This is an old argument – the sexualization of little girls. Where does it come from? Why is it encouraged? How can we stop it?
A quiz on PBS (“Is Love in Our DNA?”) referencing another article (named below), makes a good point:
Beautiful young women are sexually attractive to men because beauty and youth are closely linked with fertility and reproductive value. In evolutionary history, males who were able to identify and mate with fertile females had the greatest reproductive success … A 14-year-old woman has a higher reproductive value than a 24-year-old woman, because her future contribution to the gene pool is higher on average.
–David Buss, “The Strategies of Human Mating,” American Scientist, 1994
It’s not a pleasant thought, but if you think about it scientifically, it makes sense. A 14 year old girl is (typically) sexually mature… in nature, that’s usually good enough. So, if you look at it that way, it’s pretty much going against nature to say being attracted to young girls is wrong.
Does this mean we need to encourage it? Of course, not. It’s an evolutionary thing that has, like pinky toes and the appendix, become obsolete in the human race. Why? It’s not like we’re hurting for people, here – there is no immediate, urgent need to perpetuate the species. So, while there are reasons why men are attracted to younger females, there aren’t really any good reasons to act on it.
So, then, we tend to view men with this attraction as evil predators. While I agree that men who actively pursue underage girls against their will are wrong, I do have issues with this. It’s perfectly natural for men to be attracted to young girls. It’s how they act (or don’t act) on that attraction that makes the difference.
Dressing little girls up in “sexy” clothes and putting all the responsibility on men is a problem. Again, there are some men that actively pursue young girls… but the girls aren’t always innocent in the matter. Today, I heard a story about a group of fifth grade girls who saw their teacher’s IM window, in which she had been talking to her boyfriend during downtime. A few days later, said teacher gets a call from her boyfriend, asking her who all these girls are who are IMing him. Apparently, they were having a sleepover, and one of them remembered his name, so they IMed him pretending to be adult women and hit on him. He was smart enough to know that something wasn’t right, but I’m sure that this isn’t the only time that men have been pursued by underage women. Just because these girls wouldn’t have known what to do in the event this man really did show up at their house ready to have sex, doesn’t take the blame off of them completely.
So, who is to blame? Mothers? Fathers? Advertising? All of the above?
Parents need to pay attention to their kids. Easier said than done, but still true. They need to say no, and enforce it, when girls want to do/wear/watch things that aren’t appropriate. They need to be honest and open with their kids about sex (boys and girls), so that they learn more from their parents than from a porn site. And, they need to stop letting their little girls wear things like this:
(Yeah, that says “wink, wink” and “eye candy” – and they’re sized for girls ages 10-16)
It’s not “cute”.
There are others, but I (obviously) can’t find pictures on the ‘net without going through some rather unsavory channels. And, quite frankly, I don’t want to see little girls who could be my students wearing skin tight ass pants, shirts with phrases like “little hottie” and “sexy princess”, and padded bras for six year olds.
Alright, so what does this have to do with education? All this came from an experience I had with my fourth graders. They are all learning how to write letters for a purpose – they’re writing to somebody to ask for something. One girl is writing the president to ask for peace, a boy is writing his apartment manager to ask them to clean up the apartment complex he lives in, and several are writing celebrities to ask for autographs.
A rather large group of girls has decided to write Hannah Montana (warning: link goes to a Disney.com site) (or, more correctly, they’re writing to Miley Cyrus, the actress that plays her). I had no idea who she was (I really should brush up on my pop culture to keep up with the kids), but I learned very quickly that finding her address was hard.
Actually, it was impossible.
The Disney website says on its FAQs page that they can’t “…provide contact information, forward e-mail, or grant meetings or interviews on their behalf…” because “the performers you are referring to are not permanent employees of The Walt Disney Company…” and, instead, they recommend you “start your search [with the] Internet Movie Database.” So, knowing the joy of imdb, I decided to go there. I had to click on the link to her official site pretty quickly, though, because at the bottom of the page, where the discussion forums are, there happened to be a topic titled “She’s Got a Really Great Ass!!!” This girl is 15.
But, when you dress her up like she’s 18+:
I can see how people might be confused.
So, yeah, I finally got so frustrated with having to tell the girls, repeatedly, “no, that’s not really her address” and “that’s not really her website… you really shouldn’t send your letter there” that I gave up.
I’m not really surprised that Disney is using sex to sell its kids’ shows… I mean, look at The Cheetah Girls:
So, yeah… anyway. This post has been entirely too long, already… mostly, I’m angry because (1) the girls in my class deserve better female role models than that (2) Disney should take some responsibility and at least give an address to send mail to the studio – I wonder how many little girls have written letters to creepy pedophiles trying to get to “Hannah Montana” (3) viewing women as sex objects is already a problem – do we really need to shift this pressure to 10 year olds?
I do hate to sound prudish, but seriously, this is a problem. My 10 year old girls are wearing ass-pants and writing letters to girls who look like they should be starring in porn. What ever happened to characters like Clarissa?