By Lisa Barr
I’ve been thinking a lot about “Submission” lately — how it affects our daughters, especially young teens who “stick” with guys who are not good for them, but who are too afraid to let them go. Submission, thanks to the erotic 50 Shades, has been romanticized, and publicized. In real life, however, submissiveness is anything BUT romantic — there is no Christian Grey waiting at the end of the rainbow.
This weekend’s news was the cherry on the Submission Cake … in a Chicago Sun-Times cover story (plus a two-page inside spread), the head coach of a local high school girls varsity basketball team self-published a sexually-explicit book — a Playbook, if you will — called It’s Her Fault — and not surprisingly, after its release, he subsequently “stepped down” from his position at the high school once the word got out about his so-called Self-Help” book.
Here’s one notable quotable to digest: The easiest kill for a man is through the young lady with low self-esteem. (“Kill” meaning getting inside a female’s pants.) Not to mention the writer/coach also served as the school’s ONLY male guidance counselor (nice vetting), AND he moonlights as a bouncer at a strip club at night (even better). In his graphic book, the coach describes in detail the color and texture of vaginas from various races and ethnicity — and big surprise, he too is focusing on the Wonderful World of Submission. He discusses the pleasures of power aka: DOMINANCE: How to get a man to submit (using the lessons he observed from the strip club) and all the ways to get a woman to submit (I don’t even want to think about where he got his material — given that his day job is working with high school girls).
And mark my words, this “Coach” is going to take his sleazy book all the way to the bank.
The joke’s on us. We submitted to him. Giving him EXACTLY what he wants: free press/media attention/and all the trimmings — ME included — given that I’m actually writing my blog about this.
Okay, so after I calmed down and closed the newspaper, I thought about it: What this man was capitalizing on — submission and women — is not so far-fetched. Those things that outrage us, always have a semblance of truth — whether we like it or hate it. Submission HAS to be examined.
Having a house constantly filled with girls, having been an overnight camp counselor, and having worked for a women’s magazine and (practically) an all-women’s PR firm, I have seen this particular equation over the years too many times to count: If we somehow submit to a guy’s needs,Then he will like us ... more.
Here’s a familiar scenario: “Lindsay” is a beautiful teenager, talented, smart with lots of friends, but insecure. Never feeling she is good enough, pretty enough, or enough, enough. Enter Matt — an athlete, a nice guy (when he wants to be), but truthfully nowhere near Lindsay’s quality of a person.
And yet …
Lindsay believes that if she doesn’t “put out” then Matt will definitely find someone else (read: someone “better” than her). She admittedly “loves him and hates him” for what he does to her … but she simply can’t let go. In her mind, he is far more worthy than she is.
Lindsay, sadly, is not unique. Nor is she unique to this generation.
Many of us (including this writer) have had THAT GUY in our lives — the schmuck who gets under your skin, who knows your vulnerability and how to use it to his advantage. He gets to you … and you keep coming back for more, because you think he is going to change, even though the only thing that is consistent is that he disappoints you. But he keeps you “roped in” by throwing a bone your way — saying he’s missed you and he’s sorry/saying he HAS changed/and the biggie: No one is “hotter” than you. And then … believing we are the “one” — we repeatedly submit to his whims just to keep him. Dignity, self-respect, has been boxed up and shelved, or simply, thrown out the window.
Most of us, eventually wake up and realize the Boy Next Door is so much better for us than the Bad Boy in The Bed. But epiphany comes with lots of pain along the way.
And worse, somehow Bad Boy manages to transcend time and work his wily charms upon our daughters: He will say I love you (to move quickly around those “bases”) … he will “chat” her late-night on his schedule … he will get pissed-off if she starts to like someone else and then shows her the attention she has been craving just so she dumps Potential New Guy … and then of course, he returns to his old pattern. Truthfully, many of these Bad Boys don’t even know they are playing this game but they are just naturals, and their method seems to “pay off” — so why not?
Submission … being immersed in the Middle School World, Teen World, and Blog World on Girl Stuff … I’m pretty up on trends. Here’s one that you should know about. It’s called Snapchat … my kids have this free and very popular iPhone app, and so do many of yours. The premise: You can send someone a quick snapshot of you — and they get it for a few seconds (up to 10) and then it allegedly “disappears” into thin Cyber-air. Sounds really fun, right.
Not if your daughter or son is a teenager who is sending sexually-explicit photos or who is playing strip games with it — kind of like “Chicken.” Each snapchat entails a piece of clothing removed … and from my understanding — boys try to “build” their “number” by collecting how many girls they can get to do this. And sadly, girls are submitting to this game. Kids aren’t afraid to play because they are led to believe that any shot, no matter how daring, vanishes. They trust the most UNTRUSTWORTHY system that has destroyed in my mind an entire generation (but that’s another story). All it takes is one smart kid who has his/her camera ready and times it just right. Presto — a snapshot of a freshman’s breasts — has now been made permanent.
Talk to your kids about this. Make them aware that YOU are aware. Many kids truly believe Snapchat is “safe” and NOT sexting because the photos are allegedly ‘gone’… Explain to them the dangers, and that permanence is a possibility, no matter what the app claims. You know me by now, I don’t trust Cyber-Space antics, even if my kids do.
This is the Teen World of Submission, and it’s not going away any time soon. My advice: Sit down with your daughters (and your sons) … sit down with your nieces (if their Moms are not present), and share your experiences and knowledge. Be open with them, and don’t shy away from sex issues, even if they won’t talk about it. Get them to listen, at least. Help them recognize what is not good for them … what kind of love IS good … and the real consequences of sexting.
Be clear that sex itself is not bad … but sex for submissive reasons (to keep him interested out of fear that he will leave) IS. Don’t be afraid to GO THERE.
– Focus less on your daughter being pretty — Admire her for her strengths.
– Focus less on your daughter being popular — Teach her to choose those friends who make her feel good about herself, and to drop the “mean girls” and the “users.”
– Focus less on how cute your daughter’s boyfriend is – and more on how he treats her. Does he treat her well? Is he a good friend? Does she truly feel good about herself when she is with him, or does he leave her empty … and wanting MORE?
– Define MORE for her … Getting MORE (meaning the guy’s attention) should not be a price paid — i.e. blowjobs or hand-jobs to make her boyfriend happy. Be straight — actually use THOSE words if your daughter is a teenager. They might cover their ears — but trust me, teens have selective hearing — and THIS they will hear.
It’s Her Fault is going to skyrocket in book sales. Media Attention attracts Media Attention. Look for this coach on talk shows, in PEOPLE magazine, everywhere that a buck can be made — that guy will be there, guaranteed.
My advice: YOU have the power to turn the station or the page. YOU have to power to teach your children the same. YOU have the power to teach your kids dignity. Start now. Give them the tools they need to make good choices, so when you are not there to guide them, they won’t submit to that which hurts them.
Teach them the True Power of No is No … and Yes is Yes BUT only when it’s deserving, and on their terms — not someone else’s.