That headline is a quote from a very encouraging common-sense interview that was done by the Wall Street Journal a few days ago about the mother-daughter tension over modesty and sexuality. WSJ reporter Kelsey Hubbard interviewed author Jennifer Moses about the tension, regret, and misgivings mothers can feel about the way their daughters are dressing--and the implications of early sexualization via fashion and media. It's refreshing to see that people with different theologies and worldviews are discerning the problems of the pornographic culture in which we live. As Jennifer Moses says, "It's a debased, cheap culture because sex sells." Check out this five-minute interview below:
I posted the video first, because I think it is meatier than the essay Jennifer Moses wrote. But both are worth your time. Here's an excerpt from the essay:
All of which brings me to a question: Why do so many of us not only permit our teenage daughters to dress like this—like prostitutes, if we're being honest with ourselves—but pay for them to do it with our AmEx cards?
I posed this question to a friend whose teenage daughter goes to an all-girls private school in New York. "It isn't that different from when we were kids," she said. "The girls in the sexy clothes are the fast girls. They'll have Facebook pictures of themselves opening a bottle of Champagne, like Paris Hilton. And sometimes the moms and dads are out there contributing to it, shopping with them, throwing them parties at clubs. It's almost like they're saying, 'Look how hot my daughter is.'" But why? "I think it's a bonding thing," she said. "It starts with the mommy-daughter manicure and goes on from there."
I have a different theory. It has to do with how conflicted my own generation of women is about our own past, when many of us behaved in ways that we now regret. A woman I know, with two mature daughters, said, "If I could do it again, I wouldn't even have slept with my own husband before marriage. Sex is the most powerful thing there is, and our generation, what did we know?"
We are the first moms in history to have grown up with widely available birth control, the first who didn't have to worry about getting knocked up. We were also the first not only to be free of old-fashioned fears about our reputations but actually pressured by our peers and the wider culture to find our true womanhood in the bedroom. Not all of us are former good-time girls now drowning in regret—I know women of my generation who waited until marriage—but that's certainly the norm among my peers.
So here we are, the feminist and postfeminist and postpill generation. We somehow survived our own teen and college years (except for those who didn't), and now, with the exception of some Mormons, evangelicals and Orthodox Jews, scads of us don't know how to teach our own sons and daughters not to give away their bodies so readily. We're embarrassed, and we don't want to be, God forbid, hypocrites.
I have sympathy for this tension, even though I don't have teenage children. My prayer is that the adults (both moms and dads) will take the long-range view and not lose steam in guiding their teens toward modesty, self-restraint and self-respect. That the wisdom gleaned from hindsight (see the sentence I bolded above) will be shared liberally and without fears of hypocrisy with the young adults in our midst.