By David G. Anderson and Cindy Peak
Emblematic of America’s cultural demise is the Titanic; the sexualization of the most vulnerable aboard – young females – the iceberg.
If a violin was played as the unsinkable Titanic sank, what instrument will be heard when the unthinkable happens — the sinking of America’s ship-of-state?
All of them.
So casino-society-inebriated, so celluloid-sexually-intoxicated — values of decency and respect for humanity long since having been tossed overboard – chances are we won’t even notice the water pouring down the hatch as the band plays on.
As expressed by American singer Peggy Lee, “we’ll keep dancing, we’ll bring out the booze, and have a ball.”
Waving as it were the baton, one of many vying to be last to conduct the symphony, is Victoria’s Secret, orchestrating what many are calling the sexualization of some of our most vulnerable on board.
Victoria’s Secret is making no secret of marketing sexy lingerie — a line it calls PINK — to girls, “college-aged women” is the company’s official line, but a group called The Mommy Lobby believes otherwise and encouraged its 50,000 members to protest this past April 6 at Victoria’s Secret stores according to Leora Arnowitz of Fox News.
Marketing “‘bright young things” as read Victoria’s Secret ads, “which show younger girls in skimpy underwear” — scanty enough to barely contain their bold and suggestive slogans — Victoria’s Secret PINK line not only hardly hides what is barely covered but members of The Mommy Lobby believe Victoria’s Secret intent is not-so-hidden either.
“Our daughters are not sex objects,” said The Mommy Lobby’s CEO Cindy Chafin. “We really want them to be innocent and young as long as possible…and [Victoria’s Secret is] not helping that.”
How innocent and how young are the questions Chafin wants the company’s Chief Financial Officer Stuart Burgdoerfer to answer given he is reported by Arnowitz to have said, “When somebody’s 15 or 16-years-old, what do they want to be? They want to be older, and they want to be cool like the girl in college, and that’s part of the magic of what we do at PINK.”
“With young girls having $335 billion in spending power,” Karen Farris, in a March 9 blog entitled “Victoria’s Secret Exposed” by way of The Christian Post, decried the latest marketing junket of this largest American retailer of lingerie: predatory.
“Money. It’s all about who has the money. Victoria’s Secret spin-off store ‘Pink’ is aiming to get those dollars from younger and younger girls,” claims Farris.
Victoria’s Secret PINK line of lingerie is “hardly different,” complains Amy Graff in her blog “The Mommy Files” for the San Francisco Chronicle, than the “racy items you might find at a fetish store in a seedy part of a big city.”
Jill Weber wrote in USA Today, “Sexy teen lingerie sends all the wrong messages. The culture’s obsession with sexualizing girls is a juggernaut that can be overwhelming.”
“Sexualization is not the same as sexuality,” write Lois M. Collins and Sara Lenz in a two-part series that won the Council on Contemporary Families’ 2012 Award for Print Coverage of Family Issues. “Sexualization occurs when someone’s sense of their own value is based solely on sex appeal or that individual is held to narrow standards of attractiveness, says the American Psychological Association (APA) Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls, which issued reports in 2007 and 2010.”
Such emphasis upon sales not substance, cash not character, appearance not accomplishment in a media and marketing flood upon society — most particularly young females — can drown its clientele.
Especially when the clientele are pre-teens.
“The total effect, from the advertising to how women are portrayed,” observes Lexie Kite — doctoral candidate at the University of Utah who with her identical twin Lindsay has studied for years the sexualization and objectification of women and little girls — is both “extreme” and, unhappily, “normal.”
In fact what we’re seeing promoted, pushed and plied for great profit among pre-teens is what Lexie calls “normalized pornography,” according to the Collins and Lenz authored study in The Deseret News.
A 2007 report of the APA agrees, calling this “sexualization of girls” that which “gives rise to increases in sexual harassment and the demand for child pornography,” as Jay Evensen editorializes for The Deseret News where he is Associate Editor.
Speaking of revealing, the APA’s investigation was, as documented by the Parents Television Council.
Girls’ exposure to hyper-sexualized media content negatively impacts their cognitive and emotional development; was strongly associated with eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression; fewer girls pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics; and diminished sexual health. But it’s not just our daughters that are being affected by these images. Boys and adult men are also learning to value women only for their sex appeal, leading to increased incidents of sexual harassment, sexual violence, and increased demand for child pornography.
The consequences of adolescent sexual behavior can be severe. “Sexual risk behaviors place adolescents at risk for HIV infection, other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and unintended pregnancy. An estimated 8,300 young people aged 13–24 years in the 40 states reporting to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) had HIV infection in 2009.” Also according to the CDC, nearly half of the 19 million new STDs each year are among young people aged 15–24 years. And over 200,000 teens get an abortion every year.
You would think it would be a women-and-children-first protocol to abandon ship, especially as March was designated Women’s History Month, an annual declared month worldwide that highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. But in the State of Washington, planning an engaging and stimulating celebratory women’s cultural event means different things to different people.
Evidently the competition is fierce to be last seen flailing, literally, about on deck, or “On the Boards” where playwright Young Jean Lee’s “Untitled Feminist Show” was performed recently in Seattle. Ironically the question Lee asked herself in creating her all-nude play about feminism was “what’s the last play in the world I would want to make?” It’s doubtful she succeeded given Brangien Davis’ review for Seattle Magazine in which Davis called the performance “hilariously filthy.”
In the same state but a different venue, Washington’s First Lady Trudi Inslee also in March joined a panel of chocolate-tasting celebrities including, among others, burlesque performers to raise money forNARAL, National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws. Yet at the same time Inslee declares on her website her cause célèbre the support of those set adrift in a sea of sexual assault.
It should go without saying that sitting together on a sinking ship is to perish together on a sinking ship.
Even the so-called unsinkable was.