This week I have been in Las Vegas at the National Association of Broadcasters Convention. It’s not my cup of tea, but it is my husband’s life and breath so I tag along as a supportive spouse, pretending that I understand what the technical production people are talking about.
After all, how many ballets, Phantom of the Operas, musicals and other shows has he sat through with me?
Anyways, I have no clue what language is being spoken, it’s a cross between science, math, engineering and Klingon. I’m like “Lights? Sure I know how to change a light bulb…” But, I’ll gladly endure the long days of tech talk as long as I’m hanging out with him. Because, to be honest, I really, really, really like the guy.
Of course, with the convention taking place in Vegas, you get to see a LOT of things.
SO. MANY. THINGS. Things you can’t un-see. Ever.
And while some of the things are more on the “What the heck?” spectrum, the other things hurt my heart. Like the women that leave nothing to the imagination, as they stroll up and down the strip in their “costumes” promoting the shows that are X rated, or the young girls, barely clad, calling out to tourist, taunting them with feather boas and the promises of a good time.
Our first day here at NAB, while we were walking from one part of the convention to another, I saw shirtless young men promoting their show, “Thunder Down Under”. Honestly? I rolled my eyes and was like “Really? That’s the name you’re going with?” There was a large group of women, walking by the “Aussie Cowboys”, ogling them and asking if they could get their pictures. And you know what? I didn’t think twice about it until we got a 100 or so yards down the sidewalk. Then I realized something. I had a double standard. I wasn’t bothered by the men on the street peddling their bodies. I didn’t think any less of the women who gawked at them. Truth be told, I didn’t have any thoughts about the women who attended those “type” of shows. It was like my mind was empty of all assumptions and judgments of the female tourist in Vegas.
BUT. The men who stared at the girls in the costumes, the guys who would attend the burlesque shows? In my “non-judgemental” mind… they were SCUM.
Why? Why was I okay with women looking at men as sex objects but not okay with men looking at women as sex objects? Why was a Chip-N-Dale type show not even on my radar but the XXX Girl shows made me want to scream at the women “Don’t do this to yourselves! You are better than this! You are valuable and worth so much more!”
Why the double standard in my life?
We have two boys, and two girls. We would be devastated and heart broken if our daughters chose a lifestyle of female objectification, putting their bodies on display allowing men to lust after them. My husband and I are doing everything in our power to make sure our girls know they are more than beauty. We are constantly teaching them that they are brave and bold, compassionate and strong. We push them past their comfort zones to do things that will strengthen them and cause them to grow. We afford opportunities to them so they can prove to THEMSELVES that they are MORE THAN the images that society will try impose on them.
But what about our boys? The thought that they would turn to a lifestyle of male objectification and peddling their bodies for money has NEVER entered my mind. Why? They live in the same world as our girls. And I had to pause; because I wonder?
Do we tell our boys ENOUGH that they too are brave, bold, compassionate and strong? Do we make sure they have self-confidence? Are we running down opportunities for them to prove to THEMSELVES that they are MORE THAN what society as a whole expects them to be? Are we quick to pick up on the fact that they point out what they think are flaws with themselves?
We tell our girls all the time “Don’t compare yourself to that picture or that person.” Do we tell our boys that? Do we tell them not to compare their abilities or looks to others?
My heart has been broken this trip and softened. Not just for the women and girls that are here in Vegas but for the men that I saw as well. I know some of them like their work and do it because they like the money and the attention. But, for the all the ones that “enjoy” their job, I know there are the ones who are doing it to mask other things such as trauma and low self-esteem to a deep need for “love” and attention, even if it’s from strangers.
As I’m sitting here in the airport, getting ready to board my flight home, I’m convicted about the double standard I’ve been living. And I’m more determined than ever to make sure that not only do our girls know they are bold, brave and strong. But, we’re going to do everything in our power to make sure that our BOYS are being told the same thing. That the up and coming MEN in #teambohl are getting the affirmation and validation from us at home so that they, don’t feel the need to seek it elsewhere.
Strong words; Appropriate because truth is strong, undeniable. Words ringing with clarity of thought in both a city and culture where distraction often masks reality and what’s real inside the human heart. Bravery; both to hear the voice within, and to write, to feel, to look under the first or second layer. To challenge, because challenges produce change. Raise the flag Gena, proclaim the standard that is not only true, but truthful. Love always speaks true, love changes, love heals. Thanks Gena.