I’ll take a free drink when offered. I went through a phase where I watched every episode of Law and Order: SVU. I read all three of the Dragon Tattoo books. I listen to the Hip Hop/Pop station here. I really like the video for Eminem’s The Way You Lie.
This rant started around halloween. I had many friends talking about what they were going to be for halloween at 24 I have a lot of friends that were the classics: Sailors, Cops, Vampires. But throw the word sexy in front of all of those. Don’t get me wrong you have every right to wear how ever little you want on halloween but here’s my problem. My students are 11-13 and they want to be like you. They think I’m okay but they know that I don’t dress like that (sorry boys) so really they want to be like you. You in the fish net stockings and hooker pumps. I get that this nothing new so that’s that part.
I can’t always listen to NPR sometimes in the morning sometimes I need something more upbeat. So I listen to my local top 40 station. They are hosting a concert called the “triple ho show.” I’m sorry but every time they say it I cringe. My girl students have used that word and if you didn’t know it means prostitute. I don’t care if you have reclaimed the word and now it’s slang. It means hooker or whore. It is a dirty word and every time they say it makes me sad that no one cares. But it’s not like I’ve never used the word bitch before. So crap. Am I better? probably not.
I’ll take a free drink when offered. I don’t know why this is here but I feel like it’s in the same category.
Sam posted on twitter that he liked the Dragon Tattoo books. And so did I. But here is my question for all of you:
Have you become desensitized?
When you watch L&O are you grossed out? Sickened? I’m not really. Did Dragon Tattoo bug you? It did me but I read it greedily. Does the word bitch bug you? I use it often.
And I wonder why my girls are having self worth issues. F. I am doing something wrong but it’s so ingrained in our culture how do I fix it?
I know that things aren’t terrible for women. I just want better. I want to do better for my students.
5 thoughts on “On women, young girls and desensitization.”
things aren’t terrible, but they could be a whole lot better. our culture can be pretty insidious sometimes. thanks for writing this.
I find the video for “The Way You Lie” heartbreaking. Absolutely heartbreaking. It seems to come on the radio every time I’m driving home from my 8 hour training for the local queer domestic violence organization. Without fail, after I’ve spent the last 8 hours talking about systems of violence, oppression, abuse, control, and about people whose partners actually do light their house on fire – that damn song plays.
And I want to see the complexity, because Rihanna is a survivor and I support survivors, as a rule. But that video? I just can’t. Domestic violence is complicated and it’s hard and people stay because they love their partners – but to make it sexy? Ugh.
I find that far more heartbreaking than fishnets. I certainly don’t want young people to think that women are only valuable when they are sexy and in fishnets, but desensitized to sex and desensitized to violence are different things. Seeing sexual violence as more about sex than violence though, that scares me. It’s not sex that I’m afraid of, but the expectation that anyone’s body – but usually women’s bodies – are always already available for consumption. That consent is a joke or uncool. This desensitization? That’s what rape culture looks like. When we don’t flinch or pause or reel back with disgust when we see misogyny and sexual violence – when we expect it, because it’s been normalized.
I don’t use the word bitch. It began being used to refer to women during slavery. White slave owners would rape their black female slaves – seeing them primarily as baby makers, as sources of new free labor, like dogs. If the sexism weren’t enough to convince me, the racism imbued in that word erased it from my vocabulary. I use “shitty” or “asshole” or “jackass” instead.
I ❤ you. And it's hard because we're surrounded by all of this crap – but I think that noticing the desensitization is one really important step.
Sometimes I feel like you are inside my head! (Maybe because I am also a 24 year old female who teaches middle school math?) 🙂 I know you say you’re not a writer, but you always write it better than I ever could.
Anyways I just wanted to mention I read a book this summer called “The Gender Knot.” I don’t know if you have heard of it, but if not, I definitely recommend it because it touches on these issues you are talking about.
You already are helping, because every day you behave in a way that shows your students you respect yourself and you respect them. We can’t just fix this and make it go away. There are too many inputs. But you’re one of the inputs, and a very positive one. I promise that some of the time, when some of your girls are deciding how to act, they think about how you act.
I think about these kinds of things very often. It’s hard not to when you consider yourself a feminist but also put yourself into positions that others might not consider those of a feminist. You wonder why you do what you do and how you justify it compared to other cases. I use the word bitch but I should probably use asshole like Jo said, or even better try erasing curse words from my vocab (hahaha what a joke). If I ever use ho, ho bag or whore it’s because I’m talking about a promiscuous person (male or female) but I almost always feel really bad after saying it.
I also agree with Jo about the fishnets and such. It’s not a problem that girls want to feel sexy, it’s a problem that because they want to feel sexy people read it as they want to be taken advantage of. I don’t know if there is a guy equivalent to fishnets really. They can wear tight jeans or tight shirts to show off their package or muscles but no one ever comments on their sex lives because of what they wear (unless of course they are wearing something completely out of the “norm” then people get rude again.)
I HATE the song “love the way you lie” I turn it off if I hear one (maybe two) notes of it. I haven’t been in that kind of relationship and maybe, just maybe they are trying to explain to the common public what it is like but to make it sexy is to glorify it and that I am completely against.
But then I listen to the hip hop and rap that talks about women like they are objects, I dance to it at clubs and sometimes I even sing along. It’s not right but I’m not ready to change it. So where does that leave me, the self named feminist, should I turn in my badge? Or do I get to keep it because in most of my life I don’t let men treat me like that? That doesn’t seem fair either though, because I let other women be called those things and so does that make me seem like I think I’m better?
I don’t know if there is any way to put everything in line with my beliefs 100%.
I fear for young girls/women though. I want them to know that they deserve better than what they are asking for from guys in their lives. Are their guys in middle school worrying about how to pleasure their girl right? Maybe 1 in 1,000. Why? Because if a girl does something wrong or bad she gets talked about and her private business goes around, if a guy is bad at any sexual act (especially at that age) it doesn’t get past around like a joke. Most girls don’t even know to think about themselves. Believe me, I’m not saying middle schoolers should be sexually active AT ALL, save some childhood time! Be free from feeling like you have to look perfect all the time. Save it for later when the world considers you an adult.
I just want to tell girls “Stay young as long as you can. Stay innocent and naive and wide eyed to the world. And when others laugh, just know they are hurting on the inside from growing up too fast.”