Submitted by Clare Hinshaw
Photo by “Mike” Michael L. Baird, Flickr Creative Commons
“If Dads make an effort to talk to their daughters about their daughters’ thoughts/opinions, etc., it will help daughters understand that their thoughts and opinions are important to men, not just their physical appearance.” (http://www.aliceboyes.com/media-sexualization-of-children-what-parents-can-do/)
Starting with the sexual revolution of the sixties, our society has witnessed the increasing absence, whether physical or practical, of fathers. More children than not are separated from their fathers either because these men are not physically present in their children’s lives or because they are physically there but make it abundantly clear that their children are very low on their priority list. And we are seeing the effects of this absence.
In his song Daughters, John Mayer pleads: “Fathers be good to your daughters. Daughters will love like you do.” A girl’s first experience of men is with her father. If her father is present in her life and treats her with love she will learn how to be loved. She will learn her worth. She will learn to expect and demand respect from everyone she meets but particularly from men. Sadly, there are many women in our society today who did not have fathers in their lives and, therefore, never had the opportunity to learn these lessons. They never learned how to be loved by a man. The only direction they received in this area is from the media, the mantra of which appears to be “sex, sex, sex.” These women, in pursuit of the love which we all search for, can then begin to grasp out at any physical intimacy they are offered. My point here is not to degrade physical and sexual intimacy, which should be a beautiful component of love, but to observe that it is worthless if it is not backed up by a self-sacrificing love, a willingness to give of oneself for this other person. If a woman has never experienced this deeper love as coming from a man, that is, a father, she will not know, firsthand, that this is how men ought to treat her and will rather accept the only other direction she is receiving, that of the media. This ignorance of women as to how they should, and must demand, to be treated opens the door for predators, causing further out-of-wedlock pregnancies and absentee fathers and thereby perpetuating the problem. That is not to say that women who have loving fathers and know the treatment they must demand from men have not been victims of sexual predators, only that a woman who is actively grasping at any sexual intimacy becomes an easy target.
Dr. Alice Boye’s seventh tip for parents to combat media sexualization of children states, “Talk to your boys as well as your girls. Help your boys and your girls find positive and diverse role models and to have healthy attitudes to sex and relationships.” Girls are certainly not the only ones affected by missing fathers. The primary male role model for a boy is his father, whether that father is present or not. The message a boy receives if his father is absent is that abandoning one’s family and responsibilities is appropriate behavior for a man. That boy will never see firsthand how a real man behaves. He will not observe self-sacrifice and respect for women. His primary example of manhood will be an example of selfishness and irresponsibility. And what type of a man do you think he will grow up to be? The way to eradicate this epidemic of absentee fathers is to raise our sons to be men of character. An anonymous writing I once saw on a prayer card says, “The world fears true masculinity and mocks heroic virtue because in them lies the strength to do all things.”
As a young woman, I know the first step to raising a son I will be proud of is to choose his father wisely. If we can raise a generation of real men, the demand for sex slaves will decrease drastically. If we can raise a generation of real men, the number of “easy targets” will decrease drastically. If we can raise a generation of real men, sex trafficking will decrease drastically.