The following is based on my thoughts about two recent CNN articles:
Commentary: Is ‘sexting’ child pornography? and Out-of-wedlock births hit record high
I’ve mentioned before that I don’t believe in coincidence. Even so, when these two articles came through my reader feed yesterday, I didn’t think much about them…together. But last night when I remembered that I am supposed to be working on a presentation about generational differences in women, thoughts started weaving their way through my mind.
Ok, first…honesty time: Until the commentary hit my inbox, I had never heard or “sexting.” While reading it made me sad, I wasn’t necessarily given to thinking about taking sides on the “criminal” aspect of it, which is the focus of the article. Rather, I was wondering about what it is that we are instilling in our young people that makes this seem ok.
The sexting article referenced a recent study done which showed: “…51 percent of girls say it’s “pressure from guys” that’s making them send sexual messages and pictures of themselves. So guys are expecting this and our girls are saying “OK.” It makes me [psychotherapist Stacy Kaiser] wonder how much progress we’ve really made in how young women are viewed and treated.”
Then, the article on out-of-wedlock births hit with this statement:
“Nearly 40 percent of babies born in the United States in 2007 were delivered by unwed mothers . . . The 1.7 million out-of-wedlock births, of 4.3 million total births, marked a more than 25 percent jump from five years before. . . . which include for the second year in a row a bump in teen pregnancies, after a 14-year decline…”
So one thing I started wondering about is: Are statistics like these mutually exclusive? I don’t know the answer to this question and haven’t done anything to research it, but it has gotten me thinking about my own experience, which, would indicate to me that they are not. I was raised by a single mom, and due to my lack of understanding of what a healthy relationship looks like, the resentment I had at never knowing my father or feeling loved by any male role model, I used sex for all kinds of things: to gain “approval,” to be “mature,” to pursue unhealthy attachments to any guy who would pay attention to me, doing anything I could to keep a guy. Now, I’m not saying that my mom was a bad mom or that she ever said: “Hey…go do a lot of really stupid things with your body and maybe some man will actually love you;” but I am saying that the lack of a father figure in my life was a leading cause of choices I made as a teenage girl.
The other question I have had after mashing up this information echoes that posed by Kaiser: What does this say about how far we’ve come as women? Just because women can have babies without men, does that make us somehow make us more powerful or better off? What does it actually do to advance the state of women? ( I guess I don’t get the connection.) And, in the long run, what is it teaching our young girls? I know from my part, watching my mom struggle to pay bills while not having time to participate in my school events, it sure didn’t appear to empower her in any way.
So is exposing themselves for men and having babies without men really making women equal to men? Or is this just modern-day exploitation, selfishness, and ignorance?
Like I said…these are just things that have come swimming into my mind…as I’m preparing to present on generatational differences. I would like to be able to say, “We’ve come so far!” … But have we?