More often than not, I'm a pretty laid back individual as far as volatile issues are concerned. I'm not interested in getting into a debate where emotions are charged and both sides are slingin' without thinkin'. I'm a solid member of the camp that is cool with debate so long as its respectful and both sides understand it for what it is. I'm also not confident in my ability to react and retort on the fly (oh, how I'm envious of those West Wing personalities in that regards!). I use my venting allowance with the boy; he's always up for a good conversation, and I like the way he thinks.
Here's one of the rare exceptions to my general way in regards to such matters. This is a blog I happened upon a couple of weeks ago, and I was in dialogue with others who were equally concerned about this matter as well, all around the same time. It's been sticking with me, and as soon as I read this, I knew I wanted to blog about it if for no other reason than it certainly hits close to my own favorite interests. Let me know what you think after I try to organize some thoughts. Really, I welcome other points of view and insights. Anyone up for some respectful dialogue?
I think I may have written about this to some extent before, so if I have and you're groaning at my redundancy, bear with me. I may have something different to contribute.
I have two girls. They're young now, but the effects of how we view, label and treat women in our society filters down even to the toddler and infant sets. Too often, I am wholeheartedly disgusted at some of the clothing choices that are marketed for children who are even this young. In general, I'm not a fan of cutesy phrasing on clothing, but whatever. I don't have to buy it and it's usually innocuous. However, when suggestive, crude phrasing is purposefully marketed to children, that's disgusting to me. Victoria's Secret should be ashamed of ever selling such clothing choices to girls. Adults should be ashamed of buying clothing from Victoria's Secret (since when has this ever been a suitable clothing store for pre-teens?) with suggesting sayings on it. Society should be ashamed that we think so highly of females that we create clothing choices for them with demeaning and belittling messages.
We should be embarrassed at what we feel categorizes beauty in females, of any age. Conforming to a standard and accepted dress code is a constant battle in high schools. Females are encouraged to flaunt their bodies--sometimes via subtle choices, sometimes flagrantly so. It is difficult to the point of nearly impossible for girls and teenagers to find clothing that is a) affordable, b) suitable to wear and c) stylish. There isn't anything wrong with girls wanting to feel attractive by any means. Yet the fine line between tasteful and coquettish is far too thin.
We should be embarrassed at how we label females and all things feminine. In what universe is it okay for us to admonish boys for "crying like a girl"? How does this ever create either a healthy understanding of self for the boy or a healthy understanding of mate/partner/friend in regards to a girl? Crude and vampish sayings displayed across clothing demeans our understanding of what a female is, if nothing else.
We should be embarrased with how we advertise to females and how we use them in advertising. OF COURSE males also earn the short end of the stick as far as how they are represented, often being misconstrued as foppish, dull, inept, and/or stupid. Does the sexualization of females become negated by the sexualization of males? No. Yet we have a very real and very serious issue of forced prostitution and a host of other abuses committed against females in our world. What message do we convey when it is acceptable, even "normal," for clothing to be provocative and okay but abuse and prostitution to be unacceptable? Provocative clothing has a purpose. It just does. It is highly hypocritical of our society to defend promiscuity as being acceptable in clothing as a "way to expresses yourself" but then demand your "self" to be untouchable. One example that immediately comes to mind about how a female is mis-used in advertising involves one disgusting and completely inappropriate (in my opinion, of course) billboard here in town for an insurance company. The picture on the billboard shows the front hood of a car hitting a female pedestrian who is dressed in grotesque fishnets and garish hooker heels. It is overtly implied that the pedestrian being hit is a prostitute. And frankly, there's no purpose in making it so. The advertisement could easily be equally effective given another image. Disgusting.
Raising a couple of girls who value their minds just as they protect their bodies will undoubtedly become more challenging. We have no misguided sense of power that we will be able to wholeheartedly protect them. Our lactation consultant and friend, Julie, sometimes talks about how when her daughter was a baby, she would always say "You're beautiful, and you're smart, too!" It might be a small bit of wordplay, but the implications are great. If only society would be with it enough to understand that slapping the words "juicy" on the back of a pair of short shorts and marketing them to a pre-teen is utterly degenerative to her understanding of self and the decades of work about gender equality.
All of that being said, I'm so glad that I have two girls. I'll take pigtails any day.
"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles." Audrey Hepburn