And when this fictional daughter of mine finally became, physically, a woman, I would want her to feel comfortable in joining in all the reindeer games of flirtation. I would want her to be proud of her body. As much as I would instinctually want to dress her in a burlap sack and hide her from the prying, seedy eyes of her hormone-possessed male contemporaries, I would teach her that she has two rights, when it comes to her body:
1) It is okay for her to look sexually appealing.I would want her to feel the joy of being appreciated for her aesthetic charms. We all find it gratifying to be "looked at" (in a polite way, at least) by the opposite sex. It's good for the old ego and it is nice to feel attractive. It spawns some wonderful poems, too.
2) It is okay for her to deny access to her sexually appealing self, at any time.
|"The Storm," by Pierre Auguste Cot|
I know there are those who would crusade to deny the difference between the sexes... Sad.
Anyway, I would want my daughter to take pride in her body and to demand respect at the same time. But, once one crosses the line from sexual pride into a place that implies a desperation, one loses a good amount of perceived credibility.
In an actual sexual situation, for example: If a woman throws herself at a man and makes it perfectly clear she wants to "go the distance" -- maybe she even outright says it -- and then changes her mind, it creates quite a problem. For absolute clarity: Yes -- a woman has a right to say "no" at any time, regardless of the circumstances and a man has an obligation to stop when he is told to, whenever the moment occurs. We all have to admit, though, once we get to a certain point, it is, at the very least, more difficult for both parties involved to do the right thing...
So, before that point, I would encourage my daughter never to subscribe to the kind of desperate sexuality that seems to pervade our times and that, consequently, really confuses things -- especially the notion of respect.
There is a big difference between the accidental low fall of the top of a dress line in a candid picture and the carefully pulled-down neckline and strategically pushed up breasts in a bathroom "selfie." In the former, the viewer says, "Wow -- she is sexy." In the latter, the viewer doesn't do the talking; he only hears the subject of the picture begging for his sexual attention. Granted, that works on some dudes; but not the smart ones.
I would want my daughter to understand that not only does the accidental sexiness of the first picture present a woman with more self-respect, but is also holds a whole lot more sexual power.
We are all allowed to be sexy. It is the prelude to one of the greatest gifts of life: sex, itself. Desperation cheapens that gift, though, the way it cheapens everything else.
One man's "sexy" is another man's dismissive head-shake.