When is “Sexy” Ok?

Who would have thought Dancing With the Stars would have stirred up a deep and profound conversation about female sexuality in relation to society?

DWTS is easily one of my favorite shows, partially because it’s one of the few programs that The Big Guy and I watch together. Truth be told, First Born Son and Second Born Son have been known to drift in and out to watch a couple of minutes as well, but I doubt they would admit it without prolonged interrogation.

This season that wrapped several weeks ago featured a great cast of celebrities, including American Simone Biles, who is a gifted Olympian in Gymnastics. The girl is AMAZING. Other gymnasts have taken part in the program, and done very well. The first week alone proved that she and her professional dance partner would go far in the competition. Her feet flew, her jumps were massive and she could pull out any trick in the book to wow the audience.

While some would write the show off as reality dance competition, it has come to mean more to the participants. Year after year celebrities discuss the evolution they go growth, the growth as a person.

After a few weeks of being dazzled by the tricks and flips, the judges were asking Simone for more. “More,” they would say, with urgency, asking for emotion and connection. She would take their notes with a fair amount of confusion on her face.

Finally, her partner explains during their following rehearsal, that the judges want her to be emotive, and sexy.

<PAUSE> Simone is 20 years old. For most of her life, she has been training to be an Olympian. This does not mean discovering how to feel comfortable in her skin in a sexualized manner. This means that the only thing she sees when she looks at herself, is a machine that must be in peak condition to be better than her competition. The costumes they wear, while somewhat revealing to the novice spectator, has no emotional or sexualized meaning to the athlete, outside of the flag or national colors that are incorporated into its design.<PLAY>

So smoldering looks? A come hither glance? Hell most 20 year olds don’t do that well, never mind one who will tell you up front that she’s been shelter in a world of competition and practice since she was a child. Emotionally she was stunted and she was becoming more and more aware of this each passing week.

Here’s the rub: another contestant, The Real Housewife of Beverly Hills reality star Erika Payne, known for her overt sexuality, was being chastised for showing it. Was it because she was 20 years older than the young Simone? Was it because she was mature enough to know what she was doing?

It occurred to me long after Erika Payne was eliminated, that for some reason, society is okay with a woman owning her sexuality, within reason, and when society deemed it appropriate.

And “appropriate” was a moving target. If you are younger, and hopefully naive, you can get away with a little more demonstrative. If you cross that line, and seem to know what you are doing, (read here “mature and/or experienced”) you will be told it’s inappropriate. Even younger women who are overtly sexual are accepted or their image is rehabbed. Think I’m off base? May I remind you of Kim Kardashian? I rest my case.

I felt sorry for Simone at the end of her run, which happened to be only a week after the very public instruction to tart it up. She didn’t know what to do, and her frustration was evident in her next performance.

She is back to prepping for the next Summer Olympics, which is more in her comfort zone. Hopefully society will stop criticizing her “hotness” and focus on the other use of her body, being an extraordinary athlete.


Of Boys and Men

What a bunch...

What a bunch…

I am surrounded by Testosterone. Even the dogs are both male.

As one of two daughters, it was extremely enlightening for me to become a mother of two sons. Once the initial shock wore off, I vowed to be the most enlightened and supportive mother I could be. But the male/female dynamic continues to intrigue me.

Take, for example, the roles The Big Guy and I have. We aren’t exactly “traditional” in all aspects of our relationship. He has been very supportive of me showing our sons the range of abilities woman have and how there is no difference when it comes how to treat people, what to expect from people and what people can expect of themselves. Not “men” vs “women”.

However, I have noticed a bit of a disturbing trend. Studies (I don’t have to link them – Google has MILLIONS of links – see you in 50 years) that bring to light a change in the roles we play and why. Women (girls) have been encouraged to go out and be “more”, do “more”, have “more”. That there is no limit to what they can do, and thanks to the Women’s Movement, we have the ability to do everything a man can do.


But what about our boys? What support have we given them in the evolving world of relationships and dynamics?


Now some of what I’m going to say is going to SOUND like I’m anti-female. For the record, I’m not, and since I kinda am  A GIRL, I think I get to say this without any judgement, but perhaps with a little perspective. Follow through before freaking out, ok?


Today, girls are having, on average, 75 sexual partners throughout their highschool careers. Consequently, this means the boys are in the same camp – but follow along. This is a huge increase from 10 years ago, and unheard of a generation ago. The difference today is that girls feel more in control of their sexuality, and while we could debate the reasoning behind WHY a young person is so sexually active at such a young age, I really don’t have time for a Thesis today – got laundry to do.

The trend is not that males are necessarily pursuing females, it’s that females are initiating these encounters on an increasing scale. Traditionally males were the pursuers, now females are the ones reaching out.

This is at the same time where females are entering post secondary education and subsequently the workforce in larger numbers than ever (although we still have to figure out how to make as much as man for the same work, right ladies??) and some would point to selective hiring for minorities as to why that is happening. I like to think it’s because the job is going to the most qualified person – after all, isn’t that what our mothers/grandmothers fought for? Equality? Women are becoming more successful in their careers and pushing of relationships, marriage and family longer and longer.

What are our guys doing?

There are TV franchises built around the premise of the son come back home to nest when he should be soaring because he’s not out making it in the world – because it’s become common within our society.

Women are being challenged to be all they can be. Conquer the World!

Men are the punchline on Wednesday nights.

Think I’m looking too Big Picture?

There was a phone call at our house the other day.

“Is Second Born Son there?” asked the young female voice.

“No, I’m sorry, may I take a message?” I asked.

(flurry of giggles from multiple mouths) “Nope.”

Dead air and the click of phone disconnecting.

I advised SBS that he had a message from an unknown source. He wasn’t impressed. If you remember, this has happened to him before, albeit a little more aggressively.

We returned from a week-long vacation to be greeted by another young girl (we’re talking Grade 4 here people) first asking SBS to call her, then demanding that he call her, and finally berating him for NOT calling her, over the course of four or five messages. BTW – she never left her number.

This time, as in the time previous, SBS was HORRIFIED. A girl had CALLED HIM!? What’s up with THAT? (Remember here that as a household with less than traditional roles, we have not stipulated that ONLY BOYS CALL GIRLS.) He immediately sourced out the “offending” caller at school and reported to me the following day. We talked at length about why it bothered him that she (and apparently an entire room full of friends on a sleep over) decided to ring him up.

What I learned was that he felt he should be the one calling the girl. Now, society has that stereotype out there, but I could also see how this was ingrained in him. It bothered him, beyond what other people thought. This is a kid who was not overly concerned about being popular, and more about being true to himself.

He didn’t know how to be himself if someone else was taking on a role he thought was his.

And that, my friends, is when the light bulb went on for me.

If we are going to empower girls to go higher, faster, farther, then we better be prepared to equally support our boys to understand how to navigate these changes and empower them as well. SBS and I talked about how he may not be comfortable with a girl calling him, but maybe she has the confidence to pick up the phone first. After all, I would think most men would agree, calling a woman for the first time can be an unnerving experience. Less feeling threatened, more feeling flattered. When he’s old enough, we can work through how he can feel better about his role in a relationship, but DEAR GAWD, HE’S ONLY IN GRADE 8!! Maybe next week?

Overall, men aren’t understanding the new dynamic in male/female relationships (let’s be honest – I don’t think they had the “old” dynamic figured out either…) and this was impacting feelings of inadequacy which in turn leaves women feeling like men are not “bringing it” to relationships.

The biggest complaint of dating women who are in the 20s-30s is that Chilvary is dead. Romance is gone from dating. BUT, how many times can a guy hear that his date is more than capable of paying her own way THANKYOUVERYMUCH, or that some “loser” held the door open for her, or heaven forbid – he brought FLOWERS , before he stops making these gestures that he thought made her feel special. You can’t bemoan the Death of Romance while you hold the smoking gun.

If I don’t need you for an income and I don’t need a relationship for sex, and I’m only considered successful if I conquer the world on my own, then really what do I need you for again? Not. Good. For either side.  As women are discovering their own worth, we need to remember the value men bring, before we have a generation of guys who don’t know how to date, never mind be romantic, supportive and empowering of their partner. It’s about give and take. Balance. Equality.

To me, Feminism isn’t the ability to trod upon a man’s sense of self-worth, it’s the ability to enjoy and explore my own. Women can be free to express, experience, succeed and fail.

And so can Men. It shouldn’t be a stigma for a male to be successful, or want to take charge, or want to take care of someone or be the one to pick up the phone first. We need to show our boys that while we are celebrating our daughters, our sons are not over looked.