This is a reply to an article that was published on

No. Just no.

First, when we tell boys that their thoughts and actions cannot be controlled unless girls behave or dress a particular way, we teach boys that they do not need to be responsible for their thoughts and actions. We teach them it’s okay to make judgements of a girl based on her clothing and her body language. We set arbitrary guidelines on clothing and poses we deem appropriate. Saying “men of integrity don’t linger over pictures of scantily clad high-school girls” means we as parents, are responsible for teaching our boys how to be men of integrity. There is no need to police the bodies of young girls in order to teach this to our sons.

Second, imagine you are a young girl who was recently blocked by the Hall family. You’ve been told by Mrs. Hall, in the most public way possible, that you’re behaving inappropriately. Rather than speaking to you directly, she has chosen to block you and blast the internet with her judgment, saying there are no second chances in her family. You have no chance at redemption or forgiveness. Can you imagine how horrifying it must be to see this posted all over the internet? My heart breaks for these girls. These young girls are finding their way in a world obsessed with sexualizing women’s bodies for the male gaze, combined with the technology for instant publication at their literal fingertips. They are learning to navigate these difficult waters compounded by the complexities involved in discovering their own sexual identity. They are going to make mistakes. They need all of the support, grace and kindness we can muster.

Third, when we treat a young girl as a sex object, no matter how smart or kind she is, she sees herself as a girl who only has worth in her physical appearance. When we treat a young girl with respect and kindness, no matter what she looks like or what she wears, she sees herself as a woman worthy of respect and kindness.

“A lot of people will try and tell you that a woman should watch how she dresses so she doesn’t tempt you to look at her wrongly. Here is what I will tell you. It is a woman’s responsibility to dress herself in the morning. It is your responsibility to look at her like a human being regardless of what she is wearing. You will feel the temptation to blame her for your wandering eyes because of what she is wearing – or not wearing. But don’t. Don’t play the victim. You are not a helpless victim when it comes to your eyes. You have full control over them. Exercise that control. Train them to look her in the eyes. Discipline yourself to see her, not her clothes or her body.” (Nate Pyle)

Bio: Jerilyn Hassell Pool was born and raised in Southern Oregon, the eldest of 8 children. She is the mother of five children, ages 7 to 23. She has been married for nearly 25 years. She has a calling as the pianist in the local Spanish-speaking branch (although she speaks no Spanish) and is active in feminist and LGBTQ communities as a Mormon advocate for inclusion and acceptance. She works from home as a freelance web and print designer.

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