On Vogue & Slut Walks

I wrote the following as a comment on Racheal McCaig’s  Cocktails & Curtain Calls blog (great discussion there) in response to this, roughly-paraphrased, question:  Can we, on the one hand, be outraged by pictures of a 10-year-old girl being sexualized in Vogue Magazine and, on the other hand, not be upset when 16-year-old girls participate in a “Slut Walk?”

Part of parenting is teaching ‘children’ what is, and what is not, appropriate behaviour at different stages of development.

The advertiser/magazine in question is using the allure and promise of sex with a child to sell a product.

That child did not get out of her clothes and onto the pages of a magazine without her parents’ consent and help. I would be surprised if she hadn’t been encouraged by her parents. This is much like the toddlers and tiaras nonsense–dangerous because it tells girls that their self-worth is rightly measured in the way they present their bodies, how much they primp in front of a mirror, what clothes they wear…

Being ‘marketed’ by their parents, whether as pre-pubescent ‘cuties’ or as nascent ‘Lolitas,’ undermines girls’ abilities to establish an autonomous and grounded sense of their worth–and their own values–as persons, as females, and as sexual beings.

So long as we continue to condone the commoditization of children, we will continue to condemn them to self-blame when they are, finally, ‘sexually’ assaulted, and to ease them into the lie that sexual assault is about sex–that men cannot control their sexual urges and that women exist to ‘service’ them–willingly or no.

Sexual assault is about establishing power over, and victimizing, another human being in a manner that entirely strips the one attacked of dignity and, for an interminably long time, of a sense of security of person.

The sad fact is that a certain percentage of our daughters will become prey.

Although females are subject to attack at any age, from infancy to seniority, there is a world of difference between the child of 10 and the adolescent of 16.  A difference in what they can understand, a difference in our ability to control their choices.

As a society and as parents, we need to stop selling our girls to the highest bidder–whether the recompense is dollars in our pockets or simply the ego boost of ‘owning’ the prettiest one.

We need to stop selling our girls’ lives short by clothing them in dangerously antiquated mores.

And we need to broaden our conception of appropriate adolescent behaviour.

Allow a 16-year-old to participate in the slut walk? I say, encourage her to walk! And walk with her.

Personal power, female power, sexual power– these are all political.

The sooner we help our girls empower themselves–in the incarnations they choose–the sooner will a generation of girls grow into women who know who they are and to whom they owe service: themselves.

~Lady Di

Published in: on August 9, 2011 at 9:57 pm  Comments (4)  
Tags: , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: