TG went to a lock-in the other day. Her friend’s church rented out a local YMCA, and TG and her crew had a ball learning more about Jesus, swimming, rock climbing, playing games, eating pizza, and the like. I had so much fun just listening to her recap the evening.
Then she told me about swimming. Oh, don’t worry; she enjoyed swimming. TG loves the water. I think she’s part fish. She mentioned in passing, however, that girls who wore two-piece suits had to put on t-shirts.
My mental tires screeched as I slammed on the breaks of the flow of conversation.
I asked if boys had to wear t-shirts too. TG said no but that many of the boys wore t-shirts anyway. I asked again if they were required to wear to wear t-shirts, and she replied again in the negative.
Then I asked if girls in tankinis needed to wear t-shirts. Again she answered no and reiterated that only girls in two-pieces had to wear t-shirts. I responded that a tankini is a two-piece, to which she agreed, but we both knew the difference. While a two-piece, a tankini offers the same midriff cover of a one-piece.
So girls couldn’t swim with their midriffs out but boys could swim entirely naked from the waist up bearing not only their midriffs but their nipples as well? Really?
I was seething.
My anger wasn’t exactly directed at the people chaperoning the lock-in, but at society at large. I’m not ignorant of why the girls were required to cover and the boys weren’t. Chris, the ever helpful ally that he is, tried to diffuse me, but instead succeeded in sending me over the edge.
The girls were required to cover up because we don’t trust, or even expect, boys to control their libidos. Heaven forbid some boy see a girl’s stomach and become so aroused that he can’t control himself and acts on his pubescent stirrings there at a lock-in. Why teach boys not to objectify girls, and to exercise a little self control, when it’s so much easier to teach girls to be ashamed of their bodies?
And why didn’t the boys have to cover up, even though they were showing more of their bodies than the girls? Because we teach girls from an early age to control and suppress their emotions and desires. We teach them to avert their gazes. We teach them that boys will be boys. And that that is ok.
Chris and I believe in modesty and teach that to both of our children. We also teach them that seeing and experiencing some things should wait until marriage. Chris and I are old-fashioned in many respects.
But that doesn’t mean we’re going to sit complacently in a culture that demands hyper-vigilance from girls and promotes irresponsibility for boys.
All they wanted to do was go swimming at a lock-in. It shouldn’t have to be so political and complicated, but since it is, we’ll help the kids navigate the turbid waters.