their lead.

    • She does not have to shake her butt for others (Iggy and Jennifer)
    • She does not have to “give him what he asks for” (Iggy and Jennifer)
    • She does not have to worry about how “sexy” her “booty” is (Jennifer, Iggy,Niki)
    • She does not have to swing naked from construction equipment (Miley)
    • She does not have to crawl around on the beach mostly nude (Beyonce)
    • She does not have to bring her friends to her man’s office to dance for him (Beyonce)
    • She does not have to grind with other women for men to enjoy (Niki)

I will also try to explain to her that she doesn’t have to be skinny, and tone, and have big boobs, and, apparently, also maintain a big butt at the same time.

I will explain that a famous, rich, insecure, exhibitionist woman should not have any bearing on her ideals or self worth.

I will explain to her that her worth isn’t found in her body, or her sexiness, or her brain, or “who she is on the inside”. No I will teach her that her value is found in her as a whole person. Not parts of a person. Not in the eyes or opinions of others. But in her entire self and in her ever growing potential.

But yet, I am worried that I might not even be heard.

How can I be heard over the constant pressure of “powerful, independent women” like these famous celebrities?

I haven’t even dipped into the lyrics and videos produced by the male populace of the entertainment world. I can’t yet fathom how to approach that ludicrous situation.

I support ladies being treated better by men. I really want to see that happen. But how are we going to make any headway when celebrity women are sending the exact opposite message?  How can we expect better of the male celebrities? How can we possibly hope for change? How can young girls know that their worth isn’t found in their booty when the trending topic on their Facebook page is exactly “J-Lo Booty”?

How are young men supposed to know that women aren’t objects, that their value isn’t found in their sexuuality, and that the girls they associate with don’t owe them anything, when the “sex symbols” of our society are acting like objects, claiming value through sexuality, and saying that men should get what they want?

I suppose if we want our society to include the regular use of rape underwear, and rape bras, and rape fingernail polish, then we can just stay on the same path we currently travel. Because the messages we are sending young men and young women are completely inline with promoting a highly sexualized youth environment where the women are here to just give the men what they want.

I have to hold back the vomit every time I think about even a remote possibility of having to take my daughter shopping for her first pair of anti-rape panties.

I refuse to accept that as our future. I refuse to sit back and let my daughter be torn down by the celebrities that our society worships. I refuse to let society teach my sons that girls are here for their enjoyment.

And so, to “J-lo”, and Iggy, and Beyonce, and Miley, and Niki and so many others I have one thing to say: I hope you will never be my daughter’s role model.

I hope that she is able to look at you with compassion, but also understand that what you are promoting is neither right nor good.

I hope that she realizes that she is is an actual person who is glorious and amazing just the way she is.

I hope that she will understand that she can do and be anything she wants, that her dreams and desires can come true.

I hope that she realizes that a man who really has the potential to love her will respect her, not pressure her; he will show her kindness, not indecency; and he will only expect the same in return.

And above all I hope that she will ignore those who tell her otherwise. Even if they say it with a catchy beat.

Motherhood’s Not For Sissies

I’ve been playing Mommy for the past week while my wife is playing Mommy for her best friend’s kids, and let me tell you, Motherhood’s not for sissies.  Anyone that thinks being a mom is easy, has never been a mom or walked in mom’s shoes, that’s for sure.  It’s not an easy gig, and that’s why sissies can’t be moms.

My wife is the best and strongest they come.  And this past week, she’s taken a break from being mom to my children so she can be mom to her best friend’s.  Their oldest son has fought a battle with cancer and won. But he had to have a very large tumor removed this week, so my wife answered the call.  While they had surgery and he’s recovering, my wife is taking care of all the other kids.  Definitely not a vacation to see her best friend.

So while my beautiful wife is away, I have been playing Mommy to my own kids.  And here are some of the things (only some) I’ve observed and why I don’t think sissies could be mommies.

First and foremost, when you’re a mom, everything else comes first before you.  It doesn’t matter if you haven’t showered for three days, when a child needs something, you attend to it.  Why?  Because you soon realize that it takes far less energy to deal with it right away than it does to put it off for even a minute.  In the world of kids, things are exponential.  Boy have I learned that.

When I come home from my day job, it’s easy for me to say “Just a minute” to my kids, and honestly, I never see the difference.  That’s just the normal way it is.  But since I’ve been home all the time, I can see it.  Call it my Mom Goggles.  But I can see it now.  Just taking care if it right away is so much easier, and guess what.  The kids actually appreciate it.

Second, there’s always something to do, always something that is waiting to be done.  You can’t really take a break.  If you sit down to just take a minute for yourself, there’s really no rest in it because you’re always thinking about all the things you still need to accomplish.  When you go to bed, it’s not to get some sleep.  It’s to re-energize the batteries so you have enough for the next day.  You don’t feel like the day was accomplished because you go to bed thinking about all the things that still didn’t get done.  You just do it because that’s what moms do.

And finally, I’ve learned why moms love their kids so much and why kids love their moms so much.  When you serve someone so selflessly, you can’t help but love them.  It’s impossible not to grow deeper and deeper in love with these beautiful souls.  They fight, they scream, they cry, they make messes, but they love and smile and dream.  Their kisses taste sweeter and their hugs are warmer.  They appreciate everything you do for them, even if they don’t or can’t say it.  You just know.  You see it in their faces.

Motherhood’s not for sissies, but after getting to play Mommy all week, I’d do it in a heartbeat.  If I could convince my wife to give it up and let me stay home, there’d be no way I’d pass it up.  It’s so fulfilling, so amazing, so wonderful.  There really aren’t words sufficient to describe how truly phenomenal being a mom really is.

To the moms out there all over the world, even those who can’t have children but are moms just the same, you’re my heroes.  You inspire me, you amaze me, and you touch my heart deeply.  Words cannot express the respect and admiration I have for you.  To my dear sweet wife, the mother of my children, to my mom and my grandmas, I love you all with all my heart.  Thank you for everything you’ve done for me and do for me and will do for me (because I know you’ll never stop, no matter what, no matter when, no matter why).  Happy Mother’s Day!  You deserve more than just one holiday.

(image courtesy of Erik Kastner, flickr.com)

Protect your family from unsafe apps

We’ve all seen dozens of articles posted about apps that can jeopardize the safety of your children. Now you’re informed and you can fix the problem. Now you can monitor them like the Gestapo. That should be great for your relationship.

Right?

Wrong. After you read an article that tells you about the dangers of these Apps (almost always messaging or social types) it’s hard to know what to do. Here’s some practical ways to help your kids stay safe.

Lock down the phone, tablet, or iPod
This isn’t about trusting your child, it’s about protecting them. Especially if your child has a device at a young age (or access to a device). Sites you might think are benign are not. Many of those hilarious memes, and gifs that we love so much are hosted on a very popular site called IMGUR? There’s some really funny stuff on there! There are also galleries dedicated to pornography both animated gifs (clips from videos) and still images. IMGUR is available in any web browser, mobile or otherwise. What about Youtube? Youtube is awesome, right?! It is. I love it. Youtube also has porn, even though it’s supposed to be against the terms of service. Any site that has user generated content will have pornography at some point, at least until it can be reported and removed.

For a moment, lets say that you think it’s OK for your children to view pornography (it’s not, seriously). We’ll leave that alone for now. Anonymous messaging apps are wildly popular, however, they have three huge drawbacks: predators, sexting (posting explicit content of a minor is a felony) and bullying. If you think any of those things are OK, please get help.

How to lock down a phone

  1. Make sure the phone is associated with YOUR account and not your child’s, otherwise any “locks” can be circumvented. If you have an Android device and it is registered to your child’s account they can visit the Google Play store in any browser, on any computer or device and install any app they want.

  2. For Android users, set content filtering to the appropriate level and password protect it. This prevents apps that are accurately categorized from being installed. Realize that many apps are not properly categorized.

  3. Get an app locker (here’s another), this will require a password to use locked apps. It also prevents anyone from removing applocker without the password unless they do a factory reset and wipe the device. You also want one that will lock an app as soon as it is installed. This prevents “side loading” where the app is downloaded on a computer and then transferred to the device.

  4. Use the app locker to lock the app store/Google play store – this will prevent your child from installing apps without talking to you about it first. If you unlock it because they told you they wanted to get an Angry Birds game and then they walk away with the unlocked device, you’re doing it wrong. Ask what app they want. Install it for them. Close down the app store so that it is locked again before returning the device.

Browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer) are a big deal
Many apps also have a browser based presence. This means that they can be used on any device without installing the app. You just need a browser. So even if a device is locked down, you should also consider installing a filter on your computer and putting it in a high traffic area of your home. Continue reading Protect your family from unsafe apps

Teach Your Children to Fight

The other night my husband and I overheard two of our daughters arguing.

My 7 year old said: Evette, why didn’t you want to play with me?Evette (age 4) replied: I didn’t want to play with you because you kept pushing me, and I didn’t like that.
7yo: I’m sorry I pushed you. I was just playing.
4yo: It’s okay.

My husband turned to me with an expression of bemusement on his face and said, “Did they just work that out by themselves?” We were shocked.

This situation with my girls does not happen very often. Usually there is crying, screaming, and door slamming, but they are learning how to fight more effectively.

Before I was a parent, I had visions of my sweet children always helping each other, always playing together, and never fighting. There was never going to be contention in my home. I was very judgy of other families. Those who had contention in their homes with their children were not parenting “right. There was not enough hugging, praising, teaching, family nights, scripture study, etc.  going on in those homes and that’s why those children fought. I never stopped to consider that parents as amazing as Adam and Eve had children who fought.

Soon after I had children of my own, I was hit with a hard dose of reality. I was stunned to learn that children have their own opinions and personalities and yes they DO fight. Who knew?!

Now  I know better. Fighting is normal among siblings, and in my opinion, it is healthy too. Fighting with siblings is a safe training ground for future relationships. Fighting with siblings is also a safe environment in which kids can test boundaries and express individuality. However, it is only a safe environment if you teach them HOW to fight.

Continue reading Teach Your Children to Fight