Today I was asked by a class of fifteen year old girls, “what advice would you give to those of us already in a relationship?”
I felt taken aback, put on the spot, and my words don’t come easily when this happens. I wracked my brain for a response and blurted, “Don’t have sex.” They giggled. I smiled, knowing I at least had them listening. I attempted to explain the power that they wielded as girls, and the respect they needed to give to the boys and men in their life because of this power but I’m sure it came out as a jumbled knot of messy ideas I hadn’t myself succinctly worked out yet. So here is my attempt to clarify (more to myself) what I was trying to say.
There is a power females hold over testosterone fuelled boys, it’s a sexual power that inflames desire. It’s an addictive power, one that thrives off knowing wearing this outfit, or swaying my hips in this way will have the affect of fuelling that desire even more. The problem with addiction, is it feels good, and can take over our lives. The advertising and media industry promotes this dynamic between males and females. The danger here, I feel, is girls who get so caught up in trying to be attractive and desirable to boys end up placing their worth and value as a person in how attractive and desirable they feel. Having a boyfriend, or many interested suitors enhances their own self-image. Feeling sexy and flaunting it makes them feel good about who they are. In contrast, a bad hair day, acne, no interest from boys could ruin their own perception of self worth. Power corrupts, and in this context, when it’s let loose without restraint, the corruption occurs in your own heart.
So to those girls in a relationship at fifteen, I would say question your motives. Does it feel good being pursued? Why are you in that relationship, what do you get out of it? If it comes back to how it makes you feel as a person than your reasons are selfishly motivated and tied up in a very worldly view of where a girls value lies.
Your value and self worth must come from deeper within. To find a strength of womanhood that is deeper than your dress and bra size, or the kind of make up you wear. Celebrate within yourself, and the girls around you, intelligence, creativity, perceptiveness, compassion, those inner qualities that show a strength of character. When these are valued higher than desirability, the need of having a boyfriend to feel good about who are you becomes irrelevant.
A relationship is so much more than ‘the chase’ and feeling beautiful to someone. It’s a companionship, a friendship that seeks to lift the other persons well being above your own. Where your pursuit is to see that person you love reach their potential. And that’s why I say “wait” to these girls. Wait, because there will be a man out there who will do more than find you desirable and attractive. He will see your strength of character and value that above the way you look, he will want the best for you in life, including giving your sexuality the respect it deserves. Wait. Give your self time to build on what it really is that makes you a strong woman from within, your character, your resilience. Respect the boys around you and don’t flaunt your sexual power because it makes you feel good to turn heads.
Encourage each other. Don’t be jealous. Teach yourself to look for the inner qualities of beauty each girl holds and praise these.
I think that just about covers it for now. I always kick myself in these moments because I think ‘what a wasted opportunity to speak into these girls lives’. I had so much more to say than just “don’t have sex!” But this post leads in nicely to another post I’ve been working on for a while now dealing with body image and how groups of girls can so unfortunately promote a warped idea of value and worth even amongst close friends. But that’s a work in progress.