32 3

Should I Worry?

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.

cmontes 5 June 11

Enjoy being online again!

Welcome to the community of good people who base their values on evidence and appreciate civil discourse - the social network you will enjoy.

Create your free account


Feel free to reply to any comment by clicking the "Reply" button.


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.

What this guy said


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.

MsAl Level 8 June 11, 2018

I agree. Men should not be shamed.


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.

dance1 Level 3 June 11, 2018

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.

Kimba Level 7 June 11, 2018

And the totally laughable thing is that in my teenage years you could elope with a girl and get married at Gretna Green at the blacksmiths. The politically correct and ocpd control freaks seemingly are in the ascendancy. I thank you for having raised a very important issue which everyone seems to be avoiding. To it, I add the point that everyone matures at different rates and therefore imo such blanket laws are denying the rights of the child and I question "why do some people and governments wish to deny children the right to grow up at their own rate of progress".


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.

CK-One Level 6 June 11, 2018

Its difficult because im divorced from his dad who raped me when we were married. Every time i have had incidents like this with my son his dad tells him not to worry and that im the one with a problem. I want to teach him not to be like his dad but his dad tells him objectification is ok. He doesnt know what his dad did to me and i prefer to keep it that way until he is an adult

@cmontes It is better not to traumatize him, agreed. But since you are doing that it might be difficult for him to understand. My suggestion is to show as little judgment as possible and explain the negative. He might still look at women. That might not be something that you can stop completely. It is normal at some level. It does not mean that he is going to mistreat women. Teach him why it is bad and what the consequences are for him and for the women. Once again, be careful about your objectivity. Too judgy plays into the father's hands.


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 ?

Tbey are accounts on Instagram that ask ti follow him to get themselves more followers. 'Models' posed very provocatively and with barely any clothes


Art, fashion, sculpture, drawing, medicine etc are all involved with the study of the human figure. Your son may be studying for an educational purpose.


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.

xyz123 Level 7 June 11, 2018

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. ?

I might also add that at 15 he probably qualifies for the title of young Master Bates so you might want to consider respecting his privacy a little more to avoid an American Pie style incident which might traumatise the poor lad (and you) for years 😁

@SimonCyrene Hah! 15? After being molested by young female nurses at the age of 7 my curiosity and introduction to Portnoy's complaint started 8 years previously.

@FrayedBear not sure why you have addressed this comment to me particulary lol. But thanks for sharing ?

@SimonCyrene You brought the topic up to give me the segue. ?


Boys will be boys ! Leave him be but with a little guidence !

I don't like that saying. Thats how rape culture survives. Boys will be how we allow them to be. Not saying attraction to women and images isnt normal but allowing it to create a sense of entitlement and ownersip of a womans body is

I said that ?? I don't think so ! I SAID WITH GUIDENCE.


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😘

    • start the conversation by telling him in general terms why you want to have the conversation, but without going into any specifics or details, yet. Focus on principles like respect, boundaries, and disrespect.
    • don't have this conversation and discussion at the end of a long day when either of you are tired.
    • Find a quiet, comfortable place to hold the discussion with no distractions, including tablets or cell phones.

*The process😘

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.

    • Continually confirm what he heard in the context of what he said.
    • listen carefully to his words, remain curious, and make sure it is an interactive conversation. Teens today are often more worldly than most generations which proceeded them.

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.


Yeah, no, he is not open to those kind of conversations with me. Hates if i even bring up girls, girlfriends etc. Not sure why but he hates anytime i try to have any personal conversations. Hoping its a phase but suspect my ex husband tells him to ignore me.

@cmontes Yes, that must frustrate you, it would me. What other options do you have? Whatever you decide, i wish you and your son well.

@cmontes Sounds like the first thing you need to do is establish whether your belief is true or merely your projection on to him. Furthermore, how did you learn that he has these particular "friends" and are you agraphobic? If you have been breaching his privacy by spying on him or invading his private territory I'm not surprised that he would be adverse to the conversation. I vaguely remember a famous American author once was attributed with having said "When I was 13 I could not believe how stupid my parents were! By the time that I was 21 I could not believe how much they had managed to learn."

@FrayedBear Well said.


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.

Good luck. 😉

scurry Level 9 June 11, 2018

Good day,

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.

Count Level 5 June 11, 2018

I think that some of those women are just smart business women. They see an opportunity to make money and go for it. It would not be my choice but I think more power to them. What do you think?

You can have respect for yourself, even without clothes on.

@Mea I am not sure what you mean Mea? Would you care to explain?

@Mea, @patchoullijulie I understand what you are saying about these women taking advantage of a business potential. But, at what price to themselves? I don't feel that although a situation is marketable and potentially profitable, that it should be done.

@Count, the amount of clothing you wear or the lack thereof has no bearing on who you are as a person or the way you should be treated. To suggest otherwise is not too far away from perpetuating rape culture and victim blaming. Let's not imply that women have to dress "modestly" to respect themselves--because respect and the amount of clothing you wear, have nothing to do with one another.

@Mea I must agree with you when you say that the amount of clothing you wear or don't wear has no bearing on who you are as a human, or the way you should be treated. But let us be truthful and bluntly honest. In theory you are correct but the facts of life and human nature dictate different. Rape is something I would condemn to the point of the death penalty, but victim blaming in "non- rape" or physical harm, I have to stop there. If you desire to walk in public nude, or dress scantily you are inviting humans to act on instinct. That said, you must accept the reactions, and actions.

And while not dressing modestly does not mean a person does not respect themselves, it simply means they don't respect the society they wish to be part of.

If you willingly walk in a dark alleyway, you accept the possible dangers.

@Count, blame should go where blame is due. If you leave your home unlocked, are you inviting me to rob you? We both (hopefully) know that robbing other people is wrong. Sexually assaulting other people is wrong. If anyone's "instinct" is to sexually assault someone, they are in the wrong. Dressing in certain ways may attract negative attention, but the blame should always go on the person committing the crime. Somebody's clothing or the lack thereof, does not force another person to sexually assault them. An "instinct" excuse is bull shit because you could attribute any behavior to instinct.

@Count, and why would anyone want to respect or call themselves a member of a society where if they don't dress a particular way, they're blamed for being sexually assaulted?

@Mea With respect, if you leave your door unlocked, no you are not inviting someone to rob you but you were not prudent. It could be argued that an insurance company could potentially deny a claim because you did not take precautions or found negligent.

As to human instinct, remember I do not condone sexual assault in the least. But what we are talking about is a person (woman or man) dressed in a way that it is natural for others to gawk. Come on Mea, women walking around in spandex, thongs that are clearly visible or lack there of, Camel toe, etc...are you saying running around like that in the public they are not aware that people will look and minds go in all directions? Heck, SEX SELLS. It's on TV commercials, printed ads, etc. And when a person tries to convince others they should be able to dress as they wish in public without being harassed or gawked at, they are being totally unrealistic. I personally think it's disgusting to see women dress like this in public. What kind of examples are we setting for children that see this? It is bad enough that technology has brought indecency out onto anyones fingertips at any age. It is the decline of a society with morals and pride. No one likes rules, I get it, but rules keep order and without order you have anarchy.

@Count, I along with most everyone who has this conversation with people who victim blame, understand that our behaviors have the potential to increase or decrease the probability of negative or positive interactions occuring. We understand that dressing a certain way may increase our chances of being harmed. I'm not disputing the fact that certain attire increases the probability of being assaulted, I'm disputing the idea that the attire someone wears gives someone a right to assault someone else. The person assaulting someone else is the one at fault and that's really all there is to it. I understand that we do not live in a perfect world and that there are bad people out there, but people cannot be expected to go through life playing every aspect of their life "safe" to try and avoid those kinds of people. To expect women to dress "modestly" all of the time to try and avoid being assaulted takes power away from women and reinforces this notion that women's bodies are inherently sexual and that men have the right to use women as sexual objects. We should not have to live our lives in fear of being assaulted. Our morals are not the problem, the assaulter's morals are the problem. On top of that, even if you took every possible precaution you could still end up being assaulted. It is not unreasonable to ask sentient organisms capable of making their own decisions to not harm or harass other people. People should be allowed to live and act anyway that does not harm other people. How people dress has no bearing on your well being, but assaulting them very much so harms their well being. The human body is beautiful and children do not see our bodies as sexual. Allowing people to embrace their bodies and wear what they want shows children they do not have to be ashamed of their bodies and creates a more accepting generation of people. Allowing people to wear the clothes they want without subjecting them to assault will hardly cause the world to descend into anarchy. A good rule that isn't reinforced enough, would be to punish those that assault others. If you would like to continue this conversation you can send me a message, otherwise I'm done replying on this thread because these messages are very lengthy and are becoming unrelated to the initial poster's thread.


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.


It's natural.

Society's objectification of women isn't, but that's not his fault.

You can't really intervene, just in the way your own parents didn't intervene. He's becoming an adult in his own right.


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.

These are professional pics not of his friends. They seek out boys to follow them and sometimes have links to more pornographic material.


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.

Deb57 Level 8 June 12, 2018

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?

I left my ex because he raped me. Not a goos place to look for support

@cmontes So sorry you had to experience that vile act.

In that case I would recommend option C for now.

That very unfortunate fact would make it scarier for you. It would also make it harder for you to maintain the necessary cool when talking to him. The goal is to establish in him, an ability to communicate effectively and empathize genuinely with women. Do you have any female friends who might be able to establish rapport with your son? Open, honest communication with any women might then generalize. I suggest they should avoid "getting right down to the subject. you are concerned about. These things will come up if he can first establish trust and communication, perhaps based on some common interest like a sport of hobby..


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'?

To treat women as objects to possess.

@cmontes -- If that was the message he was raised with, then I wouldn't worry too much because those lessons tend to stay with us. Mine did. Though I would be sure to try to reinforce that message, I would be cautious so as not to get a backlash that is unwanted and unproductive. Also, give yourself permission to understand that you have done what you could. If it doesn't stick, it is not a failing on your part. All people, even our children, go their own way eventually and it isn't always to our liking.

Write Comment
You can include a link to this post in your posts and comments by including the text q:104346
Agnostic does not evaluate or guarantee the accuracy of any content. Read full disclaimer.