Tweens, Dating and the Value of Girls and Women

By NADIRAH ANGAIL

I have a brother-in-law (five of them actually, but let’s just focus on the one). He likes to joke about how my son, his handsome nephew, will have a girlfriend when he hits his preteen/teen years. Oh, but my daughter, his pretty little niece, will do no such thing. No boyfriends for her. She better not even think about it.

That’s his thinking. Here’s mine: Neither of them will have girlfriends/boyfriends during that time. I know it is perfectly normal for kids in that age range to have crushes and to already have a budding interest in the opposite sex. I’m completely fine with that (and think it’s really cute), but once that interest develops, they have to understand that certain boundaries need to be maintained to prevent them from making bad choices. I also don’t want them to take the idea of a boyfriend/girlfriend lightly. It’s not something you do simply because you have your first crush or because everyone else in your 4th grade class is doing it too. It’s something you do when you are mature enough to pick out a good mate, one that will have marriage potential.

But anyhoo, that’s not really where I was going with this. Let’s get back to the fact that my BIL wants my son to have a girlfriend and my daughter not to. His thinking is no different than that of many other men (and women, sadly): It’s okay for boys to have fun, but girls must be protected and honored. So, if that’s how you conceptualize the idea of “baby relationships,” who are these girls you expect the boys to hook up with? After all, if the girls you love should be protected and honored, shouldn’t the same apply to all girls? And if it does, wouldn’t that mean you don’t want any precious little girl to have a boyfriend at such a young age?

It’s a problem when we discount the value of those we look at as “other.” It disrupts the sense of community and suggests that some type of human hierarchy exists.

Dangerous.

We love to say things like, “It takes a village to raise a child,” but, honestly, we might as well abandon that adage if we aren’t willing to see the value in all the village’s children—especially the girls. When we teach our boys to only respect the women around them, that their mothers and sisters are the only ones worthy of special treatment, we don’t realize the implicit permission we’re giving other little boys to treat our women with that same disregard. Every young girl needs her innocence protected. There are no qualifications.

And maybe, just maybe, if we extended this type of genuine concern to all little girls, we would have a much easier time extending it to all women. But we don’t. In a similar fashion, we allow ourselves to believe only certain women deserve respect, only certain ones deserve to be treated as queens. Never mind the fact that every woman is queen to someone. We’d rather focus only on the queens in our lives. Damn the rest.

That’s why men can be so cavalier when sticking their ones into the G strings of nameless strippers, regardless of the fact that they’d be absolutely appalled and stirred to violence if someone did that exact same thing to one of their precious women. I must ask, kind sir, what’s the difference? Do the women you love belong to a different and better category? Does the love you have for them afford them entrance into an exclusive group? And is it okay if other men fail to realize that your women are part of that group?

These may sound like rhetorical questions, but I’m actually looking for answers. I’m trying to figure out if my daughter is only valuable to my family, or do others also see what we do? Will the village really help to raise her, or is that just something we say? I pray to God it isn’t.

Nadirah Angail is a Kansas City-based author and blogger. She has published two books and written many articles and blogs that speak to her interpretation of the female experience. Find more information about her and her writing at www.nadirahangail.com.

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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.

2 Comments

  1. I agree on your post. I do not encourage the boyfriend/girlfriend thing. I express to my sons to treat all woman with respect, and I do mean all. They will definitely have to answer to me if I shall every find out that they are mistreating females.

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