Friday, September 18, 2009

Youth: a fountain of stress, wrinkly creams, and hyper sexuality.

I’m a really bad procrastinator and I tend to put my homework off till the last moment. Because of that, I haven’t been able to get much reading or blogging done. My general dislike for Fridays is starting to mature into love since I get to spend the day catching up on all the shit I’ve put off all week.

The fact catching up on news is like a mini-Christmas says something about my personality I’m sure.

Anyways, I’m going to do a round up again this Sunday as a way of clearing out my cache. It seems there is plenty going on, but nothing rant worthy. Posting them all together is just the sensible way of doing it.

Sensible? This must be what growing up feels like.

I find myself wanting to share another Jezebel post, but I don’t like how this is starting to become a regular thing. Maybe after this one I’ll just have to take a break.

Some of you may be able to guess that I’m talking about the awesomeness that is today’s post “Why Sexualizing Little Girls Sucks For Grown-Ass Women.”

photo by hulk4598


The post looks into how the sexualization of young girls and teens hurts all women since it pits them against one another (it also continues to reinforce the idea of women being nothing more but sexual objects for the male gaze).

Here’s a part of it:
Those who protest against sexy images of girls sometimes argue that people under 18 are innocent and asexual, but as Durham points out, this isn't always the case. Sexuality exists in (some) kids and teens — but that shouldn't make them objects of titillation for adults.

Nor should it make them sex symbols. Durham quotes sociologist Wendy Chapkis, writing, "the western ideal of female beauty [...] is defined by "eternal youth."" This is bad for girls, who have better things to do with their youth than embody an ideal of beauty. But it's also bad for adult women, who may no longer have the "naturally small, supple and nothing if not youthful" bodies that Chapkis describes as the ideal.

I'm far from the first to complain that the sexualization of very young girls devalues the women they will grow up to be. Durham hints at this with her complaint about the the "multibillion-dollar sales of anti-aging cosmetics, creams and plastic surgery," and she may explore it further in her book The Lolita Effect, of which the Guardian piece is an excerpt. But the problem deserves continued attention not just because it harms older women, but because it pits older and younger women against each other....

Plenty of girls and women admirably transcend these messages — seeking out older allies, advocating against ageism, and proclaiming both their sexuality and their worth outside sexuality throughout their lives. But they have to leap over multiple boundaries in order to do so. One way to remove some of these boundaries would be to let children be children — sexual, perhaps, but not objects of adult sexual desire. And not commodities in a value system they're not yet equipped to understand.

I really agree with the author that such an obsession on youth can do nothing but devalue women who are no longer so “youthful.” In a similar vein, we were talking about how the idea of masculinity perpetuates homophobia and sexism because it forces men, who want to be seen as "manly" by other men, to reject the qualities found among these two groups (nurturing, emotional, etc.) in my psychology class. When you learn to devalue certain qualities it only makes sense you would start to devalue the people who embody those qualities.

I think that point stands true here as well (and in most situations actually).

When we express, as a society, that youth is the most beautiful and wonderful quality a person can have, then were also saying the opposite. That not being youthful is less than beautiful or wonderful. (This is evident in the way we say, “You’re so gorgeous for your age…”) Those who are youthful would then feel privilege, while those who don’t would feel disdain towards those who do; hence, the hierarchy the author mentions.

The idea that we simultaneously sexualize young girls and fetishize the idea of their innocence or “purity” is crazy to me. (Some of you may remember I talked about this a little while back with the ATM photo shoot where the models dressed as young girls.)

One of the reasons I find this so interesting is because I lost my virginity at such a young age. Though I did have a “mature” body at thirteen (in the sense I no longer looked like a child and was already a 36C), I can’t possible imagine how older men could find me sexual. Don’t get me wrong, I dressed kind of trampy. But it was still painfully obvious that I was not a sexual being or had any sort of sexual prowess. I can only imagine that it stemmed from, as some of the commentators suggest, my lack of agency (how threatened some men must feel by women for that to be a turn on is astounding though).

I don’t know. Maybe I’m reading too much into my own experiences, but I think the post is definitely worth a read.

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