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Burgeoning Sexuality, but First an Introduction

November 5, 2008

So, before I get into the meat of my post, I first wanted to introduce myself and give thanks to the blog hostess here for inviting me to write. Thanks, Kitty! My name is Margaret L Jamison. I’m a 30-year-old woman who’s always been a radical feminist at heart. I’m hoping that my writing will reveal more about the gritty details of my position in the hierarchy as time goes by. It’s really such a subjective thing – status – so dependent upon contrasts and comparisons made between you and ever-changing “others.” I say ever-changing to acknowledge that our status changes depending upon who it is we’re being compared to. I may be a peon at my teaching job, for example (rhetorical; I don’t actually teach), but I may be of quite high standing in my local community if a college education or full-time state-sponsored work is rare where I’m from. So, rather than paint you an incomplete picture, I’ll leave my self-descriptions where they are for now.

What I really wanted to write about today was puberty. I have a young cousin in the throes of maturation right now, and she’s been on my mind a lot lately. She just turned 12 this past Sunday and is just now starting to express some interest in boys after an entire childhood of overt tomboyishness. I thought (hoped?) she might be a lesbian, actually, and I still have some lingering doubts as to her sudden demonstrations of heterosexuality. I wonder if she’s been teased recently about her boner-deflating figure, her “masculine” preferences, her potential lesbianism. I wonder if that’s why, all of a sudden, she’s making overtures at older boys and men now, like asking the mentally challenged adult man at her church whether he had a girlfriend or had had his first kiss.

Yeah.

This cousin of mine is being raised by my grandmother, which is both a good thing and a not so good thing. It’s a good thing because her own mother is not currently capable of being a good parent to her, and neither is her father, since he’s the reason her mother’s in no condition for it, what with him being her mother’s drug dealer and pimp. So, definitely a good thing that she’s not being raised by a vile drug-dealing pimp and his cowed and chemically debilitated “ho.” At the same time, my grandmother is the same woman who sent my adolescent mother into the world not knowing what a period was or how to manage one, so that when my mother’s best friend got her first period, she and the poor girl applied band-aids to her vulva. A generation later, when my favorite same-age cousin and I were whispering to each other about our own periods, she called us nasty girls for dwelling on such subjects, and told us to take the devil’s work outside.

Let me tell you, and it should come as no surprise, then, that grandma was not happy at all about my little cousin’s “flirting” with the mentally challenged but fully grown man at church. I fear the same sorts of condemnations are coming my little cousin’s way as the ones her older sister and I suffered all those years ago while giggling and whispering to each other under the sheets of my grandmother’s bed. I’m afraid my grandma is going to call her nasty, dirty, maybe worse. I’m afraid my grandma’s going to vilify her, make her feel ashamed.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love my grandmother, dearly. And I’ve forgiven her for the way she has handled issues of human sexuality and reproduction throughout her life. I can only imagine what sort of role model my great grandmother must have been for her, and I empathize. But I just can’t bear the thought of someone taking advantage of my naive little country cousin, and my grandmother blaming her and degrading her for it.

I want there to be a way to divest my cousin of some of her innocence and naivety without hurting her, without making her despair. And I want to be able to tell her it’s OK not to like boys. I want to tell her it’s OK if the boys don’t like her, too, but I know that male supremacy is already entrenched in a child’s mind by the time she turns 12. I know it will be difficult not to care at all for the temporary status and acclaim that comes with being alluring to boys. I want to tell her directly that she does not have the face, the hair, the body to gain the attentions of the popular boys at school, but that her face, hair, and body are lovable, and she deserves to be loved. I want her to know those things so that she can protect herself when they come to exploit her. We, girls who fall short of the pornographic standard, have all learned at some point that not being “desireable” doesn’t necessarily mean that boys won’t fuck you, that they won’t throw a crumb of attention your way. It only means they’ll be nasty about it. They might not be gentle or kind, the way they might be while performing the same degradations on a more patriarchally approved of girl or woman. They might not acknowledge her in broad daylight, relegating her to sexual attention only. They might call her names.

I’ve known that girl, and been that girl, the fat/ugly/crippled girl who was nonetheless (ab)used sexually by the boys and discarded. I’ve seen what that woman looks like when she grows up, too.

How do you tell a 12-year-old girl these things about the male half of the human race without hurting her?

11 Comments
  1. Natasha permalink
    November 5, 2008 7:31 pm

    I replied on the update regarding the Nebraska law, some of the answers to your question will be in that post.

    First of all, this might come as a shock but I’ll just say it, she probably knows a LOT more than you might realize,

    what they get in the schools and by other teens and rural or not doesn’t matter, is more than what We learned in our twenties,

    want proof, do some checking out of My Space, you’d be shocked at what teens and pre teens KNOW today.

    Another thing, its NOT just boys anymore, hate to be blunt but thats the ugly truth, NOW you need to teach your kids to watch out for both Girls and Boys,

    my daughter was lured by a nineteen year old lesbian, and the whole ‘bisexual’ experimentation via teen pressure is Huge right now, probably more than boys luring girls, seriously not kidding you there,

    oral sex is another big pressure and anal sex, dangerously so, TO PREVENT PREGNANCY,

    and these kids are teaching and pressuring each other to make the rounds so to speak. And it doesn’t matter is its some small town in the backwoods of Miss, they are doing it there as well as the inner city of New York or L.A.

    The deal with the whole ‘self esteem’ and boys being bad, etc., the thing with that is that relying on that message doesn’t cut it in its own right because TODAY its the amount of sex and the amount of partners [both genders] and the Risk plus just how kinky etc., one has IS because they are being taught or influenced rather that its a type of feminist self empowerment,

    boys do it so why not girls, that sort of thing, though the double standards, as Kitty wrote in the Nebraska post is still just as backwards as ever, boys walk, girls are demonized [not just by neo cons either but by the super ceo feminist woman model we have today],

    do it and do it a lot but dare you have a kid type of mentality. Throw in a conservative family or grandparent [girl down street from us same damn situation, her grandmother would have a Heart Attack if she knew what her eleven year old knew, friend of my second daughter and I’ve known her since we moved here three years ago, and they learn it in schools].

    So I would suggest, first of all, just being straight up with her, and don’t be shocked if she knows a lot more than you think. A lot of it will depend too on how much teen interaction she has, how much access to internet she has, etc., but my other daughter is what is known as a goodie two shoes, you know the label but she knows, they all do and in fact my nine year old boy knows things he hears from even the seven year olds that we didn’t even hear about until we were like 17. Its that bad today,

    the most dangerous thing I can tell you is the Risk factor, not just the emotional factor but the risk–the half truths is what I call it that these teens tell each other. For example, you can get aids but not if you use washrag later [anal] or things like that,

    again sorry to be blunt but you HAVE to be because these kids aren’t just experimenting or having sex after junior tells her he loves her and will respect her, they don’t even Bother with that anymore,

    now its the girls asking and not in a nice way, or vice versa, and relationships, neither girls or boys want them–its like one big free for all type of mentality,

    but with the risk And the cruelty, both genders again. It seems that the tougher they act the higher up in popularity they go,

    taking risks no matter how much knowledge they have because to not do so then they are narrow and puritan or have hang ups, etc.,

    and the pressure is really on these kids today. Another thing too you need to be aware of is the drug culture that is often intertwined,

    and I don’t just mean pot, I mean, pot mixed [or chronic] embalming fluid, that type of shit,

    ectasy is huge [misspelled], mushrooms, lsd is back in a huge way, and group sex and the whole pulling trains, etc.,

    or switching partners, thats probably More of what goes on today than anything, and at the same time,

    meaning, they’ll be spending night at friends having sex with her and both sleeping with the same guy, That happens a lot.

    And its like no big deal to them, and NO its not just the drug crowd or the ‘bad’ kids [you know the stereotypes] ITS OUR CULTURE,

    its what these kids, and I emphasize KIDS are living with and being influenced by,

    be straight up with her, tell it like it is, no holding back, not just about boys lying [she knows that already I can guarantee you that one] but how callous it really has become and it really does take a very strong person,

    male or female, doesn’t matter, to be strong in one’s self and stand true, turning one’s back on the risk taking and the crowd, no matter what the crowd they are in,

    but not just the issue about the emotions, teen pregnancy and parenting BUT just flat common sense,

    my daughter started experimenting at very young age, I caught her actually with a boy much older, had suspicion because I see it all the time and pretty well knew what was going down, and I had told her about birth control, all of it,

    she KNEW but it was the risk and the whole sensuationalism of it, I drove the reality in hard [I was single parent for years and if Anyone knows feminism She did but it didn’t matter, you see teens know everything and unlike us dumb parents, they can do shit but it not effect them like it did us, you know how they are],

    so I took her and got her on the pill, and you know even After on the pill she would still take stupid risks,

    I’m fortunate that she talks to me and the communication is open, she’s grown out of a lot of that now, and she’s just turned 16–What does that tell you?

    They are doing things so much younger and not just out of low self esteem [my daughter is very feminist, very strong, just very stubborn and rebellious and today they act out that rebellion by Risky sex/drugs [hemp and tragically meth, one you really need to educate her on and I cannot emphasize that enough].

    And what shocked me, when I found my daughter was that she was lured, not by a boy, but by girls,

    then I found out about My Space and its like teen porn central out there,

    learn the lingo, learn the signs, don’t be Shocked at anything because they do it all–

    its the Parents/caregivers that say, “oh my kid won’t do that” blah blah, let me tell you, their kids do that AND MORE,

    the most dangerous thing in our world today is for caregivers and parents to be in denial.

    It don’t matter how sweet junior is at home or how much they say yes we know and so and so does that but we don’t

    DON’T BELIEVE THEM,

    seriously, well believe them but don’t believe them, don’t think your kids won’t try anything that You didn’t do as kid and if you were one of those good kids who never did wrong,

    don’t think the same of your kids, because the times are more than just different. I think a lot of the kids are partaking in the risks Because of other issues,

    they are reacting to fear in the way they know how, by taking control,

    you know they take the risk and if they survive [and don’t get pregnant or with an STD or AIDS] they’ve beat it, know what I’m saying,

    they have control over life/fear, and I think, personally its gotten worse since after 9-11,

    thats the ONE aspect of their intimate lives that they can control and that is their bodies,

    and a lot of the risky/bad behavior even WITH KNOWLEDGE and WITH LOVE AND SUPPORT is because of them wanting control,

    control over their destinies in a world/future that they feel they really don’t have any.

    Its NOT just sex/how patriarchy is bad, etc., that these girls [and boys mind you] need to talk about and hear AND BE HEARD

    its their fears,

    fears of war, fears of global warming, fear of the economy, these kids and teens today ARE AFRAID,

    and they are acting out that fear in the risks and exchanges they are doing. You see, they switch/exchange risk and un-intimate caring sex because to do so, means they can’t get hurt,

    if they don’t care, if they chuck the values and ‘pretend’ shit don’t bother them,

    no one can touch them, you see,

    the more they can bare all and NOT be effected [though we know they are but They convince themselves they aren’t] the more invincible they become,

    no one can hurt them because they are not only tough on the outside but on the inside.

    Thats whats going on today, thats a big part of it, so the important things I think are

    1. let them know no matter WHAT, you are there for them, not that there isn’t consequences but that you are there for them and on their side, no judgments

    2. let them know that life has no guarantees and that yes life is Very scary and no there is really no guarantee that all will be fixed BUT that they have the power in themselves to not only cope with what comes but Change the world, no matter how dark or bleak it looks

    3. let them know that love still matters, that no matter how hard people may seem, people haven’t changed, they have maybe stuffed themselves into these cubicle drone beings but that friendship, trust, yes still do matter and that just giving one self away with risk especially actually does NOT make them invincible but erodes security because they can lose trust in THEMSELVES,

    and I think thats what they realize and Thats where the true danger is in all the risk-sex taking is that they become so desensitized that they start losing faith/trust in themselves.

    Most of all that you love them and that they are Worthy of being loved,

    and that male or female, no one has the right to devalue them.

    My daughter came through some struggles, and a lot what I share with you is working with her, working with so many of the teens that I know, kids,

    and listening to them. for girls to or young women, today its even more dangerous because with the internet and pressure/risk luring the pedophiles are working big time with these teens, to lure them in,

    and want to know something, it isn’t just the Men. Hate to say it but say it I will,

    it Is a dog eat dog world and if we want our children to be safe and healthy, emotionally and physically we need knowledge and it is really ugly out there,

    but the more knowledge we have, the more we can help them. Keep your eyes peeled and open, take time to listen,

    listen to the lyrics of the music she listens to, all of it,

    you see something get online, type if up and learn about it, including the lingo these teens use today. And just brace yourself and hang in there,

    its a war, I won’t hesitate to say it, it truly is a war and its not one we can fight with our kids by holding back from the frontlines,

    hope some of this helps. Know too, with the grandmother she might choose to do more risky just to spite her or to choose her own destiny/choices [in her mind] so be aware of that and just keep open the communication.

    I will say, the whole boys are bad and will, try to do this, that, while true,

    its not just the boys now, its both, and its group oriented,

    and with girls today its the notion that the more boys one ‘screws’ and ‘dumps or has no attachments’ the more ‘feminist’ she is, or tough/empowered, etc.,

    and on That its harder on the young women/girls because we know thats not the emotional reality,

    but know something, its just as damaging to the boys too, not in the same way of course but I’m seeing it in boys as young as nine,

    and until we, as a society Do something about the whole materialist people don’t matter culture and sex as using people like they are dildo type of mentality this is what we are going to keep seeing,

    until we do that, not by moral extremes or denial but by addressing That aspect of it [human exchange being more than what can I get out of you type of thinking]

    our children really do live in a jungle.

    Peace,

    Natasha

  2. MargaretJamison permalink
    November 5, 2008 11:36 pm

    Hi Tasha,

    Thanks for commenting. I just wrote a really long response to you, but it disappeared when I tried to publish it.

    I’ll have to come back and try to recreate it later, but I wanted you to at least know I’d put in the effort :/

  3. The Fabulous Kitty Glendower permalink
    November 6, 2008 1:03 am

    First, Welcome to our humble (but I like to think, intellectually zany) room Margie.

    Usually if I have more than a sentence or two I will open a word document, write, then copy, and paste it into the comment section, because, as you see, the comment thing is unreliable.

  4. MargaretJamison permalink
    November 6, 2008 3:55 am

    OK, so, first, thanks again for your comment, Tasha. I will definitely take your advice about the worldliness of today’s kids to heart, and I’ll try not to act as shocked as I’m sure I will be when I have this conversation with my cousin. I’m almost dreading it now.

    What you said about having to watch out for girls as much as boys, though – I’m not sure that girls/women exploiting other girls/women sexually is the same thing as men and boys sexually exploiting girls and women. The numbers of women amongst the worlds predators are small, and I would think that the numbers of female sexual abusers who are not aided/abetted/encouraged by men, whether in the present or as a result of past actions, would be even smaller. All women’s sexuality – not orientation, but just the mere fact of a woman’s being sexual; perhaps ‘sexualness’ is a better word, if I’m permitted to just make one up on the fly – has been, is being, twisted, shaped by the white male supremacist world we live in. That some girls/women use their sexualness against other girls/women in male-supremacist ways (emphasis on penetration, just as one example of many) is, of course, a bad thing, a contemptible thing. But I really don’t think orientation has anything to do with it. Just as there are “gay” men who rape women, and “straight” men who rape men, after all, sexuality in the orientation sense has very little to do with whether or not a woman is a sexual predator either.

    In any event, with the chance of pregnancy, and the heightened risk of STDs with penile intercourse, I’d rather my little cousin direct her sexualness toward females than males – if she feels a need to *direct* it at anyone, which I certainly don’t advocate.

    My earlier comment was better expressed, I think, but I hope you’ll allow me the opportunity to clarify or elaborate if this one falls short in any way. I don’t mean to offend at all.

    Margie

  5. Natasha permalink
    November 6, 2008 9:05 pm

    Hi Margie,

    well for starters, know I didn’t mean to frighten you [or any reading here]. But I do want to comment about the girls exploiting not being as bad as boys,

    not so, in Fact, my daughter was extremely hurt and Still after three years has a LOT of damage due to this young woman, it is, in my opinion [and I lived on streets as kid so I can speak from experience, especially when it comes to men and exploitation],

    far, far worse.

    You Expect it, from boys/men, even if you trust them, you still always have that foreknowledge that they may be lying,

    not so with girls/women, you tend to trust them more AND this notion that only men can be exploitive, is just not true,

    sure, in our patriarchal society it IS of course more rampant that men/boys do the exploiting but let me assure you,

    rape or fraud type of enticement by a woman, adult especially is Just as abusive, Just as damaging [long term] and Just the same–make no qualms about it and in fact, in ways its harder to separate oneself from the emotional ties or what I term as soul ties as a result of,

    its hard to explain in a short bit here but the idea that abuse from women isn’t as bad is a MYTH.

    Also the idea that women can’t be as cruel or that abuse even if fraudulent/exploitive isn’t as hurtful is in fact a Patriarchal concept in itself, it comes from the idea of woman being all good and pure/nuturing rather than individuals as Agents of choice [influenced or not, men too are also influenced],

    which IS more damaging because when abuse/exploitation occurs by another woman there tends to be self-blame, no support, an social and individual belief that its simply not as bad or possible, etc.

    The thing is too, women/young girls tend to take on the persona OF a woman [older esp] that are abusing them, in other words, the emotional link and damage tends to be much deeper Because of the similarities between them AND the understanding of women living in yes, a patriarchal world,

    if you Can’t trust a woman in a world of devouring men,

    whom CAN you trust, that sort of thing.

    So contrary to the belief that its only harmful if Men do the exploiting, wrong, So wrong. And in fact, I’ll share this, After the exploitive relationship between this woman and my daughter, Then she didn’t care if men exploited her and she got involved with a 35 year old man,

    he was Hispanic and Looks to be about 20 but he was 35, and she was ripe for exploitation because she had already been very well manipulated and trained by a young woman. So by the time this young woman was done fucking with my daughter’s head, the 35 year old had not a problem,

    when I found out we [parents] put a stop to it but the damage was done, it took a year of lots of talks and support to get my daughter or help her to cope/deal with it, she made the choice, what I mean by that risk factor but it was still very damaging AND the thing I was shocked to find,

    my daughter wasn’t the only one, three of her friends Also knew this same woman And this man. Some of it was tied into the whole hemp thing but the thing is,

    now a days the older/younger adults hang with the teens and because of the availability in raves, internet, hang outs, even coffee shops mind you,

    its not like in the days where certain ages/groups hung out ONLY with their kind. These teens today hang out in very diverse and mixed age groups.

    And this is why I do come forward because there IS that denial, or not so much denial, I think its just that many adults simply don’t know whats going on out there and the ones that do hear about it think its only a small segment of kids or the kids you see on Jerry Springer but it is our culture and its in the best of rich schools to the inner city. In fact, I think its worse in the neighborhoods where there is money,

    in the poorer neighborhoods you run into it too but with the gangs and Thats just as bad, if not worse.

    I would recommend going out to my space and check out some of these web sites, see if you can become a friend on one of them, and you will find out a lot, and yes its snooping but in This day and age,

    its just too damn dangerous Not to snoop, at least a little to see what in the hell our kids are up to. I was lucky, I found out a lot because I work out of the home, IF, IF I had been working at job site, shit,

    I probably wouldn’t have found out what was going on because these kids are very smart in keeping these things under wraps, far more than what We were when younger. AND because of cell phones [esp cell phones] and internet its very easy for kids to live out a second life without adults/caretakers knowing,

    EVEN if one monitors computer at home, you still don’t know what they are doing in another’s home OR on computers at school or cyber cafes. I will even go as far to say, at least 90% of the kids are drinking or smoking chronic [hemp],

    at least 30% experimenting or doing meth, 45% X, and I am not over exaggerating here,

    these kids today are living out Studio 54 on the streets, in our malls, homes, cafes, school yards, you name it,

    as horrible and as heartbreaking as it is, its what is going on and the more we know and are aware, the more we can help our kids get through these times,

    it isn’t easy but its today, life and death, it really is,

    IF not physical death emotional. Now I do live in a diverse community that is pockets of rich/or upper middle class and pockets of very poor, with a suburb near us that is meth city, literally [all white mind you and with money, where the money is is where you will find the meth] and the gangs further north, about fifteen minutes away,

    and they all know each other. And I live near a city,

    I say this because I lived in the inner city and in ways the suburbs and rural are far, far worse. Because of the money, parents working and no one watching the kids, and to be blunt,

    too damn much trust. Oh junior does great in school and has part time job or maybe not, has car, dresses nice, shops at Gap, and has access to any drug you want,

    prescription drugs are a another big thing they abuse today too, including abusing Ridalin if you can believe that–anything to make the group hanging out better, which includes the sex.

    And where do these kids go to have sex,

    someone’s house where parents are working, no kidding, and in fact when I caught my daughter thats where I found her, in a home. I literally had to bust down the door to pull her ass out of there because the other boys and girls were just sitting on couch while she was in room with this boy. I found out later that she already had the relationship with the 19 year old girl, who I thought was 17.

    And I’m street smart, ok, and even I was shocked, literally shocked but it was a damn real wake up call and I got on the ball and started watching Everything, really listening and learning and even asking teens questions here and for two summers we had teens hanging out at our place so I could keep an eye and the shit I learned was just mind boggling,

    teens will always talk about other teens, just not themselves, but you can piece it together. And all the teen girls I talked to had multiple partners, and these are the types that will go to good colleges one day,

    parents have money, work, never home, or not often, and these kids are little adults, or living like adults, at least in Their minds they are.

    And my step son came down to live with us from a small town in Utah, ok., and here he was from small rural farm town and he had done pretty much the same stuff–

    you know those t.v. shows “Gossip Girl”, and some of those, kids actually do those things but its worse in real life,

    and its heartless, very dog eat dog and thats what does make is so difficult, its more than just peer pressure. Its a form of nihilism, its the closet thing I can come to describing it but its nihilism,

    and thats why I mention the fears because if you really talk AND LISTEN to them, and they start talking about those things that fear comes out, insecurity and a LOT of rage,

    rage at us, rage at our consumerist culture, at the Hypocrisy, you name it,

    we say one thing, our culture bombards them with entirely different. And these kids aren’t stupid, they are very smart and they see right through it.

    So, while I get what you are saying about men and patriarchy, etc., that message will be understood much differently by the younger girls today, or young women, because you see the boys they are growing up with today, are in many ways very different from the men or boys we grew up with, some more violent BUT girls are more violent now too.

    its very androgenous, put it that way, though patriarchal its an androgenous patriarchy, and even misandry, and misogyny of women even by women [among the teens] but they don’t think in gender binaries like we do so much,

    not like we do. Hard to explain but I think they have a bit more knowledge than we give them credit for BUT they’ve also seen the illusions of the whole women having it all,

    remember these are the teens/girls who have pretty much raised themselves.

    Mothered themselves, so many teens today have grown up without nuture, (sic),

    why they seek it out in each other AND the whole respect/toughness thing, depending on what issues/daily realities they are dealing with. They hate the traditional but they aren’t too happy with the today either.

    And the sad thing is everyone thinks everything is peachy, it isn’t. Not where these kids are seeing it,

    Most of the kids where I am are in the whole ICP culture, which is growing nationwide btw, all over the place. Its reactionary/subculture but you know it says a lot about the nihilism and what these kids are dealing with today,

    they are dealing with issues that we didn’t even Dream of. AND even the future looks bleak to them,

    something else too, and the thing with the 35 year old is why I’ll say it,

    on one hand we teach these girls empowerment but then on the other we teach them protectionism, the whole men are bad thing,

    and to them, its bullshit. You can’t send double messages, and even if we don’t, society Does.

    Especially when its today like I said, both men and women doing the exploiting, hell they exploit each other these days,

    people are commodities to be exchanged and used, thats the belief, oh, sure, they have the whole group love thing but its fickle, very fickle. In the sub groups its ‘family’, thats really what these kids are doing,

    forming families, not just the Crips and Bloods and Serenos 13 either,

    [the latter being very dangerous]

    And its even in the Churches, my second daughter seeing all the shit my oldest has gone through, is very different, she’s an exception, very individualist though she’s just as effected, don’t get me wrong but she goes to this youth group and hell she tells me the crap that goes on there and its NO better,

    they can’t get a way from it so we Have to be their eyes and ears for them and see THEIR WORLD, NOT OURS.

    As much as it might not go with what we have defined that IS the world they live with,

    and they need family to fall back on, to support them AND to help guide them. And guiding them is the most difficult because we have a world of competition out there with so many voices including even the system that doesn’t support parents/families,

    just the opposite. Keep communication open, and I think, what I learned is to really listen,

    not to put My observations [esp about men] onto my daughter but to listen to her,

    besides, I think one of the reasons she Did choose or take in risks Was to cut those ties with me and My anger with patriarchy,

    does that make sense what I’m saying there? To here, those are “My Hangups”, why should they be hers? That sort of thing,

    and yes its very painful to watch and see when you Know whats going down but at the same time, sometimes when we try to Live through them to protect them,

    that can backfire. So I learned to always tell her I believe in her, that she’s beautiful and worthy and to teach her empowerment in herself, more than men are bad, etc., the MORE esteem and self respect they have they figure it out,

    they do, they WILL get hurt, they WILL get burned, thats life,

    but IF, IF they have that inner core strength that hey, I got someone in my corner no matter how much I hate their rules and nosiness and so forth, I don’t need to take this crap off my peers, etc.,

    but it Doesn’t come overnight I’m afraid, and its a rollercoaster. One day they are themselves the next its like all you’ve taught them has flown out the window and they tell you to go to hell and then they come to find out you were right, etc.,

    and its just a battle, no manual on it, thats for sure but I think today what is so direly needed is that drop in pretense and bullshit our society puts out and really just be frank and honest because today we have more kids committing suicide, taking part in risky behaviors even While knowing the risks,

    and simply not caring. Not that they don’t care but they have discouragement, many of them do. Some of this is normal teen years but in the climate of things today With the desensitization of violence, commodifying of humans and the whole raunch culture,

    similar I think to pre Hitler Germany, our kids are sorting through these things and more. And contrary to it just being men/boys,

    oh no, its just as dangerous with girls. When my daughter walks out that door I don’t just worry about the boys,

    I worry about the girls too, maybe more so. Because girls today are literally pimping out each other,

    to both boys and other girls so be aware of that. And these girls are hurting themselves not because its only boys hurting them,

    but girls too.

    Also look into the Emo culture, thats another sub culture that you need to be aware of,

    the putting pics of themselves on their my space, you name it, they are doing it. And learn the lingo,

    you know the most shocking thing I learned was how they are mixing embalming fluid with chronic,

    that to me says so much about the nihilism and what are kids are doing–risking death,

    almost flirting with it, but question is Why?

    And the problem is society talks about the problems but isn’t asking the questions,

    and our teens/kids know it. When you have nine year olds knowing and having seen Saw [the movie] at a friends house and that level of sick violence doesn’t even bother them,

    that says volumes. Video games where rape and killing are ‘hobbies’, and even if they are monitored at home,

    they are still hearing and seeing it at schools and in hanging out. It takes a lot of courage and just gritting teeth and fighting really, to keep our kids safe, not just physically safe but emotionally safe. I think one more thing too,

    offering them alternatives, with us, there isn’t much for kids to do unless they have $$, thats the system, keeping out the working class/undesirables so to speak, when Rec Centers cost more than doctors, you know,

    that to me is deliberate strategy by system, but there are other things, they Might not be interested but as long as they know there is something other than sex, drugs, fighting, etc., other than video games and you tube,

    thats where one has to get creative, they may not partake in the things but it does open their mind, and jobs, work,

    these kids today need to learn the value of work. Its difficult because so many places aren’t hiring kids [easier to hire adults that they can get by with abusing labor laws],

    but if they can find some work, some value in doing something for themselves other than the quick visual gratification, that helps, a lot. BUT, be forewarned, what comes with that independence is often a tendency to know all and do all no matter what parents say–that empowerment thing again as the backdrop of being ‘invincible’. So it just has to come with balance–

    To close, not All kids do the same things, but for the kids who choose to not partake, its very hard on them, being ostracized, in ways that I won’t go into here because I’ve taken enough time and space here,

    and sometimes its my other daughter I worry about more, its very depressing for them to walk alone, so to speak, its NOT easy,

    and no amount of support sometimes can take away their pain. Even if they don’t show it, and they don’t always do. The more They know though, that WE know what they are up against–Their world, not our world or interpretation of,

    the better. And trust–they have to trust us, that means, when they fuck up, you don’t harp on it or judge them, AND THEY WILL FUCK UP,

    you get in their corner and love them no matter what. NOT that they shouldn’t learn consequences to behavior, but that they know, they aren’t in this world, even if the world Does end tomorrow,

    alone.

    Since my daughter’s teen years, all but one of her friends has had a child and one several abortions [she got into the 13 gang], one boy in coma, her first boyfriend [the one I caught her with], two months ago, car accident–he’s the ONLY one that survived,

    they were drinking. He’s still in coma,

    and two other kids she knows,

    dead.

    The young woman who lured her and really messed her up,

    in and out of rehab.

    Thats the world these kids live in today—its far more than just patriarchal men and of all,

    the one that hurt my daughter the most, was the young woman.

    She’s never gotten over it.

    Natasha

  6. MargaretJamison permalink
    November 7, 2008 1:31 am

    Hi Natasha,

    I didn’t mean to imply that boys/men exploiting women/girls was *worse* than women/girls exploiting each other. I only said that I didn’t think they were the same. And I still don’t.

    My only point was that I don’t think sexual orientation is a useful tool through which to view sexual abuse/exploitation. I don’t think the only women who abuse other women are lesbians any more than I think the only men who abuse women are straight.

    It’s not my intent to dictate to anyone how badly one is hurt by certain events. I only mean to say that the consequences – both personal and political – are different when a male is exploiting a female than when a woman is doing it. For me the concepts of ‘goodness’ and ‘badness’, ‘better’ and ‘worse’ tend to get in the way, and I try not to frame discussions that way. I don’t mean to imply anything at all having to do with those notions when I say that male exploitation is different from female exploitation. I don’t think different means better or worse, good or bad.

    I do mean, though, that I’m really far more concerned about boys in my own cousin’s life than I am about girls. I’m willing to accept that my focus may not address the emotional toll other female people may take on her life, but the toll that males take on female bodies is different.

  7. Natasha permalink
    November 7, 2008 3:24 pm

    I shared a bit about my daughter,

    not to debate boys verses girls, from where I sit, there is just too much more to be watchful for, and maybe because of the world in which we live in, meaning,

    income, area, etc.

    All I know is, its dangerous out there and its dog eat dog,

    either you give and/or help the kids-teens the tools to Cope, and be watchful

    no matter what. Because at the end of it, it doesn’t really matter a damn about our academic opinion, gender studies and all that,

    because it won’t Change anything. I guess what I’m saying is that I as well as my daughters have seen shit coming from both genders, to us its more than gender,

    its class and race, its not a problem with Patriarchy as much as it is with HIERARCHY and POWER,

    and living it, it don’t matter if I’m fucked over by a man or a woman, its still being fucked over by a human being and it erodes trust, etc and vice versa.

    That doesn’t come out of some book,

    it comes out of living life, and these kids today are living a life that is very rough. Thats all I was saying,

    when I see girls luring other girls into gangs where they are passed around like meat,

    its sort of naive for me to then think, its only boys/men that hurt. When I see women paying for services [tricks] and I have when I lived on the streets,

    you know don’t matter if its a male john or a female john,

    they both are shit.

    Hear what I’m saying,

    so, we can agree to disagree. There is just too much dangerous shit going on today that I just think our kids need to be aware of everyone, sounds cynic I know,

    but then I’ve seen the worst in humans INCLUDING WOMEN. So I guess to me its about human nature, not just gender.

  8. Natasha permalink
    November 7, 2008 4:11 pm

    Just to clarify,

    hope you didn’t get impression by the women who lured my daughter that I am implying its only lesbians,

    not so. So I want to clarify that, I belong to a support group of grown women who were sexually abused/raped By other women, including by their own mothers. Yes it happens,

    there are victims of rape by lesbians but Just as many by het women too, children, adults, domestic violence in relationships,

    I will say however, that in America [contrary to Australia and Canada where they are a bit more aware and outspoken about the problem, America is still got a long ways to go in facing the reality of abuse and power abuse with women perps], but I will say,

    to say that its not as harmful is diminishing because let me state for the record,

    its Just as harmful, painful, just because there is patriarchy and penisis doesn’t mean that there aren’t other painful physical abuses and mental ones. And that knowledge, I just don’t go for the whole men are bad and women pure thing or men hurt more than women and all that,

    because I know otherwise. And I’ve seen too much and while yes, Yes it is a patriarchal society where its more than likely you’ll be hurt by a man [obviously], it IS becoming more so that you’ll be hurt by women too,

    and that was the point I was driving at. Especially with our youth,

    it has nothing to do with lesbianism or gays, etc., because sexual orientation doesn’t matter when it comes to abuse, exploitation and harm as far as the perp issue is concerned,

    the majority of women who abuse by the way, statistically, are heterosexual. So I wanted to clear that up,

    But with the Commodification that is going on today and with the whole thing that its ‘chic’ to be Bisexual,

    we are seeing a lot more power abuse in relationships, especially among youth. Exploitation and rape and abuse is not about sex,

    its about violence and power, doesn’t matter What gender or orientation of the perp is,

    and THATS what we have to teach our teens. I’m afraid that if we only stress the evils of patriarchal abuse that we leave our young women ripe for other kinds of VIOLENT ABUSE/SEXUAL ABUSE

    that is yes, the same,

    because its about abuse of power.

    Doesn’t matter if they do it by fraud, kindness then abuse or flat out violence,

    its about abuse of power and its rape. Maybe not fist slamming rape but its the effects are the same,

    just as damaging, just as demoralizing and just as dehumanizing. So yes, I do stress teaching kids the importance of being watchful of people period,

    not just men, not just women, not just hets or gays, of everyone,

    because we live in a world where power and abuse and commodifying of people is the norm,

    and That was the point I was getting at.

    Natasha

  9. MargaretJamison permalink
    November 7, 2008 4:13 pm

    I agree with you when you say it’s about hierarchy and power, but it’s hard for me to look at girls recruiting other girls to be passed around to the BOYS in a gang as something that’s *ultimately* about the girls and not the boys. I’m not saying female people aren’t involved; I’m just saying they aren’t the people who ultimately benefit; they aren’t the ones who are ultimately in power; the buck doesn’t stop with them.
    I fully realize that it’s not *just* about sex. But when talking about hierarchies of power, I refuse not to see that our society is as male supremacist as it is capitalist and white/light supremacist, and that at the end of the day it’s the racially and economically oppressed *female* who is most at a disadvantage. I’m not big on statistics and quotes, so I’m not sure why you label my perspective an academic one. I can see with my own two eyes that the people buying women are overwhelmingly male. I’m not ignoring the fact that women do it too; just acknowledging that the vast, vast majority of people who pay money to sexually use women are men and boys, just as the vast, vast majority of people who do it for free are men.
    And men can cause harm to women that we can’t cause to each other, if you view pregnancy and childbirth and STDs as harms inflicted on women by men (under this system in which the vast majority of women have no choice), as I do. STD transmission from woman to woman is low, and it is impossible for a girl/woman to inflict pregnancy on another girl/woman.

  10. Anna Belle permalink
    November 9, 2008 2:37 am

    Wow, great post. Good for you for caring. I would suggest just having some conversations with her about your experience. Let her know you’re giving her advice because you care and because you struggled in isolation and she doesn’t have to.

    One important aspect that people forget is the use of simple logic. It makes no sense for any child, but especially a girl, to be making decisions with sexual partners before they have any experience making decisions for themselves. Suggest to her that waiting until she has a job and some experience making those life decisions for herself is a healthy choice to make. And repeat it often. I have a fourteen year old and I cannot stress enough the value of repetitive reinforcement. One conversation won’t do it–it’ll require a greater commitment. Good luck. It’s worth it.

  11. MargaretJamison permalink
    November 10, 2008 12:12 pm

    Thanks, Anna Belle. You know, I’d sort of relinquished any hope that she might wait until she’s settled, and made some real-word decisions for herself before deciding to have sex. I thought the best I could wish for would be that she get through the dangerous sexual exploration stage quickly – that she soon realize it’s no different or better than the things I’m going to tell her, when I have those talks with her, which I haven’t yet. But your comment gives me renewed hope that maybe she can be spared altogether.

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