Thursday, September 8, 2011

Two Stories, One Issue: Sexualization of Women's Bodies

Two articles on Jezebel this morning stood out to me and are directly connected; toddlers dressed as Hookers, and a woman is sexually harassed.  The first article: Pageant Mom Defends Dressing 3-Year-Old As Pretty Woman Prostitute, a mother from Toddlers & Tiaras defends dressing her very young daughter in an outfit resembling the hooker-look Julia Roberts sported in the early scenes of Pretty Woman
Photo from
Sure enough TLC didn't show the adorable polka dot dress, that was cut!  I get that young girls and boys like to play dress-up.  But these pageants take this idea to a serious extreme, where these girls are being taught, at a very young age, that they will be judged primarily on their looks.  I always wonder what other activities these toddlers are exposed to other than learning the proper placement their hand should be on their waist.

Jezebel got just the right touch of sarcasm ending the piece with "Shame on those parents who encourage their girls to play sports! In addition exposing them to the perils of moving, they're giving them the false idea that society will judge them on their abilities, not what they look like in a swimsuit."

where a woman not only reported the incident to the station manager, but also had evidence of multiple pictures and a video and nothing was done!  Now, while I'm sure some may say he wasn't causing any harm to her, he didn't make any advancements towards her directly, hell they weren't even on the same platform.  But should a woman, who is already very aware of her vulnerabilities alone on a platform at 3 a.m., or at any time of the day for that matter, have to tolerate such behavior?  Should she have to allow herself to become objectified in such a disrespectful and intrusive way?  To the people who would say calm down, more dangerous things happen that should cause more alarm, I say if one of your friends, your mother, your sister, Aunt, Cousin, Niece, granddaughter, etc. told you this happened to her, what would your response be then?  I remember when my younger sister had first moved to NYC and not soon after told me a guy jerked-off in the same subway car as her.  I thought how scary that would be as a woman, alone, with a man who clearly has no respect for women, would it stop at just jerking-off?  

"There is so much that this world asks us to bear, as women. To ignore, to hope will go away. Hearing these stories has been both heartening and depressing.

Women are taught so many messages about how we need to behave in order to "prevent" sexual assault and sexual harassment in public spaces. How we need to look, how we need to dress, how we need to walk, how we need to make ourselves small and unremarkable, how we need to anticipate the behavior of others, how we must not "attract" the wrong kind of attention. Even though I resent that these messages fundamentally imply that women bear responsibility for insuring sexual assault does not occur, I still, almost in spite of myself, take all of these things into account when I get dressed and when I go out in public. To have already engineered your behavior to meet the threat of assault and then to still face criminal harassment just feels like an added injustice."
 And it's not that surprising that a man feels he can pull his dick out and start jerking-off because society continues to reinforce the notion that woman are here to be looked at, ultimately here for a man's pleasure.  Messages are sent to young girls like the new book I wrote about in Warning: Not Suitable for Children or the overwhelming presence and undeniable message of what is considered appealing (in the eyes of men) in What Came First, the Ad or the Attitude? With the above article, where mothers are not only allowing, but supporting the sexualization of their young daughters, I say shame on you.  

What do you think about Toddlers & Tiaras?  Have you ever been harassed and felt like there was nothing you could do, or did you do something and the authorities did nothing?  Comments are welcome or email me


  1. "it's not that surprising that a man feels he can pull his dick out and start jerking-off"

    Yes it is!!! I am a white male with all the privilege that comes with it and would never feel this was appropriate. This is the behavior of somebody who needs removing from society.

  2. Anonymous, as I stated, it's not that surprising because of all of the messages that reinforce women being second-class citizens. Not to say that the behavior is condoned or that it is typical, but that it happens at all is not surprising because of the hyper-sexualization of women from a very young age; hence the connection between the man caught with his pants down and the toddlers dressed as hookers. In no way, was I suggesting that all men think this is acceptable behavior, but I'm glad to have a male input! Thank you for your feedback.