Girls Pressured to be Raunchy, Dumb and Looks-Obsessed

“Celebrity culture and social networking sites risk spawning a generation of dumb and shallow girls, a leading headmistress warns.”

Those first lines in an article in The Times from last year.

Our headmistress warns that young women are under extreme pressure to shun intellectual interests and conform to images of women that lack depth, are raunchy and are obsessed with their looks.

As a father of a sixteen-year-old girl, I find this entirely disturbing.

The evidence is plain to see. You’ll only have to watch music videos, teenage magazines, adverts, movies and TV to see the highly negative influence on our children. The role models today are stereotypes: hunky men, sexy women. Most of them are celebrities. It doesn’t matter if they’re brain dead as long as they’re drop dead gorgeous!

Such images can change our children’s values

Such misgivings are echoed in Lisa Bloom’s book Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World. The author fears that women are in danger of spiraling into a nation of dumbed down, tabloid media obsessed, reality TV addicts.

It all comes to desire. Women, it seems, need to be wanted. And they believe that it is this skin-deep thing called “looks” that will create a desire for them.

Yet in the book Women and Desire by Polly Young-Eisendrath, the author retells the tale of Sir Gawain and Lady Ragnall (the full story is available here).

In the tale, we discover, is that what a woman truly wants is “sovereignty over herself.” To be able to make her own decisions, to be able to exercise her own free will.

Making your own decisions, is a mental activity.

No looks involved.

This means that the better educated you are (whether achieved in or out of school or university), the more you contemplate, the greater the introspection, will likely lead to you making better decisions.

Thus that sovereignty is exercised well.

But as Polly Young-Eisendrath says “ … personal sovereignty is different from assertiveness, individuality, independence, and getting your own way … [it] means feeling free to choose and to intend your actions. It requires practice and knowledge to make decisions in a way that is responsible, fulfilling, and satisfying.”

That is the key. The correct decisions will lead to a fulfilling and satisfying life. I think, for all of us, men and women, that is what we ultimately want.

9 responses to “Girls Pressured to be Raunchy, Dumb and Looks-Obsessed

  1. Krishna Panikker

    I like the Tale of Gawain and Lady Ragnall.Most of all I agree with the headmistress about celebrity and social networking sites. It is not only disturbing but very frightening when you have girls. Thank God that my two girls are still on the “sane path”.I had to talk and reason many things with my girls as they grew up to be teenagers. It was difficult initially especially when they are mixed kids but they understood me as they grew older(wiser I presume) Tunku

  2. Krishna – That’s good to hear, keeping the girls on the right path. It gets more difficult as time goes by, especially with the internet and smart phones intruding into our lives. We can only hope that our offspring make the correct choices in life.

  3. Girls should know that their appearance or gorgeousness will last until 30, or if they are lucky, 35. And thereafter, their values in lives would have to depend on their knowledge and wisdom which only can be accrued through education and learning , in school or outside.

  4. (sorry, have something to add) Education is important, it nourishes one’s soul, German author Hermann Hesse (1877-1962) writes that the more one matures, the younger one grows. And certainly there are many people who, as they age, become increasingly vigorous and energetic, more broad-minded and tolerant, living with a greater sense of freedom and assurance. It is important to remember that aging and growing old are not necessarily the same thing. If one only “jaga” their appearance and look and not interested in learning, he/she will be “aging” instead of “growing older” after 35. I think have to share this philosophy with the daughters.

  5. Daniel – I agree completely. Appearance is exactly that … appearance. The real human, the real person is within, in the mind and heart. These things are developed through learning and experience. That’s a wonderful quote from Herman Hesse!

  6. Krishna Panikker

    Hi ! Tunku I really wanted to wish you on Hari Raya day but with my two girls back home……….sorry I totally forgot.So here it goes …Selamat Hari Raya Maaf dan Batin and everything blessed and wonderful during this Raya.In the midst of all this please don’t forget your old and loving parents.Give them some of your percious time because they will not be around always.Take care Tunku.

  7. Thank you dear Tunku for such a thought-inducing post. I actually spoke to my beloved mother about how certain women or teens are more obsessed than ever about buying the right brands, wearing the right ‘cool’ clothing and the whole ‘Kim K-addicted’ culture. Mom said that she watches the show for the heck of it, but for me, I can’t stand the sight/sound of it. There’s a shallow element that is so focused on the appearance of women’s independence that it has merely sidestepped the thing that is most important. You mentioned this on your post: sovereignty over themselves. And this usually involves mental activity, which is usually too draining for some regardless of gender/age. The teen-obsessed with her looks should hopefully one day be mindful of her own thoughts and develop a real sense of ‘self’ that can’t be imitated just by buying the ‘right’ shoes.

    • missrev – hey, I like your blog and murakami too. You’re right, this sense of inner self, a centering of the person, which really comes from education (mostly self-education and experience) is what makes a person. Not the clothes and today’s celebrity-mania.

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