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Are many women too accepting of being sex objects?

PLANETEATER 2008/06/05 21:21:57
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Corporate drive for profits is damaging girls, women and eroding healthy relationships

FinalCall.com) - College-age women often come to Professor Gail Dines in tears after she lectures about how popular culture has become poisoned with a hyper sexuality that demands women offer themselves to any man who asks.




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‘Years ago there used to be separate worlds for children. Now they are exposed to the same things adults experience. Today we have very young parents and we aren’t protecting our children. Popular psychology said that this was OK.’
—Dr. Tarshia Stanley,
a Spelman College English professor
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The young women feel isolated and alone because they refuse to degrade themselves in exchange for male companionship, said the professor of sociology and women’s studies at Wheelock College in Boston and founder of the Stop Porn Culture movement. It’s time to end a corporate-driven effort to promote “slut culture” in the United States, Professor Dines said.

The oppression and misuse of women is not new to America, or American culture, but many see a crisis of misogynistic and racist elements that are damaging the soul of the nation and hurting children, women and men in the process.

Black women, in particular, have historically been portrayed as sexual objects to justify slavery, rape, sexual abuse and denial of respect and opportunity, advocates and scholars say. Negative messages solely concerned with “hotness” and sex appeal are also being pushed on adolescents and younger girls in a dangerous way, advocates warn.

Adolescence is the time when girls form an identity based on messages from society, said Professor Dines. If the messages focus on physical attributes and access to men, the young girls are not growing in a healthy way, she said. Professor Dines will be featured at “The Sexualization of Childhood” symposium, June 13-14, at Point Park University in Pittsburgh.

The American Psychological Association, in a study released last year, reported that girls and young women suffered intellectual, psychological and physical problems as a result of messages that push sexualization, which is defined as a “person’s value coming only from his or her sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics; a person is held to a standard that equates physical attractiveness (narrowly defined) with being sexy; a person is sexually objectified—that is, made into a thing for others’ sexual use, rather than seen as a person with the capacity for independent action and decision making, and/or; sexuality is inappropriately imposed upon a person.”

Researchers looked at a wide form of media—television, music videos, music lyrics, magazines, movies, video games and the internet as well as advertising campaigns and found messages in advertising, merchandising and products aimed at girls.

According to the research, the sexualization of girls and young women:

undermined feelings of confidence and comfort with their own bodies, leading to emotional and self-image problems, such as shame and anxiety;

was linked with three of the most common mental health problems diagnosed in girls and women—eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression or depressed mood;

had negative consequences on girls’ ability to develop a healthy sexual self-image.
Marketing sex to children

“A lot of very sexual products are being marketed to very young kids,” said University of Iowa journalism professor Gigi Durham. “I’m criticizing the unhealthy and damaging representations of girls’ sexuality, and how the media present girls’ sexuality in a way that’s tied to their profit motives.”

“The body ideals presented in the media are virtually impossible to attain, but girls don’t always realize that, and they’ll buy an awful lot of products to try to achieve those bodies. There’s endless consumerism built around that,” she said.

When a teen TV sensation was pictured nearly nude in a Vanity Fair magazine controversy erupted. “Although Disney’s ‘Hannah Montana’ franchise was reportedly one of the most prolific in the industry, following Miley Cyrus’ recent photo shoot with Annie Leibovitz in which she is pictured with her bare back, covered only by a piece of fabric, looking sensually at the camera, audiences for the latest episode of the show dropped 14% from the previous fresh episode, which aired just under two months earlier, New York Daily News reported,” according to writer Chris Georg of eFluxMedia.com. The piece was headlined “Miley Covers Up As ‘Hannah Montana’ Ratings Drop.”

“Compared to the first original show of the year, which aired in January, viewership for Sunday’s show was down 26%. An estimated 3.1 million viewers tuned in for ‘Hannah’s’ 7 p.m. Sunday edition, which aired out of the network’s usual pattern for fresh episodes,” wrote Mr. Georg.

Others appear less worried about public opinion and more obsessed with profits from pushing adult-style products on children. According to Ms. Durham, Abercrombie & Fitch sold little girls thong underwear tagged with the phrases “eye candy” and “wink wink.” Young readers of the magazine Seventeen were offered “405 ways to look hot” like Paris Hilton.

The sexualization of ‘tween girls, girls between the ages of 8 and 12, is a growing problem fueled by marketers’ efforts to create cradle-to-grave consumers, Ms. Durham explained.

“The consequences of the sexualization of girls in media today are very real and are likely to be a negative influence on girls’ healthy development,” said Eileen L. Zurbriggen, PhD, chair of the American Psychological Association Task Force and associate professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

“Years ago there used to be separate worlds for children. Now they are exposed to the same things adults experience. Today we have very young parents and we aren’t protecting our children. Popular psychology said that this was OK,” explained Dr. Tarshia Stanley, a Spelman College English professor.

“As a result, we have really high rates of teen pregnancy in the industrialized world, twice that of the U.K. and eight times that of Japan,” added Ms. Durham.

The increased sexualization of young girls coincides with the increase over time in teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and single parent households. According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, Black women have the highest teen pregnancy rate (134 per 1,000 women aged 15-19), followed by Hispanics (131 per 1,000) and non-Hispanic whites (48 per 1,000). Although the pregnancy rate among Black teens has decreased 40 percent between 1990 and 2000, more than the overall U.S. teen pregnancy rate declined during the same period, it still remains the highest in the country.

A March report by the Centers for Disease Control found Black teenage girls had the highest prevalence of sexually transmitted disease at 48 percent compared to 20 percent among both Whites and Mexican Americans. “Moreover, one in four girls in this country have had a sexually transmitted disease. We are not doing it right; we are not giving these girls what they need,” said Dr. Stanley.

Oppression, racism and Black females

La Vida Davis, of the Chicago-based Asha Group, sees the use of sexual and harmful images as part of the historical degradation of Black women and oppression. Her group co-sponsored a Mother’s Day campaign in Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles that gave radio stations an approved playlist of alternative songs to counter corporate driven and sexually-oriented songs. She also quickly points out that music is only one part of the problem.

Historically women across all races have been seen as property, but Black women have been especially debased, she observed. During slavery, the Black woman’s value was connected to how many children she could bear and servicing the sexual needs of slave owners, Ms. Davis said. The current situation is consistent with America’s sad history and a White patriarchal society, she said.

Another problem is Black internalization of oppression, which is borne out in the “pimp and hoe” culture and even support for singer R. Kelly, who is accused of sexual crimes against a child, she said.

Singer Beyonce is talented, but her clothing line, which doesn’t show skin still sells lip gloss and grown folks clothes to children, Ms. Davis said. It’s unsettling that clothes are sold to children that look like clothes made for adults, she said.

“It says you are valuable for how you look,” said the activist and community organizer. Little girls are taught to trade their bodies for benefits and acceptance, Ms. Davis said. Their only value is what they can be used for and for boys the question is how many “hoes” do I have, she added.

“Boys as well as girls are put in boxes to play out this foolishness,” she said.

Professor Dines, of Wheelock College, believes the aggressive sexual culture and negative images of Black men promoted by White corporate execs is undermining Black male and female relationships. The Black community is the most besieged community in America and if you break down and undermine the relationships, just like Whites did in slavery, it allows for control of Blacks, she said.

The hyper sexual image of the Black woman was used to justify raping Black women in slavery, Professor Dines said. The self image of Black girls that traditionally rose during their teen years is being chipped away and all girls are engaging in more indiscriminate sex, she said.

“They are capitulating because they don’t know any alternative,” Professor Dines said.

Overall relationships are suffering as men find it difficult to have healthy relationships with women because of exposure to pornography, she added. These men are often very upset because they are experiencing real problems, Professor Dines added.

“While people protest the images they see on channels like BET, people are rewarded for these images. Girls see that the ones who do this get money, glamour, fame and power. The anti-BET message is just one in a whirlwind of thousands of messages about sex that girls receive,” said Dr. Stanley of Spelman College.

“Music is now all about sex. In order to groove to a beat, the body is moving, but what you are doing is the sex act standing up,” said the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, in a lecture at Mosque Maryam, where he talked about the value of women.

‘Let girls be girls’
In Ms. Durham’s new book, “The Lolita Effect,” she identifies the myths of sexuality that are believed by many in society. Sexual representations of children are getting younger with images of girls as young as 11 or 12, Ms. Durham said.

Chris Richburg, writing on allhiphop.com took on Beyonce and ads for her new House of Dereon kids clothing line, Dereon Girls. “The ads apparently show seven-year-old girls wearing feather boas, leopard hats, full make-up and high heels as they pose in front of the camera. … I know you got to make that money, but having a bunch of mini-yous on display may not be the best way to go. Tone it down and let the girls be girls.”

Black men and women need healthier relationships that are not so focused on looks and appreciate individual gifts everyone has, said Ms. Davis.

Blacks must become conscious consumers and parents must communicate with children about messages in the media, music and society, she said. “We got talk about it, it’s not enough to say this bad and censor it,” she said.

Alternatives in music, books and movies and need to be supported, Ms. Davis continued. Teen actress Raven Symone, who also has a show on the Disney Channel, has had an amazing career, she said.

Issues like sexual assault and domestic violence must also be included into larger Black agendas and not seen as separate, Ms. Davis added. The subjugation of women and girls is connected to failing education, lack of jobs and other oppression, she said. “How sisters go goes the race,” Ms. Davis said.
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Top Opinion

  • Freeranger 2009/10/21 01:22:42
    Undecided
    Freeranger
    +6
    Everything starts at home. It's no secret that if you're involved in every aspect of your childs development, chances are that, that child will grow up to be a normal young adult with a healthy self image.
    It's been my experience that these failings are a direct result of a failure surrounding good parenting.
    This current age is not one of progression, for all it's new fangled gadgets, wealth, and self serving pleasure as much as it's an inditement.....a regression, and abject failure of people to take personal responsibility for their failures as parents------and isn't it always easier to blame it on someone, or something else?
    This bleeds parental failure, at least to me.

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  • Freeranger 2009/10/21 01:22:42
    Undecided
    Freeranger
    +6
    Everything starts at home. It's no secret that if you're involved in every aspect of your childs development, chances are that, that child will grow up to be a normal young adult with a healthy self image.
    It's been my experience that these failings are a direct result of a failure surrounding good parenting.
    This current age is not one of progression, for all it's new fangled gadgets, wealth, and self serving pleasure as much as it's an inditement.....a regression, and abject failure of people to take personal responsibility for their failures as parents------and isn't it always easier to blame it on someone, or something else?
    This bleeds parental failure, at least to me.
  • lunenburgchic 2009/08/29 17:13:15
    No
    lunenburgchic
    +3
    It no just a thing that we are becoming that way for society or even our guys, many are that way for themselves, always have and always will
  • Mimi Lucia 2009/08/01 02:04:52
    No
    Mimi Lucia
    Listen, we women are build the way we're built. Now we're too accepting of being sexual objects? Come on. We are who we are. There's nothing wrong with a woman enjoying the way she looks. If guys want to look at us sexual, which most do, then that's on them. But it's the laws of nature. Men are typically attracted to women. I'm Bi-sexual, even I'M attracted to women!!! LOL!!!! We're gorgeous! Firm breasts, tight buttocks, come on, how can you resist!!! ;-)
  • Mac 2009/04/21 02:52:50
    No
    Mac
    There's nothing unnatural about a woman being a "sexual turret" - they're all designed to be physically attractive in one way or another.
    The problem is the 'pay to play' philosophy that has stifled natural expressions of affection, turning womenfolk into numb and mindless Barbie Dolls that do any and everything under the sun for the advantage of gaining another dollar stuffed in their panties.
  • Will 2009/02/25 03:16:39
    Yes
    Will
    I do not think all women act this way. I do know that there are a lot of women who actually make it a point to make their sexual attributes stand out.
  • Forum Cruiser 2009/02/20 03:32:48
    Undecided
    Forum Cruiser
    +1
    To each his/her own...
  • realin 2009 2009/02/20 02:34:39
    Yes
    realin 2009
    +1
    its part of a cycle that has been going downhill since the feminist movement and the hippie days...everyone is taking sex lightly..and marriage,parenting,and basic moral principles...
  • Comrade Sean 2008/11/24 20:02:26 (edited)
    Yes
    Comrade Sean
    I think that is an area worthy of study. I'm a young guy, 29, and I have felt that there is certainly something very wrong going on in our consumer culture. I can do my part to be a good parent but we need to address the problems in our society as well. I find "sexy" clothing marketed to pre-teen girls to be revolting, but then they aren't the ones buying the clothes- it's parents.
  • brytt 2008/11/24 05:19:22
    Yes
    brytt
    +1
    just look at celebrities they make it seem ok to everyone so that is what everyone does
  • kawaii jo 2008/11/14 14:57:42
    Yes
    kawaii jo
    +1
    personally i do believe so because you always hear women talking about how they wish they had this persons body or that persons, and you hear them complain about being fat even if there isnt anything to them
  • Cloud Nine Fairy 2008/11/14 06:08:56
    Yes
    Cloud Nine Fairy
    If woman want to flaunt their body, Go right ahead! Some choose not to, Save it for their man or woman.
  • Bico 2008/11/13 17:07:44
    Yes
    Bico
    +2
    I do think commercialism is a bit too aggressive in sexualizing the younger generation. I'm a young adult male, but I get sick when I see things like Bratz dolls and these hot girls walking around that I would totally do, but then I find out they're thirteen and I throw up in my mouth a little. The so-called "black culture" (which is not the real culture of black people, but just what the mainstream says it is and has transformed it into for many young people) is pretty degrading to women, too. The mainstream idea is that, as the article says, guys should be pimps and all girls are nothing but bitches and hoes. That's degrading to both sexes. I think much of this can be solved with a little parental intervention and education. Kids should know that they don't have to look like supermodels to be liked and they should know the consequences of sex. On the other hand, I do think things like the aforementioned Bratz dolls and clothes with sexually explicit messages on them... those need to stop. That's a bit beyond "parents should pay attention to what they get for their kids" and goes into "you shouldn't be targeting kids specifically to become sex objects." I mean, that's just ridiculous.
  • twiggy 2008/11/11 20:26:11
    Yes
    twiggy
    +1
    I do think females are becoming more acceptant to being treated as sex objects but look around you thats all you see. On tv, radio, movies its done everyday and we support it buy watching, listening and buying the material. We seem to be drifting to more of an sex-driven society and nothing is being done to counter-act it.
  • Antonia 2008/11/10 20:26:38
    Yes
    Antonia
    +1
    But they want to. Women can make a very good living off of it and it is easy. Men would do the same if it was in more demand. Women rule the sex world because men love it.
  • dasi34 2008/11/02 18:17:15
    No
    dasi34
    no, not enough in this country are, that's why fear and paranoi run rampant in this hellish nightmare of a country
  • chiglet - Daedric Sigil Mag... 2008/10/28 23:39:12
    Undecided
    chiglet - Daedric Sigil Mage, Smirotiel
    My experience with this whole things has been rather 50/50. About 1/2 the females I know base their worth on how they look. How "sexy" they are. And some even almost unconsciously do things to bring notice to them, then act all embarrassed and "cutsey" afterwards. The other 1/2 of the women I know think and act like if you can't accept them as they are, in their baggy sweats and oversized T's, and in all their whatever-shape-they're-in glory. then to heck with you.
    The whole deal is a multi-edged sword. Many women are taught first by their parents, then by the corporations (Barbie is the worst) that they must dress in skimpy clothing and be super-skinny with large breasts to have any worth. On the other side of that are all the parents of the men who have taught them that a woman who isn't in skimpy clothing, have a wasp-waist, or doesn't have DD or larger breasts isn't worth pursueing. The sex-object image problem is not going to go away unless we go after it on all sides. Women's perception of themselves, and men's perception of women.
  • Catinthehat 2008/10/28 18:43:19
    Yes
    Catinthehat
    When 10 year old girls are wearing thongs.....we've got a problem!
  • PLANETE... Catinth... 2008/10/28 21:17:20
    PLANETEATER
    I've seen that unfortunately.
  • Blistful 2008/10/28 18:25:38
    Yes
    Blistful
    +1
    Yes. We are seen in Mens' eyes as a object. No a breathing thinking Human-being. Its like playing with a new Toy for a while, until you are tired of seeing it. I myself, is not a Toy!.. I am a Respectful Beautiful Woman! And I will not be made/told Differently!!.....
  • PLANETE... Blistful 2008/10/28 21:19:54
    PLANETEATER
    Yes that's good, but if you expose the meat, the dogs are gonna come runnin.
  • Blistful PLANETE... 2008/10/28 22:01:48
    Blistful
    +1
    I am not one too Expose my delicate Meat to anyone! It takes too long to marinate it to just throw it out to any ol Dog.....
  • PLANETE... Blistful 2008/10/28 22:56:43
    PLANETEATER
    LOL!! I feel you sweetie!
  • Blistful PLANETE... 2008/10/29 03:41:28
    Blistful
    That dog will have to be a special Breed created to Respect, Serve, and Obey me. If these things are done. Than he will get to eat my delicate meat at the Table.....
  • PLANETE... Blistful 2008/10/29 04:08:39
    PLANETEATER
    I agree except for the obey part. LOL!
  • Blistful PLANETE... 2008/10/29 04:21:04
    Blistful
    Why? Are you a free Spirit? Do you like to spread your royal Oats all over the place?...Lol-lol You are a barker. Not a good boy, huh?....lol-lol
  • PLANETE... Blistful 2008/10/29 04:49:07
    PLANETEATER
    I'm a good boy but I'll bark and a smack over my nose with a rolled up paper will not get me to roll over. :-)
  • Blistful PLANETE... 2008/10/29 05:51:47
    Blistful
    But I know for a Fact. That a good belly rub will...
  • PLANETE... Blistful 2008/10/29 05:59:42
    PLANETEATER
    Yesssirr! LOL!
  • Blistful PLANETE... 2008/10/29 06:05:38
    Blistful
    I have ways to get you to Obey. No-matter What...
  • ~ANNA BANANA~ 2008/10/27 20:30:13
    Undecided
    ~ANNA BANANA~
    yes i do think that alot of women are accepting of being sex objects but it is there fault they have a choice to be or not to be noone is forcing them!
  • nomorerepukes 2008/10/27 19:36:25
  • SparkleyPie 2008/10/27 17:38:47
    No
    SparkleyPie
    +1
    Sex sells. I don't really see it as a bad thing. It just is. Sexuality isn't dirty, bad, or wrong. Some women can capitalize on their sexuality. I say, "More power to 'em".

    As Missy Elliot said, and I agree: "Girls, girls, get that cash. If its 9-5 or shakin' your ass. Ain't no shame ladies, do your thing. Just make sure you ahead of the game."
  • PLANETE... Sparkle... 2008/10/27 18:05:08
    PLANETEATER
    +2
    What Missy Elliot was basically saying : "Hey devaluation of self to a piece of meat is okay as long as you make dat dough". Idol worship at it's best. That's what's wrong with the family structure in our communities now is that our women have no shame.
  • Sparkle... PLANETE... 2008/10/27 18:08:22
    SparkleyPie
    +2
    I really don't see it that way. Though, I can understand why you do.
  • PLANETE... Sparkle... 2008/10/27 18:12:42
    PLANETEATER
    +1
    That's the problem.
  • Sparkle... PLANETE... 2008/10/27 18:15:21
    SparkleyPie
    +1
    I think our disagreement boils down to theology.
  • PLANETE... Sparkle... 2008/10/27 19:39:40
    PLANETEATER
    No it doesn't. It boils down to reality.
  • ~ANNA B... Sparkle... 2008/10/27 20:31:27
    ~ANNA BANANA~
    +2
    i agree
  • Naive-No-More 2008/10/27 17:35:43 (edited)
    Yes
    Naive-No-More
    I fell into this trap as a teen, got pregnant. I didn't realize that I was perpetuating these same values right onto my daughters. The worst part of this that when you get older and your self worth is based on how "hot" you are, you don't feel worth very much as the aging process takes hold. With all the raving feminists in this country fighting for abortion rights, I guess they dont' have time to worry about the small things like every little girl being brainwashed into believing they are nothing more than ho's.
  • hcurrie7 2008/10/27 15:29:44
    Yes
    hcurrie7
    +1
    Too much emphasis is put on looks. It does not matter if you are smart or talented all people seem to be concerned with is how that person looks. I also get sick of seeing it in advertising. They can't sell anything without someone half naked mid orgasm. There is more to life than screwing.

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