Saturday, November 16, 2013

How Mainstream Media & Pop Culture Perpetuate Sexual Violence Against Women & Girls

I'm your everyday parent raising a teenage girl in a time where sexual abuse, exploitation and rape culture are glorified in mainstream media and pop culture.  I have gone to great lengths to protect my daughter from sexual content, especially when she was under the age of 16 years. That doesn't mean she wasn't exposed to inappropriate content - you can not avoid school ground chatter, or what your child is exposed to while in the care of others.  You also can not control what is being pushed out by Media of all forms (traditional or digital) and having accidental exposure to x-rated or even soft-porn content.

I recall my daughter coming home in elementary school asking me questions about some very explicit sexual acts.  I was shocked she even knew what these acts were because when I grew up, we didn't learn about these acts until late junior high.  At the time, my daughter was in grade three attending an elementary school that neighbours a large Junior High school.

After doing some investigating, I came to find out a few things there were taking place on the school grounds and at daycare that were very concerning to me.  Some boys from the junior high had passed out porn magazines to the elementary school age children.  This lead to older elementary school age boys attending the same daycare as my daughter, to having sex conversations while at day care.  These boys discussed BJ's and how some girls in my daughter's grade were putting out.  

So lets stop right there for a moment.  At the time, I highly doubt these girls were engaging in sex and had any idea of what was being said about them.  In fact, we had an experience in my own home that proved this point.  My daughter had a group of children in for supper one evening. I had to leave the kitchen to attend to something, and when I came back I heard lots of 'ew gross' coming from the girls and loud laughter coming from the boys.  I knew something was up so I asked what was going on.  Nobody spoke up so I called my daughter out of the room and asked what was going on.  She shared with me the boys were talking about a specific girl in their grade that was giving BJ's and sleeping around.  I made the decision to go into the room and discuss how this is an inappropriate conversation.  I gently asked questions that gave me insight that the kids didn't even know what they were talking about. I put an end to the conversation and established rules with consequences if I heard conversations like this taking place again.  

After these experiences, I made a clear decision to talk very respectfully on the topic, and felt I was forced to discuss the birds and the bees in a very real manner with my daughter ahead of the time I actually expected to share this with her. 

The point of me telling this story - it was the distribution of porn magazines on the school grounds that lead to these children having sexual conversations, which this leads me to write this blog post.

Since being involved in Women & Girl leadership programs, working directly with people who have faced sexual exploitation and abuse, you learn very quickly there is much victim blaming that takes place with little to no accountability held against those who foster and cultivate rape culture.  In recent years, there have been some high media profile cases in Canada that has hit the hearts and conscience of Canadians, sparking debates on how to address the problems associated with sex crimes.

The bottom line is, there is much work to be done and Canadian Adults need to take personal leadership in addressing this matter, as parents and guardians, as professionals, as people who care about treating everyone with respect, love and honour.


Lets take a look at how mainstream media and pop culture contribute and perpetuate sexual violence against women and girls.

Today, both young girls and boys are very confused of what is expected of them. We need to revert back to censorship of sexual content on mainstream media and digital media. Pop Culture glorifies rape culture and sexual abuse, extortion & harassment against women and girls. Turn on the TV and main stream popular shows contain soft porn content. Movies, Music, Teen Magazines, Billboard advertising - it is every where. Our MEDIA in all forms is watering down our societal moral compass - MEDIA produces on-mass the over-sexualization of young girls, just watch CBC Doc Zone Sext Up Kids: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5kiBqc7vyg

While parents and guardians can take measures to ban sexual content from their homes, it's getting near impossible with Push Marketing techniques, where it's in your face all the time. Driving in your car in large cities, you come across billboards and transit advertising  (vehicles, buses & bus stop shelters) that  contain sexual content. Walk through a mall and view the advertising images outside retail outlets, enter retail outlets playing LMFAO, Robin Thicke, Miley Sirus as the background music. Turn on your computer and there are pop-up advertising and banner ads that you are forced to view, even if you have tight security to block sexual content - it often gets pushed through anyway.  Spam email asking for hook-ups coming in to the in-boxes of youth, somehow getting past the filters.  Popular cartoon shows with scantly dressed females, Teen Magazines with pre-teens dressed like young women in their twenty's.  It's very hard to escape, pretty much impossible.

In my opinion it is time to revert back to censorship from the 70's and 80's.  I recall quite distinctly radio and television stations banning sexually explicit content.  I strongly believe we need to revert back to this time when we had 'clean shows and music' being made available to the masses, and in order gain access to such content, you had to purchase at retail outlets that had to require special authorization to distribute it.


HERE ARE THE IMPACTS OF OVER EXPOSURE TO SEXUAL CONTENT:

1) The younger someone is exposed to sexual content - and the more frequent they are exposed, the more at risk they are for being involved with a sexual crime either as the victim or the predator/criminal

2) For average youth, they are confused. They are being exposed to sexual content that demeans women / girls and are objectified. Boys think this is normal behavior in how girls want to be treated, while girls think this is what boys want - so both sexes find themselves doing things that are criminal. Meanwhile girls do not like being treated like this, and many boys do not like demeaning girls sexually

3) In extreme cases boys are being trained to sexually abuse, harass and exploit girls - they see it as normal because that is what they are exposed to on a regular basis from a young age



HERE IS A PRIME EXAMPLE OF HOW OUR SOCIETY IS FAILING OUR KIDS:

Lets take the song Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke. There is no question this song glorifies date rape and rape culture. Lines like "You're the hottest bitch in this place", "Let me liberate you", worse yet "I'll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two".

In case you haven't taken the time to actually read the lyrics, I suggest you do: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/robinthicke/blurredlines.html

Sure it's a catchy song - but lets face it - any parent who has a daughter would not condone her involvement in this type of relationship, and if her boyfriend forced his power on her - well - that wouldn't go down so well either.   

YET ..... because it's a catchy tune:

1) Many parents and guardians blast this tune in their car, in their house

2) Retail outlets play it in their stores

3) Large commercial business are using it as their theme song in national/international Television commercials

4) Talk show hosts like Oprah & Ellen are propping the artist up and saying they like the song

5) YouTube and Social Media are playing the normal and x-rated versions of the song - soft-and-hard porn immediately available spread on mass across the social web


USING THIS EXAMPLE - WHO HAS FAILED OUR YOUTH?
  1. The artist
  2. The Music Industry
  3. Parents & Guardians
  4. Media & Broadcasting Stations
  5. Social Media Platforms
  6. Advertisers
  7.  Retail Outlets
  8. Office Buildings
  9. Large Corporate Business
  10. Any adult that plays this song or provides access to this song to a minor


I'm sure there are many others - anyone who has glorified this song and others like it are the ones to blame! Each entity in this list has fostered,cultivated and perpetuated sexual violence against women and girls in their support of this song through their own behavior and actions ... keeping in mind adults set the tone of what is acceptable behavior ... in this case ADULTS HAVE FAILED!!

And then some people have the audacity to blame children?

Something that is new to me that I learned through watching the Sextortion of Amanda Todd documentary on Fifth Estate is the new type of Criminal called Caper - this is very scary! How does it come to pass that our young men think that this is normal and acceptable behavior? What is wrong with our society that there would be such a large increase in this type of behavior?



MY FINAL THOUGHTS: At one time, to gain access to sexual content, you had to purchase a porn magazine or video by showing I.D. - usually your driver's license. The 'porn' section in a movie rental place or book store was usually secluded and difficult to gain access - you had to show ID to enter this section. At one time, we had censorship laws that did not allow sexual content in movies, music, tv shows, media. You know, those good old fashion laws need to be re-instated! We need control over the amount of sexual content that is being pushed out so we eliminate over exposure at such young ages. FURTHER - the technology abilities exist that Internet and social media sites can ban sexual content and there should be laws that these sties have to conform with. For adults to gain access to this content - they should have to provide their S.I.N. Number, Drivers License and other pieces of ID into an online form before they gain access to it.