|This is proper swimwear (at the beach in Norway in June.)|
Which brings me to my main problem with this issue: the fact that girls in our culture already receive so many warped messages about their budding bodies; bodies that are sexualized from when they are teeny little babies. Young girls who're given the message they ought to look sexy, but not act sexual, not even when they've grown up. Lest they be labeled "sluts." Why add to this sex negative sexualization of young girls? Why tell them they have to cover up as if there's something wrong with their bodies?
I talked for a while about this to the wall of testosterone confronting me (there is only one female member on the Park and Recreation Advisory Board and she wouldn't say a word, nor look me in the eye), before their guns started firing back at me.
They couldn't believe how naive I am. How irresponsible it is in today's society to leave a child "naked" surrounded by potential pedophiles. I pointed out that the pool rules call for a guardian's supervision of children younger than eight. They said not all parents follow the rule and you wouldn't believe how neglectful parents can be (offensive as this statement is; wouldn't this sort of issue pertain more to child services than pool staff?). I asked them to pursue the predator and not its victim, but they said pedophiles don't go around wearing a sign. The pool manager didn't want to present parents with a report on a predator's abuse of their child; better safe than sorry. I told them their attempt at "helping" by enforcing girls to cover up, is not a good way of helping them; it's shaming them. It's telling them from a very young age that men just can't help themselves; therefore it is her responsibility to do whatever she can to stay safe. -- This is the same line of reasoning that deduces a woman brought it upon herself if she's raped when dressed provocatively. (Which is ironic, considering the slut themed fashion line of attire these days).
|Lilly in the frilly bikini bottom in question, with me in mine.|
The thing is, my talking about how our culture sexualizes young girls didn't sit with them at all, because in their minds, girls already are sexual, and not in the way human sexuality educator Debra W. Haffner talks about it in her book on child sexuality, but in a way that tempts any man, potentially a pedophile. So when I let my toddler daughter be topfree at the pool, I essentially taunt the sex of men. (And how dare I do this to them?) Since it's so hard for men to resist, and especially for a pedophile.
In the end, my talking to the Board was pointless; there is no getting passed their fear-based hatred. Their fear is deep-seated in a lack of healthy attitudes to sex as a whole in our culture. Which we will never attain unless we get positive comprehensive sex education in the schools; information that can foster mutual understanding and respect between boys and girls. The problem is that fear-ridden men can't trust. They don't trust their own sex, they don't trust women, and they certainly don't trust youth. They lack knowledge, and at the same time they deny knowledge.
Knowledge is power. And today a sad amount of girls and boys grow up lacking the knowledge with which to navigate safely; the tools that can help them define their sexual boundaries in an informed and healthy way, knowing how to say no and to what. And also how to say yes and to what. And when they are ready and want it. And not because "boys just can't help themselves."