I heard a segment on NPR called Teen Girls and Social Media: A story of Secret Lives and Misogyny, about some very disturbing activities that young girls are engaging in on social media in an attempt to gain attention and fit in. If you didn’t hear it, I would highly recommend clicking on the link, especially if you are raising a young daughter or son. If you think they aren’t being impacted by this new trend, I would encourage you to take the extra steps to find out. As parents, we have the right to know about and intervene in activities that may be jeopardizing our children’s safety and well-being.
I am somewhat fascinated lately to hear young women’s take on feminism and how they believe they are no longer faced with the same struggles as the females in my generation. When I was young, sexual harassment was a part of life that we were taught to live with. Even though our society supposedly now denounces these activities, I am not so sure it hasn’t come back with a vengeance, albeit packaged differently now.
It seems like the more powerful women become in our society, the more backlash there is to attempt to undermine that power. The message that women are now free to express rather suppress their sexuality can be a positive thing, yet now more than ever, there is a tremendous backlash that is fooling our girls into believing certain types of misogyny are okay.
The types of misogyny that are being encouraged by the thousands of over-sexualized portrayals of women our young girls are exposed to each day can have a cumulative effect on their psyche. Having to deal with too much too early can ultimately lead to feelings of insecurity, self-loathing, and low self-esteem in our young women. These feelings can follow them into adulthood and undermine their attempts to be taken seriously.
As I contemplate the world my 2-year-old granddaughter is being raised in, I am both excited at the prospect of so many more opportunities she will have and fearful of this new brand of hyper-sexuality that threatens to stand in the way of everything women have worked so hard to achieve.
I would like to see more focus on the women who are achieving positions of power through their accomplishments in science, public service, athletics, and academia, and less focus on the one-dimensional hyper-sexualized version of women that we are subjected to each day.