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  • Godwin Cotter

When I was in my teens I spent some time in the reserves, or, to use the parlance of the day, as a weekend warrior. I then realized what the expression "swearing like a trooper" meant. For most of the guys it seemed to become their personal motto: “Be a trooper, use four letter lingo”. However, if a female entered the vicinity, guys would yell at each other to "couth up" and immediately the F-bombs ceased. For some, being polite was almost like speaking a foreign language and they had trouble sputtering out a full sentence after that.

Whatever their faults, it was evident that they had a degree of respect for women and it was enforced by the group. Not great shakes, but a start. What distresses me, having a teenaged daughter, is that little bit of respect seems to be dissipating.

It is vitally important for society at large to tell young females that they are "wonderfully and fearfully made", "in God's image and likeness" and "temples of the Holy Spirit." Given the fact that the fair sex is much more intuitive than the male, gesture, subtext, and tone speak volumes.

However, today’s society does not curtail any of its impolite or obscene talk when a girl enters the room. Far from it. Teen-focused media is always preaching on how to win friends and influence people via female body display. Subtext is that society loves women only via objectification. Recently the Norwegian handball team staged a mini rebellion against their governing body's insistence that they wear bikini bottoms to play the sport. (Male teams wear shorts.) The European Handball Federation fined the team 1500 euros for their body display hesitancy. The story generated about ten minutes of outrage before being forgotten. Regardless, the fashion industry has been doing more-or-less the same thing for decades. The industry standard has always been “let’s encourage more male spectators. Those stiletto heels are dangerous to ankles, do lasting orthopedic damage and give you nose bleeds from the altitude? So what? Beauty has its price.”

Dear readers, do not think I am protesting against those that are good looking. (Though male, I also carry that burden). Nor am I implying that women are more vulnerable to society’s messaging because they are more stupid. Exactly the opposite is true. The male adolescent tends to be a little out-of-it, incredibly tone-deaf, plus they are in possession of very robust egos, verging on indestructible. Kryptonite can destroy Superman, but reality coming up against a male ego is unlikely to win a victory.

Not only that, adolescent males do know that females are "fearfully and wonderfully made" and "temples of the Holy Spirit". The bombastic, F-bomb-laced profanity of my fellow weekend warriors was a manifestation of their nervous anxiety that the female of the species produced in them. They couldn’t keep in it when alone in the safe company of their own gender, couldn’t shush themselves fast enough when a woman appeared. Even Donald Trump, not known for walking back from a previous utterance, was actually apologetic about his locker-room talk when it was brought to the attention of female ears.

However, I do worry about the next generation of females. Today it is hard to find a movie, music video, teen magazine, advice columnist or health curriculum that does have the presupposition that teenage promiscuity is a given. Women pick up on the subtext while their male counterparts barely mouth read the first syllable. The messaging is far more ubiquitous than the words of potty-mouthed troopers. For the love of women, it’s time to “couth up”. For too long society has conflated female worth with her sexual availability. Not with my family, thank you very much.

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