Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Two Sides of the Same Coin

I can tell you that because I have seen these images, I see plenty of evidence that our society and the media normalizes child sexuality and pornography every day. Go to your run of the mill child dance recital and you see over-sexualized children doing a bump and grind, all to the applause of LDS parents who think they are cute. That is exactly what is being done here - the normalizing of child sexuality. It is appalling.
Michelle, in a post on fMh about Miley Cyrus disrobing for Annie Leibowitz (#38).

Throughout the world and over time and cultures, girls who begin menarche are considered women. They begin to marry and bear children. It has been in the past 100 years only that we have decided that young girls should have more choice and should put off childbearing until later. As a feminist, I believe this is a good thing. But who is to say that it is the only true and proper choice? Some studies have shown that childbearing at younger ages is healthier and more optimal for infant and mother. I believe in the right of this group to choose their family patterns and customs. Teaching their children to submit is not abuse, it is a different lifestyle choice. There are many tenets of this faith which are clearly healthier and more moral than mainstream teachings.
BiV in a post about the alleged FLDS teenage pregnancies.

Now, my question to my readers is, how are these two things really that different? In both cases, we are having young, under-aged girls reduced solely to their sexual power. Indeed, groomed for it. One could argue that Miley has simply been introduced to a different lifestyle choice than that of these young FLDS women (that hers is mainstream isn't really an issue for me right now). Either way we are telling young women that their only power is in their bodies. I am aware that the implications of these two lifestyles are different--in the FLDS homes, these young women will go on to nurture kind, polite, loving children. In the mainstream world, we really have no way of knowing where Miley will end up literally, but we do know that it will be determined by her continued willingness to be a sex object. But will either way yield strong, public role models for other young women to watch? Will either way show young women that they have options, that they can be whoever they want to be, achieve whatever they set out to achieve? I don't think so. Neither of these extremes shows young women what feminism has been reaching for for years--that they are capable (alongside their motherhood/sexuality if they so choose) of being not only singers/actresses, but also lawyers, doctors, school teachers, social workers, engineers, IT experts, scientists, political leaders, or Nobel winners (in any field). When are we going to escape these two extreme portrayals of what women can be (even though they're based off the same biological power) and show young women all the variations in between?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


So this probably won't be very long, but it's been on my mind a lot lately. Several posts (xJane's comment #8 over at Mind on Fire, G's post at Figuring It Out, and Chanson's mention of a Carnival of Sexual Freedom) have had me thinking about women's bodies and sexuality. I figure that which ever way we look at it, we're pretty much doomed to be making a choice that someone else will see as blatant submission to the patriarchy. For example (and shukr, I hope I don't say anything that will offend you) we sometimes criticize Muslim women for wearing a hijab, or a head scarf (and I'm making an assumption here that they are two different things--I'll edit me if I find out later that I'm wrong). We accuse them of being an accessory to men's ideas about not being able to control themselves at the sight of an attractive woman. However, we also criticize women who wear revealing clothing. We accuse them of objectifying themselves and giving men an excuse to not control themselves at the sight of an attractive woman. Either way, it's all too easy to hurl accusations of submission to the patriarchy. Either way women come out reduced to objects of sexual desire. Supposing I dress "modestly" one day and "immodestly" the next, different people are going to respect or despise my decisions depending on how they look at the issue. I just wanted to put that out there. Because really, I don't believe that the way we dress ultimately matters one way or another. Maybe I'd even go so far as to say, "when in Rome, do as the Romans do." Then, where ever I am, I'll fit in. I'm beginning to think that fashion shouldn't have to be a moral decision (even though I've been making it one for myself lately). Indeed, I'll go ahead and say it and then stop torturing myself and others about it. Fashion shouldn't be a moral decision. You know you. Dress in the way that makes you like you. To hell with everyone else (can an agnostic say that?:).