TEACH YOUR DAUGHTERS WELL

The following is a long post, but I encourage you all to read it. It's proof that there are still a few good writers in the entertainment industry.

The last time I wasted an hour of my time watching a soap opera, I was 16-years-old. I won’t specify how long ago that was but you can figure it out. Not so my husband. He is addicted to General Hospital. Every afternoon from 2:00 – 3:00, he is on the sofa watching a never-ending display of musical mattress dancing.

I don’t understand why he finds the make-believe lives of make-believe people interesting, but I do hear him laughing a lot so maybe he finds the scenarios a humorous balance to the real problems of this world. While I’ve teased him mercilessly over the years, yesterday I had to give him a big hug and say a sincere “Thank you.”

For the last decade, my daughter Jessica and I have spoken publicly about the need for women to take responsibility for their own safety. We’ve talked until our faces turned blue about the need for women to respect themselves and how first impressions can jettison any chance of success in this competitive world of ours. I never doubted for a minute that Mike was onboard with our message, but never did I think our message would find support on a farcical serial drama.

Below is a transcript of one short scene from yesterday’s episode of General Hospital. Mike immediately recognized the value in showing it to me. He could have smugly said, “See. They do talk about serious topics,” but instead he merely said, "Watch.”

SCENE: A mother and her 15-year-old daughter are discussing the inappropriateness of the dress the teen wants to wear to a school dance. The teen models the dress for the mother, who struggles to find the right words to teach a life lesson.

DAUGHTER
Isn’t it great!

The mother walks her daughter to a mirror and stands behind her as they both look at the daughter’s reflection.

MOTHER
I want you to tell me what you see.

DAUGHTER
Me… in a beautiful dress.

MOTHER
I see that, too. Do you think the boys at the dance are only going to see the dress?

DAUGHTER
Oscar doesn’t think I’m a slut.

MOTHER
I’m not talking about Oscar. I’m talking about everybody else. One wrong idea and the whole school is going to snap chat about it. You know that.

DAUGHTER
Why should I let anyone shame me for wearing something that I want to wear? I like it.

MOTHER
You know what, sweetheart… in a perfect world, you should be able to wear whatever you want to wear, and no one would make you feel bad about it. But our world isn’t perfect. In these days, women have to be smarter, stronger and tougher to make it through. Especially, when people are chomping at the bit to tear you down. Right or wrong, how we dress sends a message, and when you are a young girl, that message can be taken wrong.

DAUGHTER
That’s not fair! I just want to feel pretty.

MOTHER
Well, you can feel pretty showing less skin. I know it’s not fair, but I think this dress could cause reactions that you’re not ready to handle. Slut shaming wasn’t even a phrase when I was suffering through it, and I was a lot older than you. You have to have quite a few life experiences to handle the mud that is going to be thrown at you. If you tell me that you are ready for that and you can handle it, then I’ll back you 100%. It’s your decision, but if you’re not 100% ready to wear this dress and face the challenges that are going to come with it…

END SCENE

Of course, the result of this exchange could only happen in a soap opera. Mother opens a fashion magazine and offers to buy her daughter an expensive designer original. The girl is ecstatic and the less appropriate dress is relegated to the back of a closet for another day and time.

Despite the unrealistic bribery aspect of this scene, the dialogue is well worth heeding. We live in an ever increasingly dangerous world. Not just physical danger, but mental and emotional danger inflected by nameless/faceless bullies who enjoy tearing others down to build themselves up. Kids… teens in particular… are the most susceptible.

If you have a teenage daughter, find yesterday’s episode of General Hospital and watch it together. Then, have a nice, long conversation about the facts of life, and maybe, spend an hour going through her closet and discussing what's good and what's not.

 

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