So, the first thing that upset me was this article on mountaintop removal. I remember my sister, the hardcore Republican whose favorite channel is Fox News and great idol is Bill O'Reilly, telling me a few years about some tv show she'd seen on mountaintop removal, how horrible it was, how she wept as she watched it.... But did it make any difference at all in the way she shopped, consumed energy, thought about politics, or voted? Not a whit. She just thought it was too, too bad that these lovely mountains she'd never see were being destroyed. But she'd never see them, so why should SHE sacrifice or change anything about her life to save them?
Then there was this story about people facing economic hardship abandoning their pets. It struck me in part because I'd recently written something about the Mormon practice of stockpiling a two-year supply of, ideally, everything you need for two years: food, water, clothing, toilet paper, dog food. Yes, dog food: because, as I wrote, "You can't neglect to feed your dog just because Armageddon comes along." Hard times aren't Armageddon, but people are still throwing their cats out on the side of the road, tossing puppies down garbage chutes. I guess if people really don't have the money to feed their pets or get them veterinary care, they really don't have the money, but until it's truly a matter of feeding the dog or feeding the kid, couldn't they forgo some other luxury and honor the commitment they made in adopting the animal in the first place?
Finally, there was this piece from Salon called Little Girls Gone Wild, featuring an interview with M. Gigi Durham about her new book, The Lolita Effect: The Media Sexualization of Young Girls and What We Can Do About It.
You have to have a subscription to read Salon, so you might not be able to see the article. But there's some pretty good stuff in it, for instance, this:
Salon: What are some of the distortions that girls learn from magazines and advertising about what girls' sexuality is all about?
MGD: If you've got it, flaunt it. Sex is only about baring the body, and exhibiting the body, and especially girls' bodies. That's a very narrow definition of what sexuality is. At the same time, you can't express yourself, you can't enjoy your body, you can't feel like your body is sexual unless you've got this perfect, sex goddess anatomy, which is something like a Barbie body. That's ridiculous, too. It makes girls end up hating their bodies, and not enjoying their own sensuality and sexuality. That's a real problem.
Then, there's this insistence that younger and younger girls are sexual. There's this huge emphasis on linking youth with sexuality. People mature sexually throughout their lives, and there is a lot of scientific evidence that women who are past menopause really enjoy sex. Children who are 12, 13 years old are not in a position to understand or cope with their sexuality very well. Linking sex to youthfulness is really dangerous.
Girls are always supposed to be changing their bodies and dressing up in order to attract male attention. There is not much emphasis on girls enjoying their own bodies, or even any reciprocity where boys might be thinking about what they could do to please girls. It's not very mutual.
So read all that if you want to feel worse too.... Or maybe I feel better, because at least someone is confronting the problem, getting the word out there. I don't know. MGD also advocates talking to children--even two-year-olds--about what marketing is and how it works, as in this:
I've done it. If they're watching a commercial on TV, and there is a toy, you can just start talking to them: "Do you think that toy is as good when you bring it home as it is on TV? Do you know why they make it look so fun, and like these kids are having so much fun? Because they really want you to spend money on it."