I have a 15 year old boy. He has an Instagram account and i see that he follows a bunch of scantily clad women. I don't like it at all. I think it is really an objectification of women and i didnt raise him that way. BUT I don't want to make a mountain out of a mole hill. Should I - a) tell him to unfollow those accounts and explain why i think its bad. b) make him take them down and punish him for it. c) Ignore it because its just 15 year old curiosity and hormones? I don't want to overreact but I also don't want to perpetuate the boys will be boys mindset that allows so much sexual assault to go unchecked.
I think it's normal for a heterosexual 15-year-old boy to be visually drawn to women, and I don't really see it as unhealthy or objectification. Teach through example what it means to respect others (regardless of gender), but if you make a big deal out of this you may be sending the message that sexual desire and attraction is something to be ashamed of. If he talks about how hot women are or about the physical attributes of girls at his school, it might not be a bad idea to nudge him a little and ask about personalities, what their positive qualities are otherwise, etc., to gently remind him that they're people, and what's on the inside is important, too. But I wouldn't be concerned that he's sexually attracted to the feminine form. That's healthy and, in my mind, not an indication of disrespecting women.
Check out the accounts and see what they are. Just because they have scantilly clad women. does not mean they promote rape culture. How does he talk about women and girls? No amount of ethics will prevent him from having sexual desires. Sexually shaming kids is not great. Making boys and men ashamed of their sexuality does nothing to turn around rape culture. On the other hand if you do feel that content is inappropriate and disrespectful it could be a good opportunity to talk about treating women decently.
None of your choices seem to recognize and respect his independence. Do you have a relationship with your son which would allow you to express your concern without demanding control? Interest in girls is natural. Scanty cladding is also perfectly natural. If he feels free to talk to you about these ladies, a discussion about how the girls feel about themselves might be in order. What are their goals in life? What things are their idea of fun. What do they like in school etc. Sexual assaults are the result of a lack of awareness (or concern about) of other's feelings. So trying to keep him away from them is probably counterproductive, producing more, not less, objectification. And when you find out what his is thinking and feeling and what they may be thinking and feeling, work very very VERY hard at being non-judgmental. Be prepared to hear some things that you hate or that you find scary. Listen and accept anyway.
There is a 4th option here and that's education. All parents should be talking honestly with their children, age appropriately of course, about sex and associated issues. This should include appropriate ways of dealing with the opposite sex, relationships, and how to identify and deal with abuse.
Yes it comes down to natural human drives, but we must be respectful of both genders equally. After our initial attraction we need more to sustain a relationship or we become solely about sex, not as good as one may think. Lets look at other qualities like @Mitch07102 suggests.
Let the young man know that you don't approve of him following these accounts and explain why. Give him the chance to affect a change on his own. Feel free to enlist his female peers or family like @Donotbelieve 's case. But actually have a conversation with him. It may be a bit uncomfortable, but you will have a positive impact.
Also: Do and or have him do a little research about who owns the sites and what they're money goes towards. Explain to him that in some cases these women are forced to post these pictures. I agree with @Knd502 that some women do own their own sites and are just being entrepreneurial.
Here;s a suggestion on how we men can help this issue. It is something I internalized a long time ago and modeled my three children, and still do today.
When asked to describe a woman, the first things I'll say (let's assume it is someone I like) is along the lines of "smart, articulate, interesting" mention something she's done like a Phd. I seldom mention appearance, unless asked. Mentioning appearance first, especially if you do this when speaking about women and not men, reinforces the objectification.
When my son was 14 we had the issue of scantily clad women on the internet but the problem was that these young ladies were of around his age. While we had no problem with scantily clad or in some cases naked women per se the fact that they were under age made the possession or viewing of these images a crime, especially as it was a family computer his father used as well. This forced our hand to have a chat about it, my son was absolutely mortified when he realised his father could end up in court or worse still jail because of the material he was looking at.
While there really wasn't anything wrong with what he was doing, if a young lad wants to look at young girls and they were sharing these images of their own free will, it's all pretty natural, but the legal ramifications can be serious. So while my personal sentiments would be to ignore it, the sensible part of me says you need to explain to him both the fantasy nature of many of these images and where the law stands in relation to this issue, because it would be horrifying for him to be branded a pedophile for what is essentially normal adolescent behaviour.
It's normal. Talk to him if you can talk in clear terms of what you find objectionable. Don't punish him but give him the best path and guide him in the right direction. Be careful. It sounds like it might be a difficult subject for you. If you know that you cannot be objective, it might be better to do nothing rather than make it worse. Maybe someone else you know might be able to give the message in that case.
c. Ignore it. Provide it is not illegal. I spent my teens at the beach and public swimming pools, couldn't help checking out the girls. I think it is quite normal, that said, I raised a son and daughter as a single dad. We have never had any sort of porn in the house. Scantily clad could be a broad description, my guide would be along the lines of censorship ratings. If its not adults only ?
Men look at women, or at least straight men. When I was a teenager, I looked at every woman that passed. I loved mini skirts. I still look but try not to as it is rude to the person I'm with. I think if you do anything to stop him, it will set up conflict. Anything parents say is bad, the child is going to want to examine. I would talk to him about exploitation of women, but let his mind and hormones alone in this.
Talk to him don't punish him. Don't mention that you have seen his viewing material or risk embarrassing him so he refuses to talk to you. Talk in general terms about the unreality of such images, talk generally about womens issues and the difficulty they experience through society protraying women in a certain way. Talk personally of your own experiences. But most importantly, be brief. Don't go into a rant. Plant a seed and allow him to draw the conclusion, so it becomes his thought not yours. Finally, good luck. ?
As a male and a father ..I am strongly recommending C, it is perfectly 100% normal. I genuinely don't know of any male who wouldn't happily admit to almost identical developmental behaviour at the same age, and younger albeit through different media . Its ok for you to be concerned, but its sincerely normal.
Oh wow. I was once where your son is. Don't envy you this situation. Are you still able to have a decent conversation with him? Can you try and get him to realize that these aren't just objects he's looking at but living, breathing women? A book from my youth that was and is still helpful is 'Every Mother's Son' by Judith Arcana. Speaking only from my experience with my mother please pay attention to boundaries and try to fight the urge to 'fix' this problem in your son. He may not change his behavior right away but if you've given him the right tools to live his life with kindness and empathy and you give him good information about this specific issue odds are he'll eventually figure it out. I truly hope for the best for both of you. Peace.
Not making a mountain out of a molehill is a great attitude to start with. As you said, he is a curious 15 year old, a great attribute to nurture.
It will important to focus on the principles involved; respect and disrespect for all people, not only women.
As others have said, ask him, without judgment or derision, what he enjoys about the photos. Always remain curious about what he says; arguing will only get his back up and the adrenalin and endorphins that will trigger will inhibit his listening or thinking.
I stress my caution against arguing with his views. Always remain curious.
Explain your views. After you speak, in short paragraphs i suggest, touch base with him by asking him what he understood about what you said; words mean different things to all people, especially to teens. This could open a creative discussion.
Ask him what would make him feel bad, disrespected, or ashamed about who he is. Objectification often looks and feels like bullying, so there might be a link to discuss bullying as well.
That will let you bridge to specific famous women who have been objectified, and abused.
It might be helpful to explain what the objectification of women means to the women. If you raised him, he is probably as empathetic as any 15 year old boy can be. Don’t be afraid to ask him what being disrespected or abused would mean to him.
*I would also suggest the following logistics
The interactive discussion i hunch is intended to generate understanding about issues like respect, objectification, and abuse, physical, emotional, and psychological. But he has to understand what these words mean in real life-relevant terms. He is 15 after all.
Once you’ve exhausted the topic, and possibly each other, debrief the experience.
Ask him if he enjoyed the discussion, then if the answer is positive, make an appointment to sit down again to reflect on what you discussed about female nudity, maybe even male nudity, and certainly respect.
If he didn’t enjoy it, ask him to think about why he didn’t enjoy, and what might have made it better for him.
But, if you’re both too tired continue, come back to the subject another day to carry on and convert a negative experience into a positive one.
When we were designing conflict resolution courses for elementary and HS students, we had to take into consideration energy levels, the exhaustion of assimilating new information for them, and limited attention spans.
If you see any signs of any of these, take a break, and come back to the subject when you’re both revived. You can’t force understanding or compliance.
I’ve tried to include the basics, but pardon me if I’ve gone overboard. The better prepared you are, the smoother the conversations will go. I wish you well, and if you want to discuss or debrief, please feel free to message me.
Here’s another website which might help also.
Nobody raises their kid that way for the most part, but it's human nature. I wouldn't worry too much about it. There's a difference between being attracted to women, whether they're half naked or not, and treating them badly...........or sexual assault. That's a huge leap. As long as you can have honest conversations with him about what's going on and try to teach him the "right" thing to do with actual women in front of him, then he will be fine.
I got into a porn stash when I was young...even younger than 15. I was aroused and curious and of course I liked it, and I also seeked it out numerous times. It doesn't mean I was going to turn into a rapist or woman abuser. With some guidance, he will figure out how to be.
You have a 15 year old boy - I think worry comes with the territory.
But I also think that him looking at scantly clad women (or men, if that was the case) is completely normal.
Hopefully there is some open conversation about respect for others and personal boundaries, etc. Discussion about the actual Instagram accounts may be little awkward, unsettling or embarrassing, but I think the situation is natural.
Ultimately, it sounds like you have a handle on the situation and I'm sure you're raising a good kid.
From the choices you gave us, I see the first option you offer as what your heart is telling you (option "a" ). I believe explaining and letting him know that women are to be respected...even if they don't respect themselves at that point in their life.
He’s a boy. He’s learning about women. It’s natural. Ignore it. If you want to alter his perspective of women, talk to him about women. But, no matter what you do, he’ll continue to do it and if you try to force the issue, he’ll find a far more prurient avenue of access than Instagram. If it was in my day, it would’ve been playboy and hustler.
C. It's normal. And, is it really objectifying women if the scantily clad women put themselves there? Isn't attraction step one of the mating ritual?
It might objectification if he is posting rude or demeaning posts on HIS Instagram, versus following attractive women who intentially put themselves out there.
It's totally normal.
Last year I read a study showing that the most well-adjusted children weren't sexually shamed and restricted during adolescence.
In families where children were nurtured, and emotionally close to their parents, promiscuity wasn't an issue.
This isn't one of those choices, but here's my suggestion: Talk about the women with him. Get his opinions on what he imagines their parents would think about their Instagram profiles. Ask him how he'd feel if these were his daughters, or if one was his wife or girlfriend. Ask him how he'd feel if he was dating one of these women and needed to introduce her to his grandparents. Ask him what he supposes these women do to financially support themselves. Ask him what kinds of parents he thinks they are. And most importantly, speculate with him as to what would motivate a person to present themselves to the public in this manner. Are they doing it for money? Desperation? Self esteem issues? The conversation could last hours. Ultimately, this will give your son an opportunity to view these women as fellow human beings who make decisions and choices, both good and bad, rather than just piles of two dimensional flesh. This would be a good exercise for shallow adult men, as well.
Where is your son's father? You have not mentioned him in this post. If his dad is still in the picture may i suggest option d) Talk this over with his father and come up with a unified approach. Then let dad handle the conversation with your son on this issue. Your son will probably be more comfortable and receptive hearing this kind of advise from his dad.
Please consider for a moment if the roles were reversed and this was your daughter! Wouldn't you agree that she would rather learn this stuff from her mom?
Calm and honest without accusation and condemnation. You can explain your position or concern without attacking his quite natural tendencies for a young male going through puberty with a boy's curiosity.
I am a little curious about your statement that you "...didn't raise him that way." What exactly is 'that way'?