European Parliament looking at sexualization of girls

From European Women’s Lobby:

The EWL is deeply concerned with the increasing sexualisation of young girls in media today. The problem of sexualisation refers to the imposing of adult sexuality on children, especially girls, at an age when they are mentally, physically and emotionally not ready. Further, it gives young girls the belief that they are valued on their physical attractiveness leading to an objectification of women. The issue of sexualisation can be seen everywhere today, in advertisement, computer games, movies, magazines, music, fashion, cell phones…

The problem has been acknowledged by the European Parliament. For this reason, a meeting was held regarding the sexualisation of young girls on 06 June 2012 in the Parliament aiming to raise awareness of the issue among public authorities and develop concrete strategies to combat it. This meeting was organised by MEP Joanna Skrzydlewska, author of the upcoming report, as well as the the EPP Group of which she is a member. Experts from all over Europe were invited to share their observations and experiences regarding the sexualisation of girls.

Sexualisation has become like a wall paper, all the time constantly in the background, to the extent that we do not even see it anymore as Dr. Linda Papadopoulos described it. Dr. Papadopoulos is a psychologist and an expert on the subject of the effects of sexualisation on young people. She presents statistics concerning the issue as well as concrete examples:

  • When asked about future profession, 62 % of young girls wanted to be a glamour models and 25 % want to be a lap dancers.
  • The playboy bunny is a logo on writing pads for young girls today.
  • There is a computer game where you score points for beating up a prostitute. This game was given 10 out of 10 in several reviews and the NY-times said it gave “a new level of depth for an interactive entertainment experience.”
  • Violence has been made into something sexy in media.
  • 1 out of 3 teenagers have experienced sexual violence from their boyfriends.
  • 11 years old is the average age of being exposed to porn.
  • 10 year olds are being sexually harassed in school.

Is gender equality bad for your sex life?

I don’t think so. I think scientists just continue to validate men’s bad behavior – like the reason they seek younger women, put a high value on looks, seek many women to sleep with, etc. (Of course, if they were meant to be with many women, wouldn’t there be a genetic preference for females? It just seems like a lot of subjective “analysis” for nothing more than the boys-will-be-boys credo)

Why feminism is the anti-Viagra – in a Psychology Today blog post 

After explaining how women have trouble getting turned on, have submission fantasies, seek dominant men, and read romance novels with alpha males, he/she (not sure) says this:

On the other hand, most men are aroused by being dominant, as evidenced by the massive cross-cultural popularity of dominance-themed adult Web sites for men. These include some of the most inventive and varied genres of male erotica, such as hypnotism porn (where Svengalis hypnotize woman into having sex), drunk porn (where men trick inebriated women into having sex), sleep porn (where men take advantage of sleeping women), and a wide diversity of exploitation porn (where women exchange sexual favors for school books, a ride, or a rent-free apartment).

Our mammalian brains come wired with very ancient sexual preferences, quite prominent in the most popular forms of male and female erotica preferred by Homo sapiens. Men are aroused by being dominant and by submissive women, women are aroused by being submissive and by dominant men. In the bedroom, inequality beats equality.

So, what I get out of this is: Women – bad. How can you not get turned on by us? Why do you seek out the bad boy? (all my friends date or marry nice guys, so I never did get this). And, men – good. How inventive of you to make porn with drunk girls or rape a sleeping woman.

Umm, “inventive” is not a word I’d use to describe these porn scenarios.

And he says:

If you suspect this is some kind of stealth agenda for justifying belligerent or misogynistic male behavior, read on…

In my opinion, anytime a guy says “I’m not misogynist”, it’s usually followed by… misogyny.

Bad rap

Rapper Eminem made a music video that debuted last Tuesday. It includes lyrics about Sarah Palin – something about taking her out to dinner and then “nailing” her.

Most of us know that a lot of rap music, not unlike many rock songs, are misogynist in nature. I have nothing to say about misogynist rap songs and the defense of “freedom of speech” or “artistic liberty” as excuses that serve to perpetuate misogyny. Feminism is often high-jacked (calling guns the “great equalizer”) and apparently nowadays we highjack human rights to perpetuate misogyny and violence towards women. No surprise there. We’ll always find excuses until we decide to rip out the roots themselves. But that would be like pulling the carpet from out beneath those that “benefit” from it and considering all the resistance we encounter in society that won’t be happening anytime soon. So it’ll be a slow process, for sure, but one that is worthy of our patience and determination.

What I would like to do, though, is share some excerpts from bell hooks that provides an incredibly insightful look into rap music and the larger dominant culture that permits it, even rewards it.  I’ve highlighted some of the sentences that, to me, are the most powerful.

Here’s the full text.

Excerpts:

When I counter this demonization of black males by insisting that gangsta rap does not appear in a cultural vacuum, but, rather, is expressive of the cultural crossing, mixings, and engagement of black youth culture with the values, attitudes, and concerns of the white majority, some folks stop listening.

We’re listening, bell. Go on:

It is useful to think of misogyny as a field that must be labored in and maintained both to sustain patriarchy but also to serve as an ideological anti-feminist backlash. And what better group to labor on this “plantation” than young black men.

Indeed, it feels like a field that keeps bearing fruit, year after year. Every other year, the crop may change, but it still yields the same fruit. This field is well-maintained and you wonder, why are we nurturing this? The fruit it bears is rotten to the core.

Without a doubt black males, young and old, must be held politically accountable for their sexism. Yet this critique must always be contextualized or we risk making it appear that the behaviors this thinking supports and condones,–rape, male violence against women, etc.– is a black male thing. And this is what is happening. Young black males are forced to take the “heat” for encouraging, via their music, the hatred of and violence against women that is a central core of patriarchy.

Rap music is bad, but it is but one ‘crop’ in the industry of misogyny. We also have the likes of Jerry Springer, Howard Stern, rock music, porn that involves degradation, violence and drug use (not to mention “facial abuse”), sexual harassments and assaults, etc. – the industry is huge and indeed profitable.

One cannot answer them honestly without placing accountability on larger structures of domination and the individuals (often white, usually male but not always) who are hierarchically placed to maintain and perpetuate the values that uphold these exploitative and oppressive systems. That means taking a critical looking at the politics of hedonistic consumerism, the values of the men and women who produce gangsta rap. It would mean considering the seduction of young black males who find that they can make more money producing lyrics that promote violence, sexism, and misogyny than with any other content. How many disenfranchised black males would not surrender to expressing virulent forms of sexism, if they knew the rewards would be unprecedented material power and fame?

How many males (and females) would not surrender to expressing sexism if they knew the rewards would be material wealth, power, fame…? It shouldn’t even have to be rewarded, but if we up against the money & power sexism earns, how can we make equality and respect attractive and rewarding? It seems so boring in comparison to the bountiful fruits of sexism – nudity, exploitation, domination…

Gangsta rap is part of the anti-feminist backlash that is the rage right now. When young black males labor in the plantations of misogyny and sexism to produce gangsta rap, their right to speak this violence and be materially rewarded is extended to them by white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. Far from being an expression of their “manhood,” it is an expression of their own subjugation and humiliation by more powerful, less visible forces of patriarchal gangsterism. They give voice to the brutal raw anger and rage against women that it is taboo for “civilized” adult men to speak. No wonder then that they have the task of tutoring the young, teaching them to eroticize and enjoy the brutal expressions of that rage (teaching them language and acts) before they learn to cloak it in middle-class decorum or Robert Bly style reclaimings of lost manhood. The tragedy for young black males is that they are so easily dunned by a vision of manhood that can only lead to their destruction.  

And, finally:

Yet, our feminist critiques of black male sexism fail as meaningful political intervention if they seek to demonize black males, and do not recognize that our revolutionary work is to transform white supremacist capitalist patriarchy in the multiple areas of our lives where it is made manifest, whether in gangsta rap, the black church, or the Clinton administration.

While this was published in 1994, it still holds true today. If we demonize Black men or rap music, we only look at one part of the problem. bell is right – misogyny is larger than that. Ridding the world of misogynist rap music is a step in the right direction, but it is one step of many…