Womens’ Image — Gone Too Far?

In the 1960’s the women’s right movement coincided with the sexual revolution, leaving my generation and the subsequent generations to enjoy more freedom to dress as we choose, dance with abandon, and in general no longer be held to constraints that we must be covered head to toe and speak only when spoken to.

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Pioneering women broke further taboos: Barbra Streisand wearing a see-through pantsuit to the Oscars, Madonna dancing on stage in a bra and garter belt, and play-boy bunnies becoming mainstream icons. Since then there has also been a steady loosening of what’s considered sexual vs. sensual and where the line is between being an empowered woman that chooses to be scantily clad (Cher, Madonna) and an unclassy tramp who shows off her body for National attention (Anna Nicole Smith, Kim Kardashian).

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That classy vs. slutty line is so blurred now, it’s hard to teach our girls the difference between being comfortable with their bodies and in their desire to be attractive, with knowing what is too much and what sends the wrong signal. My gym has several TV screens always mounted on the wall and yesterday I watched the current music videos channel as I was on a treadmill. I saw back-to-back videos (at yeast 5) where the singer was a young women (in both pop and country music genres) who paraded around in lingerie, employing stripper moves as they danced and writhed around in very sexually suggestive positions, all the while singing about love and/or betrayal.

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As these are all current and popular performers, I realized these videos are telling young girls that is what is sexy, this is what boys want. Of course, ask any real man (even a high school boy if his head’s on straight) and they’ll say that type of girl is not at all who they want as a girlfriend, but they sure do like lusting over them just them same. So sadly, mixed signals abound, and what we’re left with is a large populous of girls and women displaying their bodies as nothing but devices for sex, not even realizing that many of our pop-culture icons have a brain in their head and are using their musical talents to build business empires (Rhianna, Beyonce, and even Miley Cirus).

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If you feel my blog today is a bit “soap-boxy” well I’m preparing my daughter to enter sixth grade. I’ve heard my share of horror stories about girls being coerced to perform oral sex on boys as early as 5th grade, and my stomach spins, and even the age-old spin the bottle has evolved to be heading into a dark closet for an imposed 5 minutes of making-out. I feel it is imperative that I prepare her to understand the confusing hormonal impulses that are going to rear their ugly head for the next several years of her schooling, and paramount to that preparation is that I help her to understand the deference between been attractive vs. sexual. That’s very difficult with all the images around her saying this is what is normal and right.

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Essentially today’s post is food for thought for all of you and hopefully we can open a mass dialogue as to how to not go backwards in women’s rights and sexual liberation, but not to keep going so far that we can have a president who says it’s okay to “grab women by the pussy.” Oops, guess we’re already that far gone!

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4 comments

  1. CC

    Thank you for caring about women rights. This is a very important topic.

    I need to react when you write lines like “(girls) being comfortable with their bodies and in their desire to be attractive, with knowing what is too much and what sends the wrong signal.” And “that I prepare HER to understand the confusing hormonals, that are going to rear their ugly head for the next several years” …

    Girls and women cannot send any wrong signals, they have their rights to wear whatever they want. There is no exception.

    Boys and men, that cannot control their hormones, must deal with THEIR OWN issue.

    IF girls and women are supposed to be, and feel, truly comfortable with their bodies, there should not be such conversations wether they are sending signals or not.

    I do not agree, that popstars invites girls to crawl around like kittens. Madonna did that as well, when singing >>like a virgin<<. I was a teenager back then, and I cannot recall any of my friends crawling around at the dance floor. It might as well be a provokation. Popstars (in all categories), are making a stage show. I believe girls's can diffentiate that from their own behaviour. It can in no way be accapted that "playing the bottle, is aughted as a position for anything". Feeling good about your body, is also about being proud of it, and not letting anybody tell you "what´s appropiate". That appropiateness has to come from within yourself: "how do you like to look like"?

    So what to do? Keep wearing the dress you like. Dress in a way, that makes you feel proud of yourself and your body, to keep your selfesteem healthy. Find the things that you like about your body, and make them shine through. You have the right to be, and feel female, or to do the oposite, if you prefer to be casual. Fight back, know your rights. Wote for the people whom figths for these rights every day. Keep the president responsible for his lack of moral and understanding for women rights. Don´t let go.

    The decline can be very fast and dangerous. As an example, I´d like to share a picture of three women in the 1970´s in Afghanistan (warning: it might blow your mind!).

    https://www.google.dk/search?q=amnesty+internation,+afghanistan+women+1970&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=da-dk&client=safari#imgrc=rboal9HH1IKzaM:

    • lifefitnessbydane

      I appreciate your comments, but I do disagree with some of your perspective. You are correct that WOMEN should be able to dress as they choose and have no fear of repercussions. However, GIRLS do not always understand how one can be judged by their exteriors, and signals are a fact — wearing lingerie in public is a statement that suggests sexuality. Again, it’s not an invitation, but young girls cannot differentiate that. As for women in the 1970’s in Afghanistan being allowed to dress like the western world was has NO impact in my current argument. I lived in Tehran in 1970 and was able to dress like I had back home in California. I could not dress that way now. That has to do with the archaic backwards mentality of the Muslim clerics who are now in charge of Iran.

      • CC

        ” GIRLS do not always understand how one can be judged by their exteriors, and signals are a fact — wearing lingerie in public is a statement that suggests sexuality”

        In my opinion girls are not – and should jot be taken for – sexual objects. Though, there can be no signals to misunderstand.

        Thanks.
        Off cause there are dresscodes about wearing lingerie in public. Then again, there is a huge differentiation in stage performance and offstage situations.

        In fact, accordingly to Mulwas “Male gaze theory (1973)” we´re manipulated to see the woman throgh a mans eye, due to screen performances and appearences through the movie industry. I believe that this construction is more harmful for girls, than popstars performing in public in lingerie.

  2. Jill

    Words cant even describe how I feel about the “image” that these young beautiful girls are portraying. It truly is not who they are, but a cry for major attention, which in itself is very sad. Yes it is our job as parents to instill positive reinforcements to our children about being a good person, liking themselves inside and out and not judge. Thank you for your amazing blog!!!!

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