Go ahead. Take my arm fool! And oh by the way, I ain’t your “baby.”
That’s right. Get cracking. I’m not talking about patty-cake.
First, I’m talking to YOU pop-culture media moguls.
If popular culture spent more of its capital helping girls view their bodies as allies (not enemies) and as instruments of power, and less focus on their young bodies as ‘eye candy’ or for the scoring of flattery, girls would suffer far LESS body angst and be far MORE prepared for self defending without self consciousness.
THE INSIDIOUS DECEPTION: Receiving flattery and body-focused attention in pop culture is pretty much always positive and desirable, but in reality of course its also potentially a telltale sign of inappropriate or predatory behavior or opportunistic intent. It greases the machinery.
THE REALITY: The tweener age (and young teen-age) is when girls are most vulnerable. This border town between girlhood and young womanhood is a turbulent time, fraught with come-hither pulls and peer-pressure pushes that all too easily take girls away from their SELF center, taking them off their spunkier girlhood base of power.
Border towns can be like jungles– chaotic and exotic, bursting with lookee here, lookee there stimulus, replete with shiny lures, intoxicants of all kinds and tempting grown-up attractions. Tweener-ville (located on every map) is a time and place where pumped dates often want to “score,” where predators prowl and hunt for prey, and where peddlers hawk shiny wares– often as pretext. Even in upscale tweener-villes, predators and opportunists of all ages would like nothing more than to take advantage: to shower your girl /your daughter with attention using flattery as bait, as a means to lower her guard, gain proximity and worm their way inside her skin– her bubble so to speak–and to gain entry into her personal intimate space. And maybe her attire.
This phishing and worming doesn’t just happen online, it also happens on the ground.
Did you know: the highest reported rape rates are of girls between the ages of 12 – 18?
I’m not saying that popular culture is evil or should shoulder all the blame. That would not be fair or accurate. We all have responsibility – whether we’re parents or not – to help girls navigate the wilds of young womanhood and to provide guidance, mentorship and support.
The cure: Teach and reward girls for being self possessed. To help girls stay balanced amidst the turbulent waters of budding womanhood, we need to encourage and drill self respect and self possession, replete with healthy self-centeredness and body ownership. It’s incumbent upon us to help girls nurture and sustain a positive connection to their bodies as sources of strength and power and to hold their own passionate life force.
We also need to empower girls with THE LANGUAGE OF BOUNDARIES – and the physical, spatial and body-based knowledge to set and defend their boundaries.
You probably know what else I’m thinking: Breakaway and emergency self defense methods.
More and more girls today ARE doin’ it for themselves — that’s the good news. But to help make the tipping point happen, we ALL need to get on board and get cracking!
(Illustrations by Miriam Anzovin. No copy. All rights reserved.)