The FIFA World Cup is the largest sporting event in the world. The 32 best national male soccer teams compete, attracting an audience of more than 26 million people worldwide and costing billions of dollars every time it is staged. This time, the host country of the cup was Brazil, and advertisers and media outlets were happy to produce a variety of world-cup themed images in order to cash in on the soccer craze. Whether it’s beer, cars, lingerie, fast food or soft drinks, companies were eagerly drawing upon nationalist sentiments as well as staging their products within a Brazilian wonderland to attract millions of soccer fans to their brand.
These two strands – nationalist symbolism and the romanticization of Brazil as an exotic and beautiful playground – tie into another popular trope used in the World Cup imagery: that of the beautiful, scantly-clothed woman present merely as something to be looked at in order to complete the straight male soccer fans’ wet dream.
SPARK is producing a new play in New York City! UNFINISHED: Girls of Today, Wives of Tomorrow is an original play with songs and dances that offers creative strategies for ending the sexualization of girls. All performances are free and include a discussion with the writer/performers following the show. Performances run from May 28th - 31st, so if you live in the NYC area, pull out your calendar and pencil it in!
"If you’ve looked at a teen mag lately, I think you can guess what they found – images of girls have gotten more sexualized over time. The number of sexualizing characteristics of girls in Seventeentripled and the number of sexualizing characteristics in Girls’ Life multiplied by 15 – yikes! Most of these changes in sexualization were really recent—like in the 2000s, and a little in the 1990s. They also found that, especially in Girls’ Life, the number of images with “childlike characteristics” have decreased over time. Or in other words,these magazines show pictures of girls-as-women, not girls-as-children.
So what does this really mean? Over time, they found that the images of girls were more sexualized and in Girl’s Life there was less “girl” –as in things that are childlike—and more images of sexualized women. But what’s the big deal? Well, we know that at least 35% of teenage girls read magazines every day. That’s a lot of exposure to these types of images. And this can be really bad for girls. Here at SPARK, our mission is to “take sexy back,” but that doesn’t include bombarding girls with sexualized pictures. Constantly seeing images of older, sexualized girls can lead to girls thinking they need to look like those grown-up images in the magazines. The desire to fit into a narrow idealized version of femininity can lead girls to feeling ashamed of their bodies or becoming overly concerned with their appearance. We know that focusing too much on appearances (aka trying to “look sexy”) can get in the way of girls’ developing a healthy embodied sexuality that is rooted in feeling sexy. It’s just not good for girls to equate ‘being grown up’ with being sexualized.”
by Kimberly Belmonte
Clearly society likes to objectify African American women while simultaneously shaming them for their sexuality. Basically, black women’s bodies only acceptable when other people are controlling them. Growing up surrounded by these messages causes a lot of confusion and anger—I can vouch for that. I live in a world that tells me how to act, but there doesn’t seem to be any kind of “acceptable” behavior. Every day I see women who look like me face consequences no matter how they act. From a young age, I learned that I was in a perpetual lose-lose situation.
During conversations about the DREAM Act and other legislation that would make it easier for undocumented immigrants to become citizens, I’ve encountered a number of peers who have suddenly changed their stance to “support” immigration reform because they have a perverted obsession with Latina women. Whenever immigration comes up, these guys immediately mention their infatuation with Jennifer Lopez, Salma Hayek, Shakira, or Selena Gomez. Words like “exotic” and “spicy” get thrown around, like they’re describing a dish at a restaurant rather than an actual person.
A bill that could send women to prison for going topless in public appears set for approval by the North Carolina legislature.
Triggered by two topless rallies held in Asheville, the Republican-backed bill headed to a floor vote in the House and would amend the state’s indecent exposure law to expand the legal definition of “private parts” to explicitly include “the nipple, or any portion of the areola, or the female breast.”
exposure of dude nips remains a-ok because of course
ATTN: WRITERS, PLAYWRIGHTS, SONGWRITERS, THEATER PPL ETC.
We are launching a new project focusing on girls’ experiences with sexualization, and we want your submissions! Inspired by works like The Vagina Monologues, we want to curate 20 monologues/poems/songs/standup comedy acts/literally whatever for a theater piece to be performed annually across the country & the world. Submissions are open NOW and go until March 15th, 2013. Get on this!
These images show two women together in sexual or sexualized situations. However, they have a few factors in common that reveal the ways queer female sexuality is used and appropriated for the pleasure of a male audience. Notice that all of these women are conventionally attractive and feminine—thin, white, long hair, wearing dresses and high heels. Notice that none of the women are looking at each other. Now notice that in every picture, one of the women is looking directly out at the camera and viewer—inviting the observer into the picture instead of connecting with the other woman.
This perfectly displays the way in which queer female relationships are co-opted and distorted to make them more acceptable. These women are not being allowed to relate to each other, only to a viewer. They must fit the narrow mold of what society considers beautiful. They must be clearly on display for someone else to observe.
Girls are conditioned to believe that their power comes from being sexy and that Halloween is the perfect time to manifest that. It’s totally a sexist double standard, of course, but it’s powerful, and it means that wanting to indulge in it is both super common and super confusing. Your costume is your choice, my lovely readers, and it’s up to you to decide how much you want to show, but how are we as young women supposed to meaningfully decide our limits when every costume maker on the planet is trying to get us to show our butts? How do we negotiate all of these different factors into our decision making without seeming like we’ve bought into some stupid notion about sex and power that people have been trying to sell us since we were little? It seems like no matter what happens, they win, we lose, and they want to keep it that way.
Wanting to wear a sexy costume doesn’t make you an idiot or a slut, just like not wearing a sexy costume doesn’t make you a Super Feminist immune to all media. We need to get beyond critiquing individuals for their costume choices, and spend more time and energy calling out the industries that make it so difficult for us to negotiate our own desires.
*drops the mic*
Halloween vid of the day: TheeKatsMeoww takes a group of kids into a costume shop and finds…well…