Pauline Cooper has written an excellent review of a new book, Getting Real: Challenging the Sexualisation of Girls. It's more than timely, well overdue, actually, and the review includes this gem:
As the contributors to this book demonstrate, women are instructed from an early age that their value stems from their sexual allure and availability. No longer are young girls aspiring to a place in parliament or to shatter the glass ceiling in their local law firm. Nowadays, they are taught that real girl power is acquired in the bedroom. From their peers, the media and other social authorities they are learning to prostitute themselves (metaphorically and literally) in the hope that in return they will receive love, intimacy, social acceptance and attain the happiness that is supposedly acquired with the perfect body (and outfit to match).
As Noni Hazlehurst affirms, “We have to wake up and smell the crap. It’s everywhere. And the weight of evidence that we are causing irreparable damage to our children is becoming overwhelming. Our children are bombarded with images and concepts that that they are not able to assimilate, understand or contextualise, even if they have parents or carers who might try and explain.”
The only quibble I would have with one of the essays is the obfucation about feminism:
Betty McLellan ... warns that it is dangerous to equate feminism with the sexual revolution as they are two completely different social movements. Promoters of the sexualisation of women and girls tell us that it is a matter of personal, individual choice. Yet McLellan makes the point that feminism must reject this assertion: “‘the personal is political,’ we say, ‘the way women and girls are treated in their personal lives is actually a political issue’. We suggest that the increasing focus on sex and sexiness is not so much a matter of personal preference but pressures coming from people and institutions in society with power to shape the way others think and feel.”
Nonsense. Although there are different schools of feminism, all of them (except for specifically pro-life feminists) require access to birth control and abortion in order to free women for all options. To fail to connect the dots between eliminating the moral constraints concerning "reproductive freedom" and the uber sexualisation of girls is disingenuous. It sounds like Ms McLellan would like to stand on the high ground of advancing the cause of women (and respect for their brains) while thinking it can be compartmentalised from the effects that sexual autonomy had on the ensuing generation -- wholly unrealistic.
All in all, though, it looks like an excellent book.