Why Erykah Badu’s Opinion Is Dangerous
Dominique Matti

I have mixed feelings on this, and it comes down to a dilemma I see in a lot of issues: real vs. ideal.

In principle, the writer is 100% right. Women — and young girls, especially — shouldn’t have to feel responsible for the behavior of adult men. That’s not how things are supposed to be. But then there’s reality. Like it or not, the way girls and women present themselves can increase or decrease the likelihood of unwanted attention from men. Should it be that way? Of course not. Is it? All too often, yes.

I don’t see talking to my daughter about these issues as putting the responsibility for male bad behavior on her shoulders. I see it as equipping her to live in reality. I can tell her all day long that men’s attraction to her isn’t her responsibility, and that she should dress however she wants. Sure, it sounds great…but that’s not going to change the reactions of the men she encounters. There are plenty of people out there who don’t give a crap about how I think things “should” be.

I struggle with the real vs. ideal question often — body image for example. Telling girls that they’re perfect no matter what their body shape is isn’t going to change the reality that things are tougher for girls when they’re overweight. It won’t change the reality that she won’t enjoy her childhood or adolescence as much if she’s seen as “fat.” So far, while I always talk to my daughter about how things should be, I focus on equipping her to deal with how things really are.

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