April 16, 2009
In a new poll by teen expert Jennifer “Dr. Jenn” Austin Leigh, PsyD., 98% of teen boys said they’d rather be in a relationship with “a girl who is a great listener than [with] a ‘hottie’.”
Okay, we’re listening. “If boys want more love and less sex for sport, this is really good news because teen pregnancy is up, teen girl-on-girl violence is going up [reports thereof are going up — Ed.], emotional abuse in teen relationships is rampant…any trend towards more civility is welcome at this point,” Dr. Jenn said in a press release that just hit BG’s inbox. “Kids want something more substantial in their lives…to be loved, respected, seen and heard deeply.”
Still listening. “We do our boys a huge disservice by not talking about male virginity or their romantic, tender emotions about sex.” says Dr. Jenn. “Our boys are more than just their plumbing. Parents need to address their boys’ hearts and souls when they discuss sex with them.”
And! “The wonderful possibilities of where we go as human beings and the future of our planet depends on whether or not we learn to honor our girls. It’s that simple.” (Just ask The World Bank.)
But. BG has to wonder: how much honor is there in being called a “hyena”? Mmm, a hyena. Kind of like a lil’ cougar. Indeed, according to her website, “Dr. Jenn” has “coined the term ‘hyenas’ to describe the new phenomenon of sexually aggressive girls, taking as her model the female spotted hyena, which is far more aggressive than its male counterpart, right down to sexually explicit taunting. It is now not uncommon for girls to strong-arm boys for sex, and that includes oral sex. Some teenage girls even collect ‘V cards’ (virginity cards) to keep score of the number of boys they’ve deflowered. It’s a growing trend. Girls like the power and thrill of being a guy’s first, even if they don’t have any feelings for him.”
Okay, now we’re not laughing. Surely there’s more than enough aggression to go around, and more than enough reasons why, in today’s porn-tastic culture, that aggression becomes sexualized, even by girls. But, you know, this aggro-girls “trend” story comes and goes like the locust. Several years ago, it was girls as perpetrators of violence, which — not that some girls weren’t perps — turned out to be more about increased reporting through zero-tolerance policies, etc. Before that, some of you may recall, it was sexually aggressive girls calling their crushes on that old-fashioned gadget, what do you call it, the corded phone? “Mean Girls.” “Do-me Feminists.” You name it. (Also, apparently, simultaneously, girls are getting more goody-goody. Go fig.) While our society has absolutely, definitely, indubitably become more more sensitized and prone to glamorized sex, violence, and sexualized violence, seems to me there have always been, and will always be, girls on both sides.
Also…hyenas? Hyenas. (Girls acting like stereotypical horny boys. Can it be coincidence that the female spotted hyena mates through a “pseudo-penis?”) Listen: you can argue, at least, that the “cougar” is, I don’t know, a majestic beast. But the hyena? Yes, the hyena is considered a skilled hunter. But the hyena is not pretty. The hyena’s pelt is not prized. There is no sleek, elegant car called the Hyena. The hyena’s vocalization has been compared to a human laugh of the “hysterical” variety.
Dr. Jenn, if you want to honor girls, do not call them hyenas. Do not coin a calculatedly, transparently, sleazily headline-courting term that will do little but promote snickering and stereotype — even if (especially if!) the core of what you’re saying about girls and boys and health and respect has some merit and comes from a place of real and sincere concern. If your message is that kids want respect, then you’ve got to give it to them first.
March 25, 2009
“At 22, Leslie Morgan Steiner seemed to have it all, a Harvard diploma, a glamorous job and apartment in NYC, and a handsome boyfriend. But this golden girl was hiding a dark secret. She’d made a mistake shared by millions, she fell in love with the wrong person…”
Watch the video trailer for Crazy Love here.
March 19, 2009
Speaking of Carrie and Randy, I told you so.
From today’s New York Times:
Moreover, teenage girls can’t be expected to support Rihanna just because of her gender, youth culture experts say. They see themselves as sharing equal responsibility with boys. Parity, not sisterhood, is the name of the game.
During a presentation about dating violence [!!!] to ninth graders at Hostos-Lincoln Academy this week, one girl said, “If they hit you, smack them back. Both my parents say that to me.”
When Danielle Shores, 17, a high school junior in Austin, Tex., heard about the fight, she thought: “Yeah, men hit women, and women hit men. It was blown out of proportion because they’re celebrities.”
She sounded miffed. “My best friend got hit by her boyfriend, and I don’t see people making a big deal about it,” Ms. Shores said.
Good: girls see themselves and their peers as strong, expected to take care of themselves. Sad: that means hitting back — and shrugging it away* — rather than telling anyone who hits them to step the eff off.
What, if not this, is it gonna take? For the moment, I have no answers.
* At least outwardly. Wonder how many are trembling, or at least conflicted, inside.
March 17, 2009
Another day, another survey showing many teens blame Rihanna for this mess.
From the Boston Herald:
“Experts say teens may be inclined to be sympathetic to Brown because of his popularity and the ‘normalization of violence’ in pop culture. ‘(Chris Brown) is or had been promoted as the kid next door, he was familiar and likeable,’ said [Deborah] Collins-Gousby, who works for Casa Myrna-Vazquez, a Boston-based anti-violence organization that operates a 24-hour teen violence hotline and a citywide outreach program. ‘Among teens, I think their first reaction was, well, what did she do to deserve a beating that significant?'”
The right question to ask, of course, is, “Who says anyone ‘deserves’ a beating?” The attitude captured in these surveys speaks to a disturbing misunderstanding of and desensitization to violence, “dating” and otherwise. That said, I also think there’s some interesting, if misguided, feminism at work underneath: the sense that today’s young women are now too strong to be mere “victims.” It’s utterly wrong-headed in this context, yes, and the “silver lining,” such as it is, is tarnished by the incident that brought it all up. But: no one in this conversation is about to call women “the weaker sex.” And that, in its own twisted way, is progress.
March 12, 2009
Listen to Oprah! Tyra too! (And BG!)
March 10, 2009
March 3, 2009
From BG’s alter-ego, at The Daily Beast:
You probably heard that singer Chris Brown, after turning himself in for beating his girlfriend, Rihanna, enrolled in anger-management classes in an effort to, as Rolling Stone reported, “repair his image.” Swell. Where can I sign up?
Because as images go, Brown’s seems to be doing remarkably, enragingly, well. True, Brown was promptly dropped from his now-creepy Got Milk? and Wrigley’s Gum ad campaigns, and from the upcoming film, Bone Deep. And it’s not hard to find folks who have forever redacted “Forever” from their iPods. But otherwise, the whitewash seems to be flowing like Cristal at Clive Davis’ bash—and not just from the bonehead sector of the blogosphere (though yeah, there is that).
Singer Ne-Yo told MTV that Brown is still his “homeboy at the end of the day.” Kanye West reportedly asked a crowd to “Give Chris a break.” The New York Daily News asked, “Could Rihanna use [anger management] too?” CNN’s Kiran Chetry wondered if Rihanna—yes, Rihanna—might, moving forward, suffer the “stigma” of abuse. The Chicago Tribune reported that many area teens figured Rihanna must have done something to provoke Brown’s alleged assault. “People said, ‘I would have punched her around too,'” noted one sophomore. “And these were girls!”
Yes, Brown is technically innocent until proven guilty. And America believes in redemption and rehabilitation, often to its credit. But America also has a long and proud tradition of turning on celebrities quicker than you can say “Perez Hilton.” We put our stars through the wringer when they hurl cellphones at housekeepers or throw tantrums on movie sets, and in the end, rightly or wrongly, we tend to forgive them. But why is Brown, at least right now, seen as anything but Asshole of the Month? What makes it so easy for people to leap to his defense—at her expense?
Continue reading here.
February 23, 2009
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From the Chicago Tribune:
Ed Loos, a junior at Lake Forest High School, said a common reaction among students to Chris Brown’s alleged attack on Rihanna goes something like this: “Ha! She probably did something to provoke it.” In Chicago, Sullivan High School sophomore Adeola Matanmi has heard the same. “People said, ‘I would have punched her around too,’ ” Matanmi said. “And these were girls!”
As allegations of battery swirl around the famous couple, experts on domestic violence say the response from teenagers just a few years younger shows the desperate need to educate this age group about dating violence.