The other day, I was with a certain five year (arguably, the cutest) and she was seated with her legs hiked up, wearing a skirt with shorts underneath. Her loving relative (who I have LOADS of respect for) told her to close her legs. Immediately I thought, how would this be different if she was a boy? What if a boy was sitting like that in their own home? Before I finished that thought, the five year old replied, “I’m wearing shorts.” To which she was told, “it doesn’t matter, sit like a lady.”
I could see her confusion, and it really bothered me. What was she thinking? What ideas was she forming of her body and sexuality? Did she feel confronted or uncomfortable about sitting in a way that was not at all immodest, but “inappropriate” because she’s a girl? Will this affect her when it comes time to have sex, go to an OB/GYN, and/ or have a baby? She was clearly conflicted enough in the idea of modesty to speak up for herself, but was she conflicted enough to form an idea based off of that encounter? I don’t know, and the beauty of child psychology is that I can’t just ask (because she’s not yet developed enough to communicate emotions/thoughts of that nature), but I can wonder.
There are a lot of unknowns and very few facts in the world of double standards, so much so that I will not go far enough to say that boys aren’t told to be modest and girls are, because that’s very subjective. However, I will say that I definitely formed an opinion for when the time comes for me to raise children. I will never consciously (it may slip, I grew up hearing it) tell my daughter to “sit like a lady,” because quite frankly some of the most beautiful moments of her life will require her to spread em’. I will be sure to emphasize my ideas of modesty for both my boys and girls (if I’m fortunate enough to have both), but not because of their gender. Modesty, posture, and conduct are important, but never more or less important because of their sex.
This is not a “boo-hoo” I am a woman debate, as I am highly aware that double standards are no respecters of sexes. However, it is ideas like “sit like a lady” that create minds that form the large stereotypes both men and women struggle with today, and I will do everything in my power to prevent that cycle to continue in my own children. I want my children to understand that their is no shame in their sexuality, gender, or body; rather that all three are beautiful and best reserved for the right circumstances.
What do you guys think?
Lucy Loves Life…and child psychology xx