Monday, June 30, 2008

Pornification of girlhood

I was interested in this Quadrant article by Melinda Reist on trends in modern commercial culture towards the sexualisation of girls. Girls are increasingly taught that their bodies are their major asset and the main source of their self-worth. The important thing is to be 'hot'.

Despite the internalisation of many of the ideas in the 'women's movement' many young women seem to me to lack a sense of autonomy. Modern dress styles mirror this. Freedom and fulfillment are endangered by a promoted need to be desired.

Reist's arguments are a bit exaggerated - and a bit worn - but, overall, they are a good read. They came at the same time as this Senate report on the sexualisation of children in the media - policy recommendations are here.

Public policy responses to the sexualisation of children are often inappropriate - they should be directed at restricting offensive advertising. Beyond this promoting realistic sense of self-worth is a matter of education and developing sufficiently discriminatory tastes.


derrida derider said...

"many young women seem to me to lack a sense of autonomy"

My experience of my daughter and her friends are precisely the opposite - the young men of today are no match for them, poor things.

I must confess I've got little time for this latest moral panic. The bible has plenty of condemnation of adultery, but little of premarital sex. Why? simply because, just as in most other traditional societies, people married very early then. And the age of puberty is now much lower than it was then.

Unless you're advocating a return to arranged marriages at an early age, you have to find some way of coping with teenage sexual expression that prevents exploitation. Just confusing all such expression with exploitation doesn't help at all.

conrad said...

DD: I agree with you comment about young men today -- in fact, I think it highlights an important point in that people really need to start thinking about young boys and their problems as much as young girls -- the outcomes statistics in terms of things like education, alcohlism etc. are far worse for boys than girls. Of course there's also an interaction, so helping boys no doubt helps girls too.

One thing you are wrong about however is the age of puberty. The age of puberty has gone down in modern times (by a number of years), and not up, which makes the young marriages of those days even more dodgey.

derrida derider said...

Que Conrad? Perhaps my expresion was unclear - I simply meant that people reach puberty at an earlier choronological age now than they did in the past (better nutrition and all that). So marrying them off at 16 used to give no opportunity for premarital shenanigans (hence the lack of mention in the bible), whereas marrying them off at 16 these days would still leave some scope.

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