‘Surrounded by a culture in which girls are all body and only body’
Glee star Lea Michele features on the March cover of Cosmopolitan. We’re seeing more of this sexification of popular schoolgirl characters. Of course it’s not just sexing up female actresses from the high school TV show genre – this is just another example of the sexual scripts young women celebrities are expected to follow. You’re famous? Show us your flesh.
I’ve written before about the creepy photo shoot by Terry Richardson for November’s GQ, featuring Glee’s lead characters in poses suggesting schoolgirls are seductive temptresses and promoting the schoolgirl porn fantasy/barely-legal genre.
The objectification of women confronts us everywhere. It’s not about being personally ‘offended’ at seeing Lea Michele pulling back her clothing to reveal a significant amount of breast. It’s not that this cover is worse than others. It’s the cumulative impact of so many like it. It’s what it says and represents and the message it sends about women’s worth and value – on the front of a magazine read by thousands of young women. This is where your power lies: in your ability to attract sexual attention. Natasha Walter in Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism, expresses it well:
Through the glamour-modelling culture, through the mainstreaming of pornography and the new acceptability of the sex industry, through the modishness of lap and pole-dancing, through the sexualisation of young girls, many young women are being surrounded by a culture in which they are all body and only body. In the hypersexual culture the woman who has won is the woman who foregrounds her physical perfection and silences any discomfort she may feel.
MTR on The Morning Show: why is it all up to parents?
I commented on the Cosmo cover and broader implications for women and girls on Channel 7’s Morning Show today with parenting expert Yvette Vignando who has also written on the issue here.
Here’s an email I received after the show. It takes up a point I got a bit passionate about as Kylie and David were trying to wrap up the show – why is it parents who are expected to clean up the mess created by a pornified culture? The onus is always on parents, rather than cultural change.
Thank you once again Melinda for speaking on The Morning Show (unfortunately for us all, you seem to be invited to that programme along with Dr Carr-Gregg time and time again yet nothing seems to change). I agree with everything you speak about in regards to the skank culture that my generation are forced to raise our children in…I can safely say that on many an occasion I feel so frustrated and angry that I have been known to say…‘Oh I give up… why don’t you marketers and money makers just take my kids from me and raise them yourself!’ As you said today, it’s ludicrous to expect parents to fight the over sexualized society we live in, at every turn, get blamed for the damaged children produced from it and witness NO ACCOUNTABILITY from the media and culture perpetuating the damage. I have three daughters of teenage years and very often I wish I didn’t…I fear for them and the damaged boys/men they may well encounter in the near future…Maybe the tides will turn and my future grandchildren will have a better start in their cultural life than this current young generation have been forced to endure.
The Morning Show had another show earlier in the week about growing parental concern about sexualisation of children. Yes, I know, I’ve said the same things many times. Until things change, expect me to keep going on about it.
See also: ‘Equality hampered by sexualisation of young girls’, originally posted at The Vibe. Marcus Cleaver argues: “Despite legislation and the feminist movements of the 1960s and 70s, we still live in a society where girls are conditioned from a young age to see themselves as sexualised objects”. It’s worth reading the full article.