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March 20, 2007



Maybe it's time to take a break from bashing the media and start to take a long, hard look instead at the issue of mothers' sexuality, which is, apparently, after a long and well-documented dormancy, enjoying a kind of rebirth — thanks, it is said, to things like pole dancing classes and sports club stripteases.

-- Kyle's Mom, South Park movie soundtrack


I guess I'm not sure what they're trying to get across here. That mothers actions affect their daughters? This is news?
Ok. I re-read it. The point is that the AMA is dumb.

Yes, mothers who obsess about being thin, and count every calorie, and disparage those who are "big" will likely instill that same neurotic behavior over food and weight in her daughter.
And so why wouldn't a woman who obsesses over being sexy and alluring and focuses lots of time on being "juicy" and wearing sassy slogans inadvertantly teach her daughter that those are the thing that are most important to achieve?

I was lucky enough to have problems with the first but not the second. My mom is a classy lady.

I think the most important quote in that is: "How can we teach them to inhabit their bodies with grace and pleasure if we spend our own lives locked in hateful battles of control, mastery and self-improvement? "

What's so bad about self-improvement?

Sam MT

Both parents are equally responsible for preventing dysfunctional priorities and behavior in their children.

The word "father" does not appear once in the entire article. Fathers' attitudes towards appearance & sexuality play a large role in most mothers' and daughters' feelings about appearance. Is it possible that some of the adult women obsessing over their looks and sex appeal, are doing so in part because they know that these qualities were the main causes of their husbands' proposals? Because their husband is the breadwinner and they fear being replaced? Do fathers opine on the attractiveness, or lack thereof, of various real-life and celebrity women within earshot of their daughters and/or wives? Do they unabashedly and regularly go out with their coworkers or clients to strip clubs (i-bankers, consultants), where "beauty" is rather narrowly defined? Do they themselves obsessively work out and count grams of carbs? Etc, etc, etc.

Any article that completely bypasses fathers, while heaping blame on and caricaturing mothers (honestly, amongst what percentage of moms is plastic surgery "the norm"? I have moved around the US a lot, and I have yet to encounter such a "community"), is certainly not wonderful. More like the same old mommy wars crap.

Just for the record, my mom is nothing like the article, and my dad is nothing like the examples I gave above. They are awesome parents, and I am quite well-adjusted. For which they deserve equal credit.


Just read this from AISH:

Suddenly I thought of my mother, may she rest in peace. A beautiful woman, she cared little about fashion, jewelry, or makeup. While my friend Babette's mother used to say to her, "The most important thing in the world is to be pretty and thin," my mother's values were: Be good and be smart. It occurred to me that if I had had Babette's mother, this mastectomy would have decimated my sense of self. Thank God, I had my mother, who from my earliest years had inculcated in me a sense of self not defined by my body or my appearance.

"Everything I need, I have" did not refer, I realized, only to the things and people in my life. It also referred to my inner resources, my strengths, talents, and capabilities. God had prepared me to cope with my mastectomy 55 years ago, when He assigned my soul to the womb of this particular mother, who would raise her daughter with a sense of self that would remain intact even when her body wasn't.


These days, a woman’s body is a continuing work in progress. If you’re young, you need to be older, if you’re older, you need to be younger, if you’re fat, you need to be thin, if you’re thin, you need to be curvy. There is an impossible ideal to live up to for women.

Media does not just reflect the way society operates. It perpetuates and affirms it. So when someone like Topher Grace (who is, arguably not the best-looking man alive) can achieve fame and success, but someone as drop-dead gorgeous as Demi Moore feels the need to go under the knife, one has to wonder what mothers like Demi Moore are thinking everywhere.

This is one of the reasons why I appreciated Sharon Stone’s performance in Bobby so much. She had so much strength, grace and courage; true beauty in effect. And she’s close to my mother’s age!

We live in a media-saturated age. You’ve got music everywhere, sky-high posters of half-naked women, pictures on trains, trams, buses.

It takes a very strong woman to shield herself and her daughter from these ubiquitous media images. Of course, this is not impossible. But the media doesn’t make it easy either

However, most women (at least the women that I know) are strong, beautiful, courageous and graceful with an unshakeable faith in God and their principles. The media and the (perhaps ensuing) social/cultural onslaught on their values has given them even more conviction.

My own mother wasn’t around a lot as we had some financial trouble and she needed to do full-time work. But when she was there, she made sure she made it count. She made sure we had very frank, honest discussions about what I might see on TV or anywhere else. She made sure, that when the TV went off, I didn’t think that that was not what women should be, but simply an image, a sometimes false image and I don’t think my mother could have done that if she hadn’t what it’s like to be a real woman. A dignified beautiful accomplished woman.

So I agree with Warner what I think she’s implying is that women with an inchoate sense of self tend to suffer and their daughters are influenced to "inherit" their suffering, but I don’t think that the media is necessarily separate from this suffering. I think we need to find out what it is that’s driving these women to pole-dancing lessons etc to make them feel special. Media could be a huge player in that.

Ditto to everything Sam said.

On a personal level, I the best thing my parents work as a team and back eachother up, which is a bit of a duh but you don't get good mothers if they don't have good suport. And that's Dad's job.


I have to agree with Sam MT that the fathers role is just as much a factor in this as the mothers.
If a girl grows up around a father who is makes comments about attractive women, has dirty magazines, etc, than that would most likely give the daughter the impression that that is what men want and therefore she should try to obtain those standards.


I agree with everything Sam said as well. However, you have to realize that you (Sam & commentators) are about 10 steps ahead of the rest of the world. As Warner alludes to in the piece, most people--and she herself--are coming from the perspective that what parents model does NOT have an impact on children. Once you realize that it does, then you can get to the point where you appreciate the unique contribution of both parents. But if you still think the culture, the media etc. has the most influence, then you'll never get to that point. So for Warner to shift her thinking about this is a huge step, and I think she does deserve praise.

Alexandra Foley

I am finding this thread so interesting -- especially the mother vs. father discussion. I am in total agreement that mothers and fathers play equally important roles but what is important (in addition to the "supporting" someone else mentioned) is that they are complementary roles. Mothers are the template of womanhood and fathers are a girl's first experience in dealing with men. If your mother is pole dancing and your father is reading Hustler, you've got some hurdles to overcome. Two parents give you two different but equally important scopes on life, similar to your two eyes. Sure, you can get by with just one, but your perspective will be greatly enhanced by having the two different, complementary views.

I like that Warner is pointing out that mothers (and not as opposed to fathers) have some input here. This is great news in my book. If I thought all was lost to their peers, the media, the mall, I'd be really depressed. But knowing that I have some influence on my girls, makes me rest a little easier (it may make others horrified :).

I love what Rabbi Kelemen says about not being able to pass on to your children what you don't have (or have developed yourself). On the one hand, it is a bummer: if I want my children to be charitable, modest, long-suffering etc. I have to be those things myself. But it also implies that there is much we can do for our children. It is also the wisdom that if you have a problem with someone, instead of figuring out all the ways in which it is the OTHER person's fault, concentrate on what is your fault, because that is all you can change. Warner seems to be working in this vein. So instead of it being a "blame the mom" session, we moms should be rejoicing to know we still have some influence around here and concentrate on being worthy role models.

Gotta run. I'm late for my pole dancing class. ;)


This is an interesting article from a popular women's website.


Maybe it's finally reaching the mainstream.

mary o'hayes

I liked the op-ed, I think Warner is really onto something. There are some clueless moms running around in teenagers' clothing, trying to look young and sexy. Our culture knows next-to-nothing about looking appropriately older and alluring.

It amuses me that there are always people who say "Oh, yeah, well what about the dads?" or the schools? the media? you didn't mention MTV! You have to include everything under the sun. The op-ed was about the influence of mothers, not fathers. There can be other op-eds about the influence of fathers. Yeeks.


I like what a wonderful nun told me one time: "A nation rises and falls with its women." I believe it's true.


I have to comment on this topic because it hits close to home. Growing up Muslim I have always been faced with explaining to people why it is that i dress the way that I do. In Islam we are taught that Allah created a Muslims woman dress because we are His honored handmaidens and He does not wish to see us accosted or molested when we are out in public. So I have always viewed my gard as a gift from God to protect me and this I firmly believe. My mother also raised me to take pride in the way I dress and up to this day I always have.

I think of my clothing as the royal garments as a Queen and when I wear my garb i carry myself as such. People treat me like royalty when I am out the men especially. My clothing is modest covers every inch of my body except for my face and hands yet it is stylish and modern. i always get complements on my dress by total strangers.

Mothers have a big role to play when it comes to the way thier daughters dress. And mothers themselves must be careful of the way they dress because they lead by example.


"Sexy with dignity."

When I hear that phrase, I think of pinups from the 1940s or movies from the First 1960s.

While the Bratz-doll look only makes me want to puke, a 40+ year-old still of Audrey Hepburn in her Breakfast at Tiffany's glam-prime can still put my jaw on the floor like a Tex Avery cartoon wolf.


I don't actually know ANY mothers who are taking pole dancing lessons. I do know that when I went to the store to clothes shop for my four year old, I was very hard pressed to find something that did not seem to say, "Hey! I'm hot and ready for sex! Look at my lacy undershirt hanging out of the bottom of my tank top!" I don't think they are selling this stuff because it is what mothers want their daughters to wear. I think they are just bad business men who don't understand that there is profit to be made in shorts that go a little farther than the crotch.

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