Sunday, December 14, 2008

Let's bring smart back

Think it's no big deal that nymphettes rule the airwaves and that media images of women as little more than sex objects are ubiquitous?

A couple weeks ago, NPR ran a story out of Italy that perfectly captures the dangers we face as a
 society for turning a blind eye to the negative portrayals of women and young girls in the media: "In Italy, Feminism Out, Women As Sex Symbols In."

This bothered me as a woman before. Now it also bothers me as the mom of an impressionable girl.  According to the article:
Both on public television and on networks owned by Berlusconi, who also is a media tycoon, scantily dressed women can been seen — but rarely heard — on all types of programs, from quizzes to political talk shows. Opinion polls indicate that the showgirl is the No. 1 role model for young Italian women...
Yuck. Amazing that in the same year we saw a woman vying for President of the United States, an outgoing  female Secretary of State (our second) and smart, accomplished women all over the business, government and non-profit worlds, the women getting  ink and exposure are the ones who are most over exposed (hi Paris and Brit!).

I can only worry about the things I have control over. So Ava's not watching any videos featuring scantily-clad rump shakers (sorry Beyonce, even you) and the media images we have lying around the house include the latest issues of Oprah's magazine, Newsweek and these magazines:
J. says that all my back issues of magazines in various stages of being read make our house a fire trap. I say they're helping to broaden our daughter's mind and make sure she's accustomed to seeing a variety of positive images of both men and women who aren't half naked and from whom people are actually interested in hearing substantive conversation. 

Ava and her buddy R. have a playdate/book club 
and start consuming the first few media images in their lifetimes

When she's ready for near-frontal nudity, I'll take her to an Abercrombie and Fitch store to look at window displays. Until then, I'll make sure she understands that she's got more to offer the world than her admittedly cute countenance. As I read somewhere: you can get by on cute for about 15 minutes. After that, you'd better know something.


  1. My individual meetings in Italy were about women's rights and one visit was to a women's shelter. It was for all women dealing with gender-based violence. It's still not seen as a big deal. And only 50% of women of working age have jobs and women from Eastern Europe are going there to fill the void.

    Hmmmm. Connection much?

  2. Wow. That is interesting. I have a friend from Guatemala who said job ads there will still say things like: "Wanted: young, attractive, single woman for secretarial position." Frightening.

  3. Excellent post - the question is do we value substance or appearance?

  4. I think we say we value substance, but why don't we see paparazzi staking out the homes of our top thinkers and public servants the way they do Brangelina, et al?