The F Word: Dear Little One

In case you missed it, there’s a video circulating the internet that features a series of (really adorable) little girls who are using the “F bomb” in the name of feminism. The idea, I suppose, was to shock viewers into awareness about the sex-related inequality in our society and perhaps sell some t-shirts in the process.

My thoughts on the video fluctuate:

WHO WOULD LET THEIR CHILDREN DO THIS?

I guess they are just trying to make a point. 

But my foremost impression of this shocking display was: I hope my daughters (and sons) never feel the need to speak like that, and I hope I provide them with the education to choose their words more effectively.

af31450c46c424b77c00a1ecdd7f0efeAdmittedly, I don’t have a daughter, though one day God-willing, I hope to. Frankly, I would never endorse my 8 or 9-year-old participating in this kind of advertisement for a variety of reasons but mostly, because I would hope I would have taught them better than to resort to foul language to make a point. It inspired a lot of thinking and reflection about what it means to be a girl, a woman, a feminist, a “lady” in 2014: What does ladylike really even mean anymore? Is it something we should strive to teach our daughters? How do we teach them to cope with an increasingly progressive world? How do we teach them to address sexism, inequality, and harassment? Do we need to tell our daughters to give a big ol'”F**K YOU to a world that might treat them unfairly? So, I thought, I might write a letter should my daughter ever question her place as a girl or woman in this world.

Dear Little One,

It’s a strange, strange world out there. Your father showed me a video the other day, where I heard precious little girls- like yourself- use some foul, inappropriate language. It made me think of you, and how I would hope that you know better. But, more than that, I hope you know why to use better language. The people who created this video were trying to make a point, that girls in our society are treated unfairly, and deserve to be respected and equal members of society. I want you to know, Little One, that those people are right. So I wanted to tell you a few things about what I hope for you, as a girl, a young lady, and a person.

1) The F word is not just inappropriate, but it’s a cop out. It’s an easy, inflammatory way to make your point. Allow me to explain: Your father and I will work tirelessly to ensure we’ve provided you with the finest education we can give you. Bearing this in mind, I would hope that your education both in the classroom and at home would have introduced you to a vocabulary that is vast and allows you to say exactly what you think and feel. You are going to have all sorts of opinions and thoughts that you’ll want to (and should) share with the world, but when you do, say exactly what you mean and with the best words you can find to make your point. There will be plenty of time for the F-word.

2. You can be anything you want. The world will impose all sorts of expectations on you, but you should know, that we will always support anything you want to passionately pursue. That being said, being that you are God’s gift to us, we will expect a lot from you. Whatever you do, be it karate, soccer, ballet, or circus performance, we will expect and encourage you to

2eb2fa3322df47ae8fc18c89f86fcd00adamantly work to be your best. I hope I’ve set an example for you that anything worth doing is worth doing well. You are allowed to go to school anywhere you like, for anything you like. Just not The University of Florida, or Notre Dame, or… Well, we’ll get to that when the time comes, but know that whatever you do, you will never have a bigger fan than you have in me. Never, ever.

3. You can love however and whomever you want. I know your father dreads it, but there will be a day when your affections will shift to someone else. I don’t care about their race, gender, or socioeconomic status. I care about the content of their character, the purity of their heart, and the way they treat you. I pray that the relationship between your father and me has taught you a thing or two about unconditional love, grace, and friendship. And, when the time comes, for you to pursue those relationships in an intimate and sexual manner, I hope you’ll consult me so I can help to guide you through what can be confusing waters. Know, Little One, that your body is a precious gift from God. That being said, your choices are your own, and I only hope that you have the self-respect and wisdom to approach those situations with clarity and confidence.

4. Feminism has a lot of faces. To believe in equality and women’s rights, you don’t need to burn your bra or attend protests. Although, if this is how you choose to do it, I won’t stop you. I hope you’ll carry out your beliefs in ways that are true to yourself: If you are a stay at home mom or heart surgeon, you have the same worth and the same rights as any other woman. You can honor and respect your husband, be a caretaker, or be the president… These things can all inherently be feminine, since you are a woman, and that’s part of what’s awesome about being a woman.

5. Never sacrifice your faith in spite of public opinion. You’ll get a lot of flack for it, but Daddy and I don’t bring you to church every Sunday for the music. Should God find His place in your heart, you stand up for that. There are a lot of people who will call you naive, who will mock your faith, who will question your beliefs. This is natural, as we share the world with people of all backgrounds and religions. That, Little One, is what makes this life so exciting. Respect the thoughts and beliefs of others, and preach with your actions more than your words. Though I will always be a phone call or a screech of “Mom!!!!!!” away, sometimes my guidance might fail you. Should that happen, you need only look up. I wished I’d been told that far sooner than I was.

6. Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude. Like I mentioned, this world is full of inequalities. There will- and have been- many of times you’ve proclaimed “BUT IT’S NOT FAIR!” Whether you’re arguing with me about having to share your toys with your brother, or whether you lost a job opportunity to a man with less qualifications, I will always remind you of the same, harsh reality: Life is not fair. When you face these obstacles, my hope is you’ll keep your chin up and find your way come hell or high water. If you face inequality as a woman, I hope you’ll use it as motivation to get a law degree or start a non-profit. A tantrum will get you nowhere, except time-out. (Which is probably where you are right now, if you’re anything like me.)

7. Say what you mean. When the day comes- and I know it will- that you proclaim “FUCK,” I hope you understand it fully, and you mean it. Whether it’s over a burnt casserole or a lost vote on the floor of the senate, I hope the bright, good-hearted and tenacious woman I raised will use her words. You have my permission, when a man stares a little too long or makes an inappropriate gesture, to give him one BIG “Fuck off.” I won’t even tell Dad.

Most of all, I hope you know that by being a woman, you are inherently a powerful creature. Being a woman is what gave me you, and that’s just the most powerful thing I’ve ever done.

-Mom

4 thoughts on “The F Word: Dear Little One

  1. Ciaran McCloskey says:

    Where to start…

    Let me begin by saying I THINK I agree with your overarching message of the above post. However, just to clarify what I am agreeing with, I’ll summarize what I gleaned of your thoughts because, to be honest, you seemed to take issue with language in the above video, and then extrapolate from that: things concerning faith, equality, feminism, gratitude, opportunity, etc.

    What I agree with, is that it seems you’re a little put off by the exploitation of these young women by their parents, producers, directors, and whatever other members of the team it took to make this video. They exploited their children in much the same way as the parents/producers/advertisers/etc behind the business that sprouted Toddlers in Tiara’s, Honey Booboo, etc. And really no amount of exploitation of children should be taken lightly. If that is what you were meaning as a main theme, then I agree.

    However…

    It does seem to me that in order to shoehorn our children into being “whatever they want” we have actually robbed them of the freedom of becoming whatever they want. As an analogy, I imagine in my head parents locking their children in a room, their last words being “you can be whatever you want, stay in there until you’ve decided what that is.”

    In your letter to your hypothetical daughter seemed to me to be dangerously close to this mindset. I tend to think that if a child is truly free to become whatever and whoever they want to be, you should never have to tell them, “oh by the way, be whatever you want.” In the back of my mind I kept waiting for the shoe to drop; for the implied “except” to come. Because it seems obvious to me that what you actually meant to say was “you don’t need to resort to such tactics as these people, because you can be whatever you want to be, EXCEPT you can’t be those people.”

    I think you tend to prove the point of the people who made the video. You’re exactly who their target audience was. To you, the entire exercise was unladylike. Their point is that who are you to decide what is and what isn’t ladylike? I don’t know you from Eve, but from reading a few blog posts and pinterest and such things, you seem to be quite the traditional “lady.”

    What I took away from the video was that they’re trying to spur conversation. But asking (and I’m paraphrasing) “what’s more offensive, a girl saying fuck or how women and girls are treated in society?” they are urging people like us to have this exact conversation.

    To rebut your first point of “The F word is not just inappropriate, but it’s a cop out,” I would say, why is the F word inappropriate? At what point did we give such words so much power over us to offend? Why, when stubbing my toe in the dark, does yelling “DAG NABBIT” elicit any different reaction than “FUCK”? They mean EXACTLY the same thing in that context. So why be so sensitive? I think this covers point 7 as well. Say what you mean. “Fully understanding” fuck versus “fully understanding” oh golly gee willikers? I think truly full understanding would lead you to admit that they have the same meaning, and only because society says so is fuck any worse.

    I think I summarized my rebuttal to points 2, 3, and 4 already. Those three points I feel can all be lumped together and are addressed by my above thoughts.

    Now I feel like point 5 came out of left field a little bit. Now it’s pretty early, so maybe my memory isn’t great, but nowhere in that video did they mention religion. But since you did, I’ll touch on in briefly, only because I think you directly contradict yourself with its content. You starting with a lot of talk about loving whomever and however she chooses, and how she can be anything she wants to be; essentially you’re imparting your desire for her to be free. Yet you begin your points on faith with the fact that you and your husband will be taking her to church every Sunday. No before that offense gets raging again, I am in no way implying that you would force her to comply with your specific religion or faith for her entire life. As you stated, and I believe you, you will love her no matter what. But if her freedom was really such a major issue to you, I would think that you wouldn’t feel the need to expose her to such powerful ideas as church while she is so malleable. Indoctrination is a harsh term, but I can’t think of a word as appropriate when describing the involuntary exposure of someone so young without their express interest.

    So the last point I haven’t covered is 6, “gratitude gratitude gratitude.” And I think it’s actually a great way to wrap this up. You seem to want to impart a slight sense of “life isn’t fair, so get over it and move on,” in so many words. But I think this is the cop out you accused the word fuck of being earlier. To shrug your shoulders and say, “life’s not fair.” It’s quite easy to say and then move on, just keeping our chins up. But this is where I think you missed the point of the video, and what I think is the real point of modern feminism. Why not strive to MAKE LIFE MORE FAIR, instead of accepting it as unfair? We will obviously never erase unfairness, but we can try can’t we?

    Sorry for the rant.

    • blakelygrace says:

      Hi there! You make some great points, and while I did write this as a overarching message to little girls (and boys) out there, it is specifically for my child. Specifically for my home.

      There is really only one point you made I feel I need to speak to, and that is the one of faith. You are absolutely right: beyond a certain point, I cannot insist that my children know and accept Jesus- that is something that they will do on their own, or will decide isn’t for them. But, it is my responsibility as a parent and a Christian to introduce her to what I know to be the greatest truth on earth. You’re right, it IS a powerful idea. One that I would hope she’d be introduced to. Because a faith in Jesus in no way stops her from being who she wants, loving who she wants, etc. Religion, maybe. Christ, never. The only things I will INSIST on sharing with her is that I love her, that her father loves her, and most of all: Jesus loves her. If that’s a lot for you, I get it.

      If I could say that I can successfully raise my children without subconsciously imparting some of my own “isms” on them, I’d be lying. But faith isn’t something I’m concerned with taking a neutral stance on… I’m not going to force the issue, I’m merely hoping that I am an example for her as a woman of faith. You can honestly take or leave that one, because I don’t feel the need to explain further. I am not a perfect woman, person, Christian… What I am is grateful for grace I don’t deserve, and that is really that.

      I think, it’s important for you to remember that I will also demand a knowledge and thirst for other cultures and religions. I will expect that she know, tolerate, and celebrate the diversity that makes this earth so colorful. In her heart, it is my HOPE (not demand), that she accept only one as the truth.

      As for your last point… perhaps you missed the part where I encouraged her to use the opportunities she has been given to- instead of complain about them- take action. In your words, “make life more fair.”

      Again, this letter was to my child, from my perspective. In no way do I think I am a mold for which every woman should strive to achieve. You perceive me as a “traditional lady,” so, for the sake of diplomacy, I am going to take that as a compliment.

      Thanks for reading!

      • blakelygrace says:

        Are you referring to her posing for Interview Mag? I think she’s a grown woman, making a bold choice, and I applaud her for it. It’s very different from the “F Word” video, made with the exploitation of children, using words and themes they likely do not fully understand. (Though, sometimes I think kids have better answers than adults.)

        I like that her reason for doing it was to show people what her body really looks like. She’s right- Women’s bodies are battlefields, and I think it’s important to show other women that no body is cookie cutter, and that Hollywood has had us all fooled. Again, she’s a grown woman, fully aware of the decisions she’s making. They wouldn’t be the same as mine. Out of respect for my husband, my body is reserved for his eyes only. But, I think that’s what’s great about being a person, and a woman, in 2014. That she and I can make different decisions, and neither can be wrong.

        I think, maybe, a part of my post you missed was that I didn’t discourage the F word… I discouraged the need for a little girl or boy to use it, because at that age, what need do they have for the F word? I don’t like the word when I use it. Because its a cop out. The information in that video: wage disparities, sexism, rape statistics… That, to me, is more powerful than the F word. They could have delivered the same information, in a similar format, without having to exploit children into expressing anger that they might not fully understand just yet.

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