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More on positive body image, victim blaming & rape culture

Thanks to everyone who engaged in the enlightening discussion that happened on various platforms, after I wrote this post: Raising My Daughters With A Positive Body Image.

Little Girls Bikini

I had a epiphany in the midst of the discussions that as left me feeling even more confused about what my stand point is on this issue.

I’m not a hardcore feminist and I hardly think myself intelligent enough or well versed enough on these topics to voice an opinion, but here’s the thing, after these discussions and a heated debate with my husband last night, I find myself even more confused about where I stand in all of this.

My confusion and conflict and outrage and everything in between, stems from this comment:

as moms of girls are we saying ‘no you can’t wear a bikini as it will invite unwanted attention’ – is this not then the same message we don’t want to be giving our older girls: wearing a miniskirt means you could get raped i.e.: it is your responsibility to avoid violation and your fault if it fails?

Victim blaming… rape culture…. Things I vehemently fight against but which I find myself so deeply indoctrinated in that my mind, I’m ashamed to admit, does automatically go there. It was during this discussion that I realized, this indoctrination into blaming women and girls for rape, starts out so young. And the injustice of it makes me FURIOUS! And it’s even simpler than victim blaming… teaching our daughters that their bodies are shameful and dirty and attract unwanted attention, it starts so young too.  This idea that “boys will be boys” and therefore somehow except from responsibility while it all falls of the shoulders of girls… Its unjust and it’s not right and it makes me so angry. I know that is a sweeping statement and a generalization but I’m talking about society in general here. 

Follow Sharon’s board Empowering Girls on Pinterest.

My husband sees the injustice of it, he understands my anger but then he says we also have a responsibility as parents to protect our children, which I agree with obviously, so he does not want to encourage our girls to wear what they like and express themselves as they like, to protect them, but this also oppresses them and then I land up feeling so confused by all of this. I want to protect them but I also want to free them, I want them to have the freedom to express themselves through play, clothes, toys or whatever inspires them and brings them joy and I hate that I constantly have to think about how the world contains predators who will take advantage of that, who may hurt them and then society will blame them, because of the bikini they were wearing, the short skirt or tank top they wore, the club they went to, the company they kept. 

And then…. I get so bloody confused about where I stand in all of this… my head starts spinning and I get a headache just trying to wade through all the thoughts on this topic.

One thing is for sure, one step at a time, so for now, Ava is getting a bikini and hopefully in time, I will some how wrap my head around all of this…. in time for approaching the teenage years and all the pitfalls that that will present!

I’d love to hear your opinions on this, you know, just to make my head spin even more! 

Also, check this out, I came across this article the other day and it really got me thinking about all of this:

12 Times Badass Women Fought Ridiculously Sexist Dress Codes In 2015




  • Bianca

    December 16, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    Hi Sharon, I totally hear you on this. I’m not sure how old Ava is but my daughter was 5 when she started begging me for a bikini. (She’s now 7) I too was very against it. I’m not sure why other than that I’m really conscious of the way girls dress these days and dressing beyond their years that I thought a bikini was representative of that. In the end though, I realised it was coming from a very innocent place and the more of a big deal I made of it, the more it would become an issue. Kind of the forbidden fruit syndrome. I’m not sure what the answers are here. For me, my fear is of them growing up before they’re ready to deal with what all those things mean and represent. So I bought her a bikini but a very sweet one and not a ‘sexy’ one. I have major issues with how sex is already being targeted at little kids and this freaks me out! I think it’s great to feel sexy but I think when you’re at an age to understand what that means and when they’re little, they really don’t. So I hear the point of how you dress doesn’t mean you’re asking for it, but I do think the way one dresses needs to be appropriate for their age so that there is an understanding of what being sexy means. How it actually has nothing to do with the clothes that you wear. It’s a hard one to put down and explain in writing. It is so complex. I hope I’ve made some sense here 🙂

  • Pandora

    December 16, 2015 at 7:18 pm

    I hear what you are saying, it is confusing, but it is the reality we have to deal with. So I talk to my daughter about modesty and privacy. She can wear a bikini, but at home only. She can swim in her panties at home if she wants.
    When it comes to clothes, there is so much that is inappropriate for little girls. My personal hates are crop tops, hot pants and high heels. At this age it gets even more difficult because the shops pretty much lump 7 to 14 year olds in the same range, but should a 7 year old really be wearing what a 14 year old wears? Not for me. Luckily my daughter is quite sporty and she loves skorts or shorts, t shirts, and slops. That’s pretty much what she wears. And dresses when something more formal is required. I bought a few dresses when I was overseas recently, they are all knee length and loose, something I battled to find here.
    So maybe I am falling into the same trap of victim blaming, but I’m ok with that if I am erring on the side of caution. There have been a few cases of guys getting caught taking pictures of kids changing at the beach here, so it can even be as remote as that. You don’t even know you are a victim. So for now, we are going to stick with modest.

  • Louisa

    December 17, 2015 at 4:20 am

    Mmm…this is something everyone has to puzzle out on their own and decide. When I was growing up, my parents were pretty strict when it came to what was acceptable to wear out and how a lady should behave. When I did get raped at 16, I was wearing shorts and a T-shirt. Clothes have absolutely nothing to do with it. With my own daughter there are also things that I steer clear of, not because I want her to be ashamed of her body – and she’s not – but because I feel that a lot of what’s available for little girls is not appropriate. Why would you wear something accentuating the breast area when there are no breasts yet?! One of the girls in her class is wearing a training bra!!! There is nothing to train at this stage. I say no, because I feel we are pushing our girls into clothes meant for teenagers. We are stealing their youth! And it has nothing (at this age) to do with slut shaming or not. But that’s my two cents on it. Every parent has their own views on this, and I’m okay with that.

  • nunu5

    December 23, 2015 at 9:35 am

    Interesting thoughts – as my 20 month old runs around in her nappy most of the time not one I have had to think about yet. Also sun exposure worries me hence my boys think that going without a shirt is not on :). I had a lot of convincing to get them to see that men do swim in just shorts sometimes even though their dad does it all the time. But he will stop once I find a large enough rash vest so I can save on sun screen.

    With the short shorts that are fashionable right now there are many judgmental comments going through my mind when I see 12 year olds in them. I will have to think again.

  • nunu5

    December 23, 2015 at 9:38 am

    The next discussion to think about is sexuality – I am trying to be very relaxed and advanced but it is hard to go against your upbringing. There are some texts that say sexuality actually develops young and we need to let our kids know there is nothing wrong with it, but there are boundaries based on what they are ready for.

  • Mom Of Two Little Girls

    November 8, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    Love this. And again, you are right. It’s not their fault that there are perverts out there. They SHOULD be allowed to wear what they want and go where they want and do what they want without having to protect themselves from the evilness in the world. But for now for us I’m going to enforce my ban on the bikini in public as I am not brave enough to allow them to wear it in public. I don’t really see it as anything to do with them really, it’s me and my way of protecting them until they can make the informed decisions for themselves. When they are teenagers and fight me on it then I’ll deal with that then. But for now this is just the way it is for them. Thanks Sharon.


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