Cognitive Dissonance.

So I’m sitting in my hundred-dollar ergonomic hydraulic-enabled swivel chair, watching kids work and glancing out at the North Shore mountains. The sun is shining and I desperately want to walk out of here and go to the beach. It’s, what? Four blocks away? I totally could.

My reverie is interrupted by a student who has a grammar question. As I answer, I notice she has sparkly earrings on. Upon closer inspection, I discover those earrings are little silver Playboy bunnies, with rhinestones attached.

How strange. This little girl is still a couple of years shy of puberty, and here, she’s sporting little symbols of the sexual objectification of women in her ears. It can’t even be ironic, because this little girl doesn’t have an irony meter yet.

She’s too young to have gotten pierced ears without her mom’s say-so. Mom probably bought the earrings as well. What would she say if she understood that her daughter was wearing little symbols that mean “Women are a commodity to be objectified, used up, and thrown out once they no longer photograph well in the buff”?  I think about the fact that the girl’s ears are pierced. Metal rods have been pushed through holes in her ears, and scar tissue has healed up around them, all for the purpose of looking attractive. And then this little girl, who isn’t even interested in boys yet, has taken the Playboy bunny and shoved his metal pole through her little earlobes.

And even if I wanted, I couldn’t explain it to her. Because when I asked her about her earrings, she grinned and asked, “Aren’t they cute?”


2 Comments to “Cognitive Dissonance.”

  1. By gen, July 14, 2006 @ 10:07 am

    I struggle with my feelings about girls’ fashion all the time. It is difficult sometimes to watch the girls at school (and on the street) wearing clothes and slogans that are suggestive; wondering how aware they are of what they have chosen to have emblazoned on their bodies. In many cases when I have done a casual poll, the responses I have received from the girls in my classes are that “the clothes are cute”, and that “they want to be fashionable.” Fashion which has been determined by all facets of the media, clothing companies and music execs. There is no doubt, flipping through teen magazines that the overall theme of fashion for pre-teen and teens is sex. (I realise that this is also the same for women’s magazines unless you are over 35 and then I think you are supposed to go into your house and never come out.) The overt sexualisation of girls in the media is hard for me to watch passively, especially since any honest or real sexual expression by girls is usually still vilified by the media and the public.

    At the same time, I remember how important it was for me to experiment with my clothes and body when I was a teenager. I wouldn’t want to take that away from anyone. What I have observed is that usually by the age of fourteen, the girls (and boys) are beginning to experiment with clothes, hair and styles that are expressions of their identity and/or place within society. As opposed to being a homogenous group, they begin to stratify themselves along lines of shared identities. They begin to break themselves and others into categories of Goth, Emo, Ballers (boys who like to play basketball) ... nothing new here most of us played with these same or similar categories, putting them on and taking them off as the mood hit. Though I think that really there is always a little of bit left behind that has bled into the body, imprinting it on our thoughts, movements and actions.

    Of course, it does seem that sexuality and prepubesence are now intertwined. Interesting considering that girls who have not reached puberty are not yet physically and physiologically ready for sex.

    Is this because female sexuality is still seen as threatening? Or is it a way to ‘train’ girls into what is considered appropriate sexuality?

    I have no idea.

  2. By Liz, July 14, 2006 @ 8:33 pm

    If you are over 35, you are supposed to go into your house and never come out, provided you opt out of plastic surgery or Botox. Then, it’s ok to be seen outside until such time as you can’t hide the effects of age any more.

    I posit that female sexuality is seen as extremely threatening. Not really sure why, though. I also think there may be an element of ‘training’ girls for appropriate sexuality.

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