Filed under: media — posted by Breakup Girl @ 1:02 pm
Clearly, the grownups aren’t at all sure what to do about sexting. While legal scholars (rightly) ponder when, whether, and most importantly how to prosecute sexters, one Pennsylvania school/DA threatened kids suspected of sexting with child pornography charges unless they took part in an after-school program which, among other things, required girls to write essays on why their actions were wrong; the goal: to “gain an understanding of what it means to be a girl in today’s society.” Is it shaming in here, or is it just me? To be sure, sexting should be taken seriously (as harassment and abuse). But why do I suspect — perhaps cynically, yes — that this focus on “what it means” will not include a full exploration of the deep cultural factors that appropriate and contain girls’ sexuality and limit their worth and self-expression to “hotness”? (Maybe it will; I hope I’m wrong.)
But as theoreotical counterpoint — and to counter the oft-peddled image of teens doing nothing all day but re-watching Twilight, playing Kill Everyone, and forwarding around naked photos of the French exchange student, I offer this: a reminder of many of the positive and, dare I say, actually empowering, ways that girls use social media.
As eleventh-grader Nadia Tareen — as part of a video series on media issues called Girls Investigate, a joint project of The Women’s Media Center (WMC) and Girls Learn International®, Inc. — writes:
Adults are often too fast to condemn teenagers’ use of technology. We aren’t as “clueless about online threats as some adults believe – Two-thirds of the teens who have created profiles have used privacy controls to limit access to them.” Also, I suspect that my parents and teachers are unaware of everything that my peers and I accomplish online. For example, social media is a great tool for activism. As the leader of my school’s chapter of Girls Learn International®, Inc., I have found that e-mail and Facebook messages are invaluable for organizing and spreading awareness. Teenagers even use social media to make their dreams come true. As an avid YouTube-watcher, I can cite at least a dozen teenagers who posted videos of their musical and comedic talents on the website, to then be discovered by industry professionals. If social media is used intelligently, it can yield endless benefits.
GirlTalk Radio is a podcast made by girls who love math and science. Hosted by 11-to-16 year olds, the program features interviews with diverse cadre of science-minded women—from stem cell researchers and computer scientists, to marine biologists and computational linguists. Even a CIA intelligence officer. Worth a listen for geek girls of all ages.
…It appears a growing number of young girls are not only being sexually assaulted [in school], but have come to think of it as a normal part of their educational experience.
Recent studies from both the Board’s Safety Panel and the Canadian Centre for Addiction and Mental Health show some shocking stats at one school: 33 per cent say they’ve been sexually harassed in the past two years; another 29 admit to having been touched or grabbed inappropriately and seven per cent have actually been victims of a major sexual assault.
“You just hear jokes [being yelled out] all the time that have to do with girls doing sexual things,” said Madison Fitzgerald, a Toronto high school student.
“There’s a lot of groping and touching in our school.,” said another.
But Connelly believes it’s a problem that’s endemic to halls of learning across the country. “One of the concerns is the alarming rate of gender-based violence, and 21 per cent of the students that were surveyed said that they knew at least one student who was sexually assaulted at school. Now there’s sexual harassment, which is talking inappropriately and there’s sexual harassment which is being touched inappropriately. So the 21 per cent are talking about sexual assault.
“Twenty-nine per cent of Grade 9 girls … felt unsafe at school partly due to sexual comments and unwanted looks or touches; 27 per cent of the girls in Grade 11 admitted to being pressured into doing something sexual that they did not want to do; 14 per cent of the females reported being harassed over the Internet.”
She worries that’s becoming the ‘new normal’ and an accepted mode of behaviour that’s just part of going to class everyday. “They take it for granted that this is the way they should be treated,” she concludes.
Some experts believe the situation is exacerbated because most kids don’t understand exactly what “sexual assault” actually entails.
But at least the grownups are finally starting to call it that. Though they may need to move a little more quickly to educate everyone about what’s appropriate and what’s just … no. Then — holy grail — you need to get the popular kids to call out the others when it happens.
Me, I remember a bit of vaguely line-crossing stuff that happened when I was in school, shortly after the Peloponnesian War. Whether or not I told, which I probably did not, I remember that in general the adults’ response would be “Eh, he’s just doing it because he likes you.” And I remember that weird mix of feelings that I didn’t know what to do with, that uncomfortably prickly mishmash of “Eee, really?! and “Eeuw.” Not helpful.
Q: What kind of sexual harassment is — or was — considered “normal” at your school? What, if anything, was done about it?
Filed under: News — posted by Breakup Girl @ 10:22 am
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.
A “power pocketbook” as some kind of superhero accessory, maybe. This, I think, is not that.
(Bold added by BG.)
I wanted to let you know I am working with ReBelle Friendship Bags, a line of handbags that strive to empower tween girls to believe in themselves and their friendships, regardless of the challenges they face. It’s the only handbag collection available exclusively to tweens and promotes multi-cultural cohesion and young female empowerment.
The detachable handbags come with a zipper down the middle so you can share the matching bag with your best friend. The bags come in special themes and accompany the ReBelle Story of six girls from places around the world that meet at summer camp and become pen pals.
Daisy Cook, the founder of ReBelle Friendship Bags, just launched the line to help reverse the negative impact the media and internet have on young girls. The bags are sold at http://friendshipbags.com/ and in stores and online at FAO Schwarz, www.FAO.com . Please contact me with any questions or to obtain hi-res images.