Discourse on the intersections of politics, feminism, and motherhood.

Tuesday, August 8

Parental Responsibility?

Just when you thought Joe Francis, the cre-a-tor of "Girls Gone Wild", could not perpetuate the over exposure of exploitative coersive female sexuality any stronger, an article in the LA Times makes me as a mom want to puke! The public is very aware of the explicit content on these soft porn videos that gross approximately 4 billion a year in sales, and Francis has been arrested, sued, indicted, and cleared of the majority of charges which cover racketeering, drug trafficing, and promoting the sexual performance of a child. While I consider myself a pro-pornography or anti-censorship feminist I question whether or not insinuations, such as the quote below, that suggest the performers/women/girls are empowered by such acts?

I call Vicki Mayer, a sociologist and Tulane University assistant professor, for guidance. Mayer teaches a class on the nudity rituals that take place on New Orleans' infamous Bourbon Street. She has studied and written about "Girls Gone Wild," and she contends that it's simplistic to say that Mantra takes advantage of women. "For some women this is liberating, for some women this is something they do on a goof or for a lark to show friends they can, for some it's a way of flirting with the cameramen," Mayer says.

Where in this senario is the free booze and drugs calculated into the equation? Joe Francis and his team set up 'parties' as they are called and club promoters pay 10,000 dollars a night to have his team set up shop in their clubs. Girls drink for free and are usually very young around 18 to 25 years of age. If a girl is at a party and is sexually assaulted we contend that she is not capable of giving proper consent, so how does a team of young men go around a party where heavy drinking is in play and get girls to sign concent forms? How is this situation different from a young college student going to a party with a guy she likes, drinks, gets physically involved with, but only intends on a few things and ends up having sexual intercourse when she didn't want to?

Francis argues 1st Ammendment rights and that he just loves women, but seems to me to just have a misogynistic shroud of righteousness. It reminds me of the artist Tom Wesselman who painted faceless naked women during the sexual revolution of the 60's and felt that his images were a reflection of the sexual revolution empowering women when we all know the so called sexual revolution was really more about male access. Feminists fought for birth control, female sexual autonomy, and the freedom of to choose, but the culture still ascribed the same roles. Men do the looking and women are the ones being looked at; Gaze Theory. Which points us right back to "Girls Gone Wild."

"My favorite is explaining to dumb chicks why the qwerty keyboard is called a qwerty keyboard, and why the letters aren't in order," he tells me. "They're, like, 18 years old, and they're, like, 'Wait a minute, there were typewriters?' And you got to start there."

Where is our culture's age of womanhood? When did an 18 year old girl become a full fledged woman with complete adult autonomy? 18 to around 22 is a transition for most kids, hence why they are in college, or at least most of them. This age is where they live with a sense of independence away from home and are faced with the firsts of many adult responsibilites. Joe Francis is one media entity that takes advantage. It also brings into question female responsibility and parental responsibility. This reminds me of an episode of the Dr. Phil show. Dr. Phil had his son go down to Padre Island and film spring break. The three girls that drank, did drugs, and participated in exploitative sexual acts on camera were on the show and in deep regret. These teens even felt violated, manipulated, and vunerable. Dr. Phil questioned their actions, their parent's actions, but continued to show video clips of large groups of boys chanting and participating in the girl's exhibitionism. Not one male was questioned for his role in these behaviors. The conclusion was the parents should refrain from sending their daughters on spring break and that the girls should not have participated in substance abuse that put them in that particular situation in the first place. Male sexuality was never questions, only the girl's self esteem.

My role as a parent is to protect my kids, so no I would not let my daughter (if I had one) go on spring break, but I would also not let my son go either. I refuse as a parent to raise a son who believes that his masculinity must conform to these standards in order for him to be authentic.

As the argument proceeds; it is too simplistic to say all the females exposing themselves and participating in sexual acts on camera are victims and being exploitated. Isn't it too simplistic to assume that this is an empowering act for femininity as well? The cultural forces that drive such things are so entrenched in how we view female and male sexuality. It's great that we are teaching girls to have physical autonomy and respect their bodies, but when are boys going to be taught differently and how can such ideologies be persuasive when cultural forces like MTV and Paris Hilton are contradicting those messages?


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