Stampede “Prosti-tots”: Adult Perception Skews Their Intent

Well, this is my story about how that happens.  When I was in Jr. High, my best friend and I were given permission to go to stampede together, without adult supervision.  We were so excited, and had our outfits picked out weeks ahead of schedule.  We planned every matching detail, from the hat, to the braided hair, “shirt” and shoes.  Now I put “shirt” in quotations because the year prior there was a fad that was starting to take hold.  And that fad was bandanas for shirts.  Yes, you read that correctly, we had decided that we were going to look so cool wearing bandanas for shirts, jeans and cowboy boots. It was perfect for a number of reasons.  We would be at the height of fashion, we already owned bandanas and the most important to us, was that we would be comfortable in the heat that always accompanies the grounds (plus 35 Celsius most days). 

If this very strange term is new to you, here is a quick definition, “a prepubescent girl (generally 10-14 years of age) who emulates the overtly sexual fashions and attitudes of twenty-something women such as pop stars” (Urban Dictionary).  And I think it is safe to say that during Stampede week, we have all seen a young girl who has fit this description.  It has made many a man uncomfortable and more than a few women glare in disgust.  I mean how could parents ever let their daughters go to Stampede dressed so provocatively?

So here we were, the morning of Stampede getting dressed at our parents houses in our little make shift tops without a care in the world, then off we went to the exhibition.  To be fair to our parents, I am fairly sure we wore hoodies while leaving the house because it is chilly in the morning so they were none the wiser to our attire.  I can also tell you that I know I was not developed in the breast area, and I cannot for the life of me remember if my best friend was or not.  We genuinely felt amazing in our trendy “shirts” and we strutted all day long with Calgarian young girl pride.  I remember a glance or two that felt a little weird, however, we were both incredibly innocent and appropriately naïve so we figured they were just jealous which is a natural pre-teen reaction.

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We dressed trendy to be cool and comfortable.  We even brought sunblock and re-applied every 3 hours to ensure that our delicate skin was protected.  There was NOTHING sexual in our minds when we chose our outfits.  And that is the honest truth.  And yet, looking back, we were the very definition of prosti-tots.  We were those girls who I can only assume were making those around us uncomfortable.  And the thing is, if we had locked eyes with any man getting excited or blushing, we would have laughed in his face and walked away. 

I am aware that today’s young girls are exposed to a much wider range of social media and fashion trends that I was not.  I after all was in Jr High quite a few years prior to the social media or smart phone age.  So, my only exposure to anything socially relevant was the occasional copy of 17 magazine or Cosmo.  In fact, as I mentioned we (my best friend and I) saw a lady the year before wearing a bandana, thought to ourselves that she looked so cool, that we waited a whole year to emulate her.  It was a form of flattery if nothing else.  And we thought we were cool enough to wear clothing that made us look trendy and feel great.  If we were mature enough to go to the grounds alone, we were “adult” enough to wear what we wanted.  We never once thought that we were “slutting” it up to go pick up guys or get attention.

Now for the take away, I believe in a sex positive society.  I also believe that children and youth should never be sexualized or viewed with adult eyes or their biases.  I was a young girl, and I made a completely innocent fashion choice because I yearned to be cool and trendy.  I can tell you that if anyone had scolded or scoffed in my face that day nearly 20 years ago I would have been mortified, and then rapidly defiant!  I was innocent of the sexual perversions of adults and I am grateful that I grew up in an environment where I was safe to make these mistakes.  I cannot speak for the youth of today, but perhaps take a moment before you glare at a young girl/boy for exposing more than you yourself are comfortable with and just look away rather than parent them.  Let children be children.  And remember that we all made mistakes when we were young.  Stop calling these youth “prosti-tots” or any of the other sexualized terms of the day.  And take those first steps to acknowledging that you have a biased mindset as a sexual adult, and that skewed perspective can do much more harm than good when projected towards a young child.

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Jealousy from an Early Age

The other day I was out with a few friends, mostly made up of couples.  One of the ladies that I have known for a while was acting incredibly distant with me.  I would not say we have ever been close, however we do get along fairly well and can make each other laugh.  After a few hours I reached the conclusion without even knowing why, that she must be jealous of me for some reason.  I share this with as much humility as I can muster.  A female I have known for a few years was acting differently around me so I naturally surmised that the only possible explanation for this one time change in behaviour was her jealousy of me.
When I woke up the next morning and screwed my little head on properly, my mind started wandering.  Why did I reach that particular conclusion, why did I not just ask her what was wrong, or even more importantly, if she was ok?  Putting aside my only child tendency to be overly selfish I recalled the first time I was told about jealousy.  I like many young children was having a difficult time with finding my place on the playground.  I was being picked on by boys and girls alike, struggling to find my niche in a new school.  When I came home one day in tears, my mother sat me down and told me that I was being picked on because other children were jealous of me.  I did not ask her why they would be jealous, or even what that word meant.  Instead I accepted it as fact, as all young children do at that age and held my head up just a little higher the next day.  I learned compassion from that chat with my mother, and almost always tried to put myself in another’s shoes when they teased me, and tried to remember that if they took the time to tease me, they must have a reason either jealousy or some other purpose.  It helped a great deal at the time, although now, I am left wondering if jealousy is perhaps something we should be growing out of as we get older.
Is it really OK as an adult to believe that negative behaviour is an extension of a person’s jealousy or lust for something you have or are?  Is believing that sentiment, something that makes us more compassionate humans, or is this emotion one that stunts our emotional development and maturity?  Is this green lust merely a scapegoat emotion, that we teach our children to soften the blow of not being liked?  As adults we are supposed to have education, knowledge, and social skills to interact with our fellow man.  We have the complexity to understand that no one is perfect, and there is little to be gained from secretly desiring something from our fellow man.  If I see someone in what looks like a perfect marriage, does it do me any good to hate the person, or lust after what they have?  Rationally we know it does not, and we have all seen people consumed by jealousy.  We pity these people, and strive to overcome this feeling in our lives.  And yet, jealousy is not habitually left behind in adolescence.  Instead, many of us bring it forward into our deepest relationships.  This negative feeling, learned in childhood which offers very little benefit long term. 
I challenge my readers to share a situation where jealousy in their lives has lead to a positive.  Also to think critically if jealousy, is even an adult emotion and why you think it is or is not, which you can share with me here.  The girl the other night was experiencing something complex that chances are had nothing to do with me.  I gave it a name, a childhood emotion so I could dismiss it, sweet, simple and selfish.

Childhood Games Defining Our Current Relationship Filter

The dynamic between each couple is unique.  One partner may be dominant for a percentage of the time and the other the remaining.  We all know that couple where the woman wears the pants and has the guy by the short and curlys.  Or the abusive relationship, where the woman is uncomfortably submissive.  It’s a pleasure each day to be able to observe the differences and similarities in the interactions of people.  Online can be a skewed window, whereas watching in person people interact there are so many lessons to be learned.  I have often found myself stating that I never want to be that woman, or I would never treat my man like that especially in public.  There is a skillset that is learned from early on for interacting with people, and choosing who we have relationships with.  We have learned the ability to quickly filter and sort through millions of people in our lifetime and arguably keep about 150 on a more than just an acquaintance level.
To learn the basics we as children are socialized with other children.  So much of preschool and kindergarten is guided sharing, and playing nice, societal moulding.  As we progress to recess the boundaries get pushed further to higher energy games of tag, and red rover.  I recently had a conversation about the pros and cons of banning the aforementioned games in the school yard.  We both remember the how dangerous the games could be, but ultimately felt that these social connections learned from these simple games far outweighed the consequences.  For example, take Red Rover, you have two rows of people facing each other with hands held.  If the kid from team A runs and breaks through the arms of two kids on team B they get to take a player back to their team A.  If they don’t break through then they become part of team B.  In a very short amount of time the team has to reach a consensus and strategize the person they would like to run towards them into their arms.  There are many variations, do you want the really weak kid who won’t break through but is then a weak link on your team or do you risk the strongest player on their team not being able to break through and thereby strengthening your own team.  The other team has a choice too, they can decide which pair of people to try and run through there by trying to secure their own stronghold in dominance. 

This is a very simplified explanation, but a few really interesting things to consider.  The speed with which kids are able to make these decisions is amazing.  Kids are able to make judgements in a very short amount of time and work together as a team for a common goal.  Not only are these very snap decisions, but looking back I very rarely remember a time where one team absolutely dominated the other team consistently.  The original teams are picked with two captains who alternate their picks in a very democratic process.  Almost always the teams started fair and ended with a similar outcome.  Now imagine not having the opportunity to learn these skills at such a young age.  Imagine walking into a room without these basics and trying to pick out the person of most value to network with.  This is the new reality we are walking into, where kids are no longer allowed to play these very important socialization games on the playground, and thus when they grow up these skills will take much longer to learn. 

I am very curious to watch the power struggles of this next generation and to see where our society will take us by opting for the safety of our children over making them sound and whole human beings.  There is a price to pay for every decision, but I wonder what this will be on making those connections with a possible spouse.  Just a little blog hopefully to get you thinking about what has defined the social skills you have today and how you may have learned to filter those around you in such a necessary way.