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In case you’ve been living under a rock, Gillette recently released a new commercial that is largely a commentary on masculinity and modern manhood. When I first watched the short film, I felt tears well up. I felt a sense of relief. It felt like a sign of momentum for a movement that I am invested in. A year ago, I wrote an article warning the hopeful that ‘if men stay silent, this movement will end’. So I see this ad as a sign of men breaking the silence…a sign of progress.
As it goes, all social progress is met with some backlash. But backlash to this campaign? I was truly shocked. Why would anyone interpret this as an attackon manhood, men, or even masculinity? The boys are not playing with Barbies. The men are not staying home baking while their wives control them. This commercial features men being quite masculine. The men in the Gillette ad are using their power, strength, and assertiveness to call other men out who are being disrespectful or worse. It is encouraging the many men who step up instead of turn a blind eye to violence and bullying. This action takes courage, leadership, and decisiveness….all masculine qualities that we love! In academia, we call this active bystander behavior, which is one of the only factors that have been shown to reduce instances of sexual assault and harassment.
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Summer is here and if you’re like many parents, you have booked summer camps for your kids to attend, so they don’t drive you insane *COUGH*, I mean, so they have a well-balanced summer. Camp can be summed up as new kids + new adults = new social dynamic, so now’s the time to brush up on convos about bodies and boundaries.
I want to start out by saying that the majority of sexual abuse is perpetrated by someone the victim knows well (1), so stranger danger doesn’t quite live up to its reputation. But next up in perpetrator probability are people who your kid knows well but you do not (2). Hence, summer camps! Now, mind you, I’m writing this post as a mom and sex educator, not necessarily as the prevention scientist and professor that I also am because (to my knowledge) there hasn’t been a ton of research on summer camps.
But really, summer camp is so fun! I went to them as a kid and send my own kid to them, so I don’t think they are dangerous spaces. But they are spaces for kids to apply their social knowledge and practice their social skills in a new environment. Consider addressing the following:
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What would you do if you found out your son was posting images of naked women whom he and his friends had sex with? Perhaps even non-consensual sex with? What would you do if you found out your daughter was at a party, and a guy undressed her unknowingly, photographed her, and posted it on the internet?
Unfortunately, this stuff happens and sometimes it is called revenge porn (1). Even though revenge porn website enthusiasts swear their motivation is nothing but an opportunity 'to look at real naked women’, in reality, the act of uploading a nude picture to punish a woman for leaving you or to boast about you %#$*ing her, is less of an act of sexual expression and more similar to the criminal behavior of stalking and harassment (2). In general, we know that at least 1 in 5 women have experienced sexual assault (3), with many women experiencing sexual assault within their first two months of stepping foot on a college campus. This means many of you reading this right now have a son who has sexually assaulted someone and 1 in 5 of you have a daughter who will experience sexual assault before she graduates from college.
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A couple of years ago, I wrote an app guide that went viral on BonBon Break and For Every Mom. So I’m back with another app guide for 2017! Bad news: there are more apps to be concerned about. Good news: the kids are alright. Most kids use their apps responsibly to connect with friends whom they already know in a friendly and respectful manner. However, that doesn’t mean that parents should check-out. The following apps have the potential for harm, especially for kids and pre-teens. There are 5 categories of apps that I think all parents should be aware of: the (1) major players-these apps are used by people of all ages, but might have potential for danger when used by minors; (2) vault apps-these apps hide images, videos, and messages and are often used to hide nude images; (3) live casting apps-these apps allow your kid to broadcast whatever they are doing to wide audiences in real-time; (4) anonymous apps-these apps allow users to make posts or comments anonymously, so they are often used for bullying; and (5) messaging apps-these apps allow the exchange of text, pics, videos-but some have features that instantly delete content. It’s important for parents to know the kinds of apps that are out there in order to have impactful conversations with kids about safe social media use.
‘Sexting’ is typically referred to as sending a nude photo through a phone. There is nothing new about sharing a nude photo with a beloved. You just used to have to go to a seedy photography shop to get your film developed, or use a Polaroid and hand it over. The chances of lots of people seeing the photo were low. Remember needing to spring for double prints? Now, within seconds, thousands of people can see your nude photo depending on which app or website it gets uploaded to. Stats on the prevalence of sexting among teens are unclear, because studies range between 9%-60% (1, 2) of teens reporting that they have ever shared a nude image of themselves. So it’s difficult to tell how common sexting actually is. In order for us to address sexting in a realistic way with teens, we must first understand the sexual culture they live in that normalizes sexting.
About this Blog:
I'm here to help us discuss sexuality, gender, sexual media, and social media by integrating information from academic and mainstream sources. I do this so you can be informed about what is going on in the sex research world and apply the research to your life. I hope this process produces more sexually competent people who raise sexually competent kids.
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