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Posts Tagged ‘girls’

1-499x387[via sociological images]

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I must admit that I have participated in the whole slutty Halloween costume phenomenon on a few occasions – I mean modesty just doesn’t work at the West Hollywood Halloween extravaganza. But, this costume, which was recently brought to my attention, is totally unacceptable and horrifying. The costume is called “Anna-Rexia,” and consists of a woman dressing up as a slutty anorexic (see picture below). I don’t even know where to begin. I realize that Halloween is a time when political correctness is not a priority, but an anorexic costume is neither funny nor cute. Anorexia is a serious disorder that afflicts thousands of young girls. This costume, at best, trivializes a terrible disease, and at worst, suggests to young girls that anorexia is something that they should or can strive for. Moreover, think about the type of reaction this costume would elicit in a recovering anorexic who sees someone wearing it on the street. The creators of this costume should be ashamed of themselves, and I hope that there aren’t any women out there who are disrespectful enough to buy it. 

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gossip-girl20In not-so-shocking news, the senior girls at a high school in Millburn, NJ apparently, for years, have created a “slut-list,” where they list the names of “pretty and popular incoming freshman with crass descriptions on loose-leaf paper.” These girls are then subjected to what the NY Times is calling “hazing.” I tend to agree more with the writers over at The Frisky who say it sounds much more like bullying than mere hazing. The pattern of mean-ness among high school girls is not so surprising anymore after the barrage of books about this phenomenon and the movie “Mean Girls.” What’s shocking to me is that the principal at the high school has apparently known about this tradition for years and the school is only addressing it in a big way now. It’s time that we start paying more attention to teenage girls and giving them the support they need to cooperate rather than compete with each other. I must admit that I love the movie “Mean Girls” and shows like “Gossip Girl,” but we should be teaching young girls that these movies and TV shows are entertainment and satire, not models of behavior that they should be emulating or striving for.

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VeryYoungGirlsPosterLast night I watched the movie “Very Young Girls,” which aired on Showtime last year. This documentary (which you can watch on your computer on Netflix instant) details the lives of teenage girls who are coerced in prostitution in NYC.  The documentary focuses on the organization GEMS, which provides safe housing and counseling for many of these girls. The documentary is incredibly sad, powerful, and informative, and it demonstrates exactly why these girls need to be rehabilitated instead of incarcerated.  Until the recent passage of the New York Safe Harbor Act, teenage girls who were arrested for prostitution were treated as adults and faced imprisonment. This is despite the fact that girls under the age of 16 cannot legally consent to sex in the state of New York. The Safe Harbor Act creates a presumption that girls who are arrested for prostitution should be treated as the victims of coercion and sent to safe houses and rehabilitation facilities. What is especially sad about this documentary, however, is that despite the help that many of the girls receive, they often return to a life on the streets, not able to resist the coercive power of their pimps.  We spend a lot of time worrying about trafficked and exploited women in other countries, but this documentary really drives home the point that we need not look farther than a few blocks to find women desperately in need of help right here in the US.

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I just finished reading this piece by Nicholas Kristof and his wife Sheryl WuDunn, for this week’s issue of the New York Times Magazine.  Called “The Women’s Crusade,” it discusses why helping women across the globe become financially independent and sufficient will help to solve the world’s problems. Kristof spends a great deal of time discussing the merits of microfinance organizations, which lend small amounts of money to (mainly) women living in poverty in order to help them start their own business and become financially independent. Kristof also discusses how the Obama administration is starting to realize that the well-being of women and girls should be a central issue, not something tangential to other mainstream policies.

The rest of the issue is dedicated to women as well (although admittedly I have not gotten through all of it yet).  I have to commend the NY Times for publishing these articles, but it is certainly not the first time that journalists are writing about microfinance institutions and why we need to help women and girls. I hope this article will help call more attention to the thousands of bloggers, journalists, and researchers who are writing about these issues every day. But for now, this article is a great start.

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