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I am not a baseball fan at all. Yet, in the last month, it has been difficult for me to click on any social media or news website and not see references to the Bloomsbury University baseball player who called a young girl a “sl-t”. Thirteen year-old Mo’ne Davis made quite an impact in the world of Little League Baseball when her team made it to the Little League championship playoffs. Because of her pitching and the fact that so few girls ever play at that level, Disney was considering making a movie about her life. Then, on Twitter, a male college athlete, instead of honoring Davis as another athlete, takes to the Twittersphere to post the following: “WHAT A JOKE. That “sl-t” got rocked by Nevada.”

What troubled me about this is that I have a very clear memory of a similar situation in 2013, when an employee of the satirical news site, The Onion, called a ten-year-old girl a “c-nt”.  Quvenzhané Wallis earned an Oscar nomination and, while on the Red Carpet, corrected a reporter who asked if she could call her “Annie”. To that, Quvenzhané replied, “No. My name is not Annie. My name is Quvenzhané.” Soon after, this tweet comes from The Onion’s Twitter account, “Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhané Wallis is kind of a c-nt, right? #Oscars2013”

When did it become okay to pick on our girls?

To read that adult men would use such filthy and sexualized language to attack children on social media is disturbing. Again, my question remains: Where does this behavior start? I would dare say that such a mentality starts early and our church needs to have a better answer than the world.

I was recently listening to young girls talk about how self-consciousness develops early. The stares and inappropriate comments start as their bodies begin to mature. A few of them stated how they wanted to wear baggier clothes, to stave off attention, just when walking down the street. Our children need to be taught that they are not sex objects, that they have intrinsic value, because they carry the image of our Creator.

Years ago, I remember reading an article about a mother who was exasperated with her fifth grade daughter’s school. Fifth grade boys on the school bus were calling her daughter, who had red hair, “fire crotch”. The mother repeatedly contacted the school; the school repeatedly gave her the “boys will be boys” excuse, and said there was nothing they could do about it. It was not until the mother started using language such as “sexual harassment” that she got the school’s attention. (The article stated that, as punishment, the boys were made to sit behind the school bus driver every day until the behavior stopped.) Why were this mother’s concerns not taken seriously sooner, without her having to mention sexual harassment? And was that punishment really effective for teaching the boys anything? 

What would your church’s response have been in any of these scenarios? I have always said that it is the church that should impact culture, rather than culture impacting the church. So, what message should our churches send? Sure, punishing bad behavior might be the intended outcome. However, does that alone get to the root of the problem? What if instead, we reframed the images and messages our children are receiving, early on? Are our churches learning and practicing a different message for our daughters, as well as our sons?

[Image: Flickr user P J R]


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