Having a conversation about slut-shaming with your primary schooler

Here is a piece written by Airial Clark on discussing slut-shaming with her 11 year old son. It is from Good Vibrations Magazine. I can’t think of anything amazing to say about it, too late at night here, but go read it, it’s really great:

After making me promise I wouldn’t call the school and make a deal about it, he confided in me that some of his classmates were kissing after school. He then told me about a girl in his class, Z, and how she had kissed 3 boys this year, “3, Mom! Can you imagine? And everybody knows. She just kisses whoever she wants and her sister is so embarrassed. I don’t blame her, I would be ashamed to have my sister act like that! Sheesh.”

Wait? What? This is where it gets interesting for me as a sex positive parent. My son just went from wishing he was sexy to shaming a girl for being just that? I rolled up my sleeves and got ready to do some unpacking.

As a parent it is so good to see how other parents tackle these conversations. Cos believe me, these tricky issues seem to come up with your kids when you have the least warning – suddenly, there you find yourself; knee deep in a conversation explaining racist nicknames to a five year old (like I was this week) or slut-shaming to an eleven year old (as in this article above); and you are double-thinking every word coming out of your mouth, wanting to get it all just so; but all the while also trying to do something totally mundane and yet somehow urgent, like reverse park the car or drain the pasta. And you need these parents like Clark to remind you of good phrasing and good questioning and good sense for when that moment with your kid springs itself upon you.

Cross-posted at blue milk.



Categories: gender & feminism, parenting

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2 replies

  1. I can’t find anything useful to add to this post either, which is why it’s taken me so long to leave any comment at all.
    These conversations are the hardest to manage, I think. I usually aimed for an ideal Socratic dialogue, but often ended up a bit more dogmatic, sadly. I’m sure when I managed to keep it more Socratic that it was more effective.

  2. I can remember back to being a young teenager myself, and having these conversations with my parents (mostly my mother) in the evenings after the TV was switched off. I think what I admired so much about the article quoted was the way the mother in question switched the whole behaviour into slow-motion, so to speak, and pulled out all the little nuances. It’s an important skill to learn, for everyone.

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