The Girl Next Door

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The Girl Next Door

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A dozen years ago, a friend of mine was zealously vocal about protecting his then junior high school-aged daughters from young men. He somewhat seriously quipped that he would not allow the girls to date until they were well into their 20s! They were delightful girls, pretty on the inside and the outside. I could readily understand his protectiveness!

Actually, the girls grew up to be fine young women and, undoubtedly, their dad’s loving protectiveness played a part.

However, the sons of these now grown women may need the same kind of protectiveness— from girls . There has been a dramatic cultural shift in America, affecting the present generation of young teens in a profound way.

Whereas parents once instinctively sheltered daughters, warning them about undisciplined and unscrupulous young men, parents must also now warn their sons about predatory young women. Girls in their early teens routinely approach boys at parties to offer to perform sexual acts on them.

“Young women are leading the way in tearing down sexual taboos in North America, where teenagers are having more sex at a younger age than their parents and grandparents… Freewheeling young women in the United States and Canada first have intercourse at the age of 15, partake more in oral sex than previous generations and are far less prudish, according to a landmark new report by California’s San Diego State University” (“Young Women Lead the Way in Tearing Down Sex Taboos,” AFP, Oct. 4, 2005).

There have been several high profile cases in the United States in the past year involving female teachers who are charged with sexually assaulting students. Fox News ran a piece on the subject last February, titled “When Ms. Teacher Goes After Male Pupil.”

Reporter Catherine Donaldson-Evans cited Louis B. Schlesinger, a forensic psychologist at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York: “These are teachers with boundary problems. Their boundaries are very fluid.”

Young women being misled

In other words, they do not possess the internal character that shouts, “No!” to any sexual thought about a student. Notice this prophecy of the end time, which is usually framed from the perspective of men, not women. But modern culture is turning women into the worst of male character: Aggressive instead of gentle, sexual instead of loving, secular instead of sacred.

Paul foretold: “You should also know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control; they will be cruel and have no interest in what is good.

“They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act as if they are religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. You must stay away from people like that” (2 Timothy 3:1-5 2 Timothy 3:1-5 1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
American King James Version×
, New Living Translation).

The sexually aggressive female is common fare in television, movies, comic books and music videos. The media’s portrayal of women began to change about 35 years ago with television programs such as The Avengers and Charlie’s Angels, which were followed by fare like The X-Files and Xena: Warrior Princess. Women were cast in leading roles that showed them as tough and aggressive. Hollywood reflected a feminist influence, which sought to change sexual stereotyping from the controlled and misused woman to the woman in control.

They succeeded, but not for the good of young women. In recent years, the TV show Friends had a teacher have an affair with a teenage boy character, getting pregnant by him. And Desperate Housewives continues the theme with a sexual liaison between a housewife and her neighbor’s son.

“Over the past three decades tough women have become increasingly prominent in the popular media—in television, films, novels, women’s magazines and comic books. Sherrie A. Inness discusses this development in Tough Girls: Women Warriors and Wonder Women in Popular Culture (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999)” (Barbara Clarke, www.vanderbilt.edu/WomensCenter/june99bookreview).

Inness shows how the “media both reflect social changes and help to shape consumers’ attitudes.” Teens form a sizeable block of the consumers of media today, which means that entertainment is shaping their thinking.

Instead of promoting feminine values, Hollywood promoted aggressiveness and sexuality, such as with Halle Berry in last year’s Catwoman movie. Comic books introduced a host of female characters in the genre of Wonder Woman, further blurring the lines between true beauty and sensuality.

New stereotypical woman

Video games added their touch with the sensuous Laura Croft ilk. And, like her character, some have been made into movies, perpetuating a new stereotype: the sensuous and aggressive woman, thereby exploiting women even more.

Music videos are powerful tools, merging music with visualization. Among the pop stars using this tool in recent years are Madonna and Britney Spears with their burlesque-style performances. Teens imitate the attitudes and the dress of the popular and wealthy performers.

Not all music videos are evil, for they can be a wonderful means of conveying positive messages, not merely the extremes of dirty or depressing behavior.

There is a wide array of entertainment used by teens today that parents may rarely consider. They include electronic and Internet-based games, portable DVD players, iPods, camera phones, text messaging, Internet messaging, Internet cameras, Internet chat rooms and personal pages on youth Web sites.

Young women can photograph themselves in scanty clothing and provocative poses with their camera cell phones and post the pictures on an Internet site in a matter of a few minutes in the privacy of their bedrooms.

Girls that you would never suspect of being wild or immodest are doing it. Girls from Christian homes are doing it. And they are posting their names and e-mail addresses along with their indecent pictures!

Why would they do something like that? They are simply following a fad, without realizing the potential danger in doing so. Unless they consciously choose to resist, they cannot help being swept into the current that runs so strongly through their world. Unless their parents discuss modesty with them, and unless their parents provide them with clear guidelines by which they can make godly judgments, they are unlikely to acquire good character on their own, in school or from their friends.

We can help our teens!

Mature women must consciously work at being role models. Western women commonly wear “belly shirts” and low riding jeans, seemingly wanting to look as provocative as possible. The West has marketed this image abroad. Our office recently received a letter from a young person in Nigeria, lamenting that the exact same situation is now common where he lives.

Have women forgotten that there is a difference between being attractive and appearing sexual ? One is attractive first and foremost through her character—something rarely thought of in today’s world and perhaps, little understood.

Add to that her personality, temperament, grooming and, then, dress. The dress should be modest, complementing her character, but also pleasant and stylish. “Stylish” poses a problem, because clothing manufacturers produce items that sell, and what sells today is clothing that exposes the body. A woman of character might have to work harder to shop for items that are appropriate.

Teach these values to your daughters, as they begin to mature physically. Realize that almost all of the other “voices” speaking to them are advocating the twisted value of external sensuality.

Parents need to provide their teens—girls and boys—with guidelines for using the many marvelous communication tools that are available today. And then parents need to monitor how their children use those devices.

Cell phones and the Internet are powerful means of communicating, and they can be wonderful means of building and maintaining friendships. But they are equally capable of causing great harm to young people.

The forensic psychologist quoted above spoke of the lack of a sense of boundaries. A boundary is a mental “no trespassing” sign, so to speak, telling us not to enter a certain area. Who sets boundaries for teens? In many cases, it’s the media—but it should be their parents!

But by what standard do parents set boundaries? The Bible reveals the foundation for wholesome standards, and God’s Ten Commandments summarize them. Parents, learn what God says is right and what He says is wrong. Then help your teens choose the right and shun the wrong. Tell them how and when to apply the biblical advice cited above, “You must stay away from people like that.”

We can help with our booklets The Ten Commandments , Making Life Work and Marriage & Family: The Missing Dimension . We also publish a magazine for teens and young adults, Vertical Thought . WNP