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America’s sex-mad culture

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    `Years ago there used to be separate worlds for children. Now they are exposed to the same things adults experience. Today we have very young parents and we
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 8, 2008
      `Years ago there used to be separate worlds for children. Now they
      are exposed to the same things adults experience. Today we have very
      young parents and we aren't protecting our children. Popular
      psychology said that this was OK.'—Dr. Tarshia Stanley, a Spelman
      College English professor

      America's sex-mad culture
      By Richard Muhammadand Nisa Islam Muhammad
      The Final Call

      Corporate drive for profits is damaging girls, women and eroding
      healthy relationships The Value of the Female (FCN, Minister
      Farrakhan, 08-20-2005)(FinalCall.com) - College-age women often come
      to Professor Gail Dines in tears after she lectures about how
      popular culture has become poisoned with a hyper sexuality that
      demands women offer themselves to any man who asks.

      The young women feel isolated and alone because they refuse to
      degrade themselves in exchange for male companionship, said the
      professor of sociology and women's studies at Wheelock College in
      Boston and founder of the Stop Porn Culture movement. It's time to
      end a corporate-driven effort to promote "slut culture" in the
      United States, Professor Dines said. The oppression and misuse of
      women is not new to America, or American culture, but many see a
      crisis of misogynistic and racist elements that are damaging the
      soul of the nation and hurting children, women and men in the
      process. Black women, in particular, have historically been
      portrayed as sexual objects to justify slavery, rape, sexual abuse
      and denial of respect and opportunity, advocates and scholars say.

      Negative messages solely concerned with "hotness" and sex appeal are
      also being pushed on adolescents and younger girls in a dangerous
      way, advocates warn. Adolescence is the time when girls form an
      identity based on messages from society, said Professor Dines. If
      the messages focus on physical attributes and access to men, the
      young girls are not growing in a healthy way, she said. Professor
      Dines will be featured at "The Sexualization of Childhood"
      symposium, June 13-14, at Point Park University in Pittsburgh.

      The American Psychological Association, in a study released last
      year, reported that girls and young women suffered intellectual,
      psychological and physical problems as a result of messages that
      push sexualization, which is defined as a "person's value coming
      only from his or her sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of
      other characteristics; a person is held to a standard that equates
      physical attractiveness (narrowly defined) with being sexy; a person
      is sexually objectified—that is, made into a thing for others'
      sexual use, rather than seen as a person with the capacity for
      independent action and decision making, and/or; sexuality is
      inappropriately imposed upon a person."

      Researchers looked at a wide form of media—television, music videos,
      music lyrics, magazines, movies, video games and the internet as
      well as advertising campaigns and found messages in advertising,
      merchandising and products aimed at girls. According to the
      research, the sexualization of girls and young women: undermined
      feelings of confidence and comfort with their own bodies, leading to
      emotional and self-image problems, such as shame and anxiety; was
      linked with three of the most common mental health problems
      diagnosed in girls and women—eating disorders, low self-esteem, and
      depression or depressed mood; had negative consequences on girls'
      ability to develop a healthy sexual self-image.

      Marketing sex to children "A lot of very sexual products are being
      marketed to very young kids," said University of Iowa journalism
      professor Gigi Durham. "I'm criticizing the unhealthy and damaging
      representations of girls' sexuality, and how the media present
      girls' sexuality in a way that's tied to their profit motives."

      "The body ideals presented in the media are virtually impossible to
      attain, but girls don't always realize that, and they'll buy an
      awful lot of products to try to achieve those bodies. There's
      endless consumerism built around that," she said. When a teen TV
      sensation, Miley Cyrus was pictured nearly nude in a Vanity Fair
      magazine controversy erupted.

      "Although Disney's `Hannah Montana' franchise was reportedly one of
      the most prolific in the industry, following Miley Cyrus' recent
      photo shoot with Annie Leibovitz in which she is pictured with her
      bare back, covered only by a piece of fabric, looking sensually at
      the camera, audiences for the latest episode of the show dropped 14%
      from the previous fresh episode, which aired just under two months
      earlier, New York Daily News reported," according to writer Chris
      Georg of eFluxMedia.com. The piece was headlined "Miley Covers Up
      As `Hannah Montana' Ratings Drop."

      "Compared to the first original show of the year, which aired in
      January, viewership for Sunday's show was down 26%. An estimated 3.1
      million viewers tuned in for `Hannah's' 7 p.m. Sunday edition, which
      aired out of the network's usual pattern for fresh episodes," wrote
      Mr. Georg. Others appear less worried about public opinion and more
      obsessed with profits from pushing adult-style products on children.

      According to Ms. Durham, Abercrombie & Fitch sold little girls thong
      underwear tagged with the phrases "eye candy" and "wink wink." Young
      readers of the magazine Seventeen were offered "405 ways to look
      hot" like Paris Hilton.

      The sexualization of `tween girls, girls between the ages of 8 and
      12, is a growing problem fueled by marketers' efforts to create
      cradle-to-grave consumers, Ms. Durham explained.

      "The consequences of the sexualization of girls in media today are
      very real and are likely to be a negative influence on girls'
      healthy development," said Eileen L. Zurbriggen, PhD, chair of the
      American Psychological Association Task Force and associate
      professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa

      "Years ago there used to be separate worlds for children. Now they
      are exposed to the same things adults experience. Today we have very
      young parents and we aren't protecting our children. Popular
      psychology said that this was OK," explained Dr. Tarshia Stanley, a
      Spelman College English professor.

      "As a result, we have really high rates of teen pregnancy in the
      industrialized world, twice that of the U.K. and eight times that of
      Japan," added Ms. Durham.

      The increased sexualization of young girls coincides with the
      increase over time in teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases
      and single parent households. According to the Alan Guttmacher
      Institute, Black women have the highest teen pregnancy rate (134 per
      1,000 women aged 15-19), followed by Hispanics (131 per 1,000) and
      non-Hispanic whites (48 per 1,000).

      Although the pregnancy rate among Black teens has decreased 40
      percent between 1990 and 2000, more than the overall U.S. teen
      pregnancy rate declined during the same period, it still remains the
      highest in the country.

      A March report by the Centers for Disease Control found Black
      teenage girls had the highest prevalence of sexually transmitted
      disease at 48 percent compared to 20 percent among both Whites and
      Mexican Americans.

      "Moreover, one in four girls in this country have had a sexually
      transmitted disease. We are not doing it right; we are not giving
      these girls what they need," said Dr. Stanley.

      Oppression, racism and Black females

      La Vida Davis, of the Chicago-based Asha Group, sees the use of
      sexual and harmful images as part of the historical degradation of
      Black women and oppression. Her group co-sponsored a Mother's Day
      campaign in Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles that gave radio
      stations an approved playlist of alternative songs to counter
      corporate driven and sexually-oriented songs. She also quickly
      points out that music is only one part of the problem.

      Historically women across all races have been seen as property, but
      Black women have been especially debased, she observed. During
      slavery, the Black woman's value was connected to how many children
      she could bear and servicing the sexual needs of slave owners, Ms.
      Davis said. The current situation is consistent with America's sad
      history and a White patriarchal society, she said.

      Another problem is Black internalization of oppression, which is
      borne out in the "pimp and hoe" culture and even support for singer
      R. Kelly, who is accused of sexual crimes against a child, she said.
      Singer Beyonce is talented, but her clothing line, which doesn't
      show skin still sells lip gloss and grown folks clothes to children,
      Ms. Davis said. It's unsettling that clothes are sold to children
      that look like clothes made for adults, she said.

      "It says you are valuable for how you look," said the activist and
      community organizer. Little girls are taught to trade their bodies
      for benefits and acceptance, Ms. Davis said. Their only value is
      what they can be used for and for boys the question is how
      many "hoes" do I have, she added. "Boys as well as girls are put in
      boxes to play out this foolishness," she said.

      Professor Dines, of Wheelock College, believes the aggressive sexual
      culture and negative images of Black men promoted by White corporate
      execs is undermining Black male and female relationships. The Black
      community is the most besieged community in America and if you break
      down and undermine the relationships, just like Whites did in
      slavery, it allows for control of Blacks, she said. The hyper sexual
      image of the Black woman was used to justify raping Black women in
      slavery, Professor Dines said.

      The self image of Black girls that traditionally rose during their
      teen years is being chipped away and all girls are engaging in more
      indiscriminate sex, she said.

      "They are capitulating because they don't know any alternative,"
      Professor Dines said.

      Overall relationships are suffering as men find it difficult to have
      healthy relationships with women because of exposure to pornography,
      she added. These men are often very upset because they are
      experiencing real problems, Professor Dines added.

      "While people protest the images they see on channels like BET,
      people are rewarded for these images. Girls see that the ones who do
      this get money, glamour, fame and power. The anti-BET message is
      just one in a whirlwind of thousands of messages about sex that
      girls receive," said Dr. Stanley of Spelman College.

      "Music is now all about sex. In order to groove to a beat, the body
      is moving, but what you are doing is the sex act standing up," said
      the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, in a lecture at Mosque
      Maryam, where he talked about the value of women.

      `Let girls be girls'

      In Ms. Durham's new book, "The Lolita Effect," she identifies the
      myths of sexuality that are believed by many in society. Sexual
      representations of children are getting younger with images of girls
      as young as 11 or 12, Ms. Durham said. Chris Richburg, writing on
      allhiphop.com took on Beyonce and ads for her new House of Dereon
      kids clothing line, Dereon Girls.

      "The ads apparently show seven-year-old girls wearing feather boas,
      leopard hats, full make-up and high heels as they pose in front of
      the camera. … I know you got to make that money, but having a bunch
      of mini-yous on display may not be the best way to go. Tone it down
      and let the girls be girls."

      Black men and women need healthier relationships that are not so
      focused on looks and appreciate individual gifts everyone has, said
      Ms. Davis. Blacks must become conscious consumers and parents must
      communicate with children about messages in the media, music and
      society, she said.

      "We got talk about it, it's not enough to say this bad and censor
      it," she said. Alternatives in music, books and movies and need to
      be supported, Ms. Davis continued. Teen actress Raven Symone, who
      also has a show on the Disney Channel, has had an amazing career,
      she said.

      Issues like sexual assault and domestic violence must also be
      included into larger Black agendas and not seen as separate, Ms.
      Davis added. The subjugation of women and girls is connected to
      failing education, lack of jobs and other oppression, she said.

      "How sisters go goes the race," Ms. Davis said.

      [The condition of society is determined by the status of its women. -
      Prophet Mohammed]

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