BETSY HART: Of double and different standards
September 15, 2013 1:40 AM

Is there a double standard as to how we treat girls’ sexuality versus boys’? I don’t think there should be a “double” standard — but there should darn well be a different one. Precisely because in many ways it does take a village to raise a child.

In other words, I (gasp!) tell my girls to be thoughtful about how they dress and the messages they are communicating to others, very much including boys, in the process. Right now I’m waging that battle. Their tops I seem to have covered, literally and figuratively, but we are fighting over the length of their shorts. Colder weather can’t come soon enough for me.

Meanwhile, I do tell my son that how he dresses communicates how he respects himself and others, too. But I will never worry that my son’s, or any son’s, attire will send a girl on the other side of the lunchroom into hormone-laden sexual overdrive.

I deal in reality.

The parenting blogosphere has gone wild after a mom of three teenage boys banned from their social-media life the girls who were sending sexy “selfies” to her sons. Selfies are photos that kids — and others — take of themselves and then post.

Kim Hall, the director of a women’s ministry in Austin, wrote on her blog to some unnamed girl, an avatar for all the girls her sons know, “I know your family would not be thrilled at the thought of my teenage boys seeing you only in your towel.” She went on to explain that once a boy visualizes a girl in a sexual way, it’s hard to get that image out of his mind.

Well, duh!

What’s driving some people crazy is that this mom is supposedly holding girls responsible for sexualizing her sons. Can’t boys just be taught to look beyond the towel, not underneath it, and respect a girl no matter what?

And what about that photo of her boys on the beach flexing their muscles while wearing swim trunks — a photo she herself had posted for a while? Isn’t this all a double standard?

No. In general, men are more sexually oriented, more likely to be promiscuous and more easily sexually aroused by visuals than are women. Countless studies have backed up this intuitive if politically incorrect understanding. In other words, there’s a reason Playgirl magazine never really went anywhere, and why women prefer to see men in swim trunks as opposed to tiny Speedos.

Conversely, the erotic thriller novel “Fifty Shades of Grey” never gained traction with men — no visuals! But it was wildly successful with women — as soft-core bodice-rippers have been for decades — in large part because the eroticism was wrapped up in an intense and ostensibly romantic relationship. And, it seems, the “safety” and distance of the printed word. No visuals.

Now here’s the crux of things: I believe there is no moral difference to boys and girls, men and women, behaving sexually outside of marriage or, for that matter, indulging in pornography via words or image.

So you bet I have different standards, based on how differently each gender is (wonderfully) wired. Of course, our culture today hates the fact that men and women are different. However, that obstinence only leaves our boys and girls vulnerable to a host of dangers.

But that understanding is why, out of consideration for others and for my children themselves, I will continue to encourage my son to put on a clean shirt before going out. And I will continue to battle with my daughters over the length of their shorts.

Reach Betsy Hart at

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