It's not like things will change with this (old news, I told you I've been holding on to things for a long time to write about) information, because it never does. Life is so much like Pandora's Box, once it's open there is no way to re-contain what's been released. The sexualized identity has been let out of it's dark corner, for better and for worse. While it is good in so many ways, among them opening lines of communication and at least some of the time allowing misinformation to be corrected, it has also changed the way society looks a girls. A lot. I have found it hard to browse the clothing racks at stores for girls 5-10yrs old because I know I would have never be allowed to wear things like that and honestly that makes me happy. It feels like growing up has been accelerated but only in regards to sex, not politics, not fiscal management, not study skills.
From 2007 also I saved this link to "special" Barbies. I swear that every time I scrolled and saw the words "Barbie Pivotal Body Cabaret Dancer" I though it said "Private Dancer", yes as in that song. Though the song talks about the men being faceless and having no identity it is still about women selling their bodies. It's about using one's body to get things, money, and hope (the only thing left in Pandora's Box) for a better future.
At the same time this 2007 article (I am certain I could easily find articles from this year if I searched but these are already in my files - I being lazy on day 21 of NaBloPoMo) is scary to me for so many reasons. The idea of using marriage imagery in a commitment ceremony designed to strengthen the relationship between a father and a daughter is creepy. There is no other word for it. That it mimics a nuns "marriage vows" to god is not lost on me. I do question the statement towards the end of the paradoxical effect the purity pledge has on sexual behavior, only because I wonder where the data comes from even though I believe it on a gut level. I do not doubt that many Purity Pearls still participate in sexual behavior, just not vaginal-penile intercourse so they can preserve their virginity. The lack of anything else being "counted" as sex is heterosexist, limiting and delusional. One problem with that is the these girls are not educated on safe sex, which means the sex they likely are having can still lead to life changing repercussions. Another level of scary right there. Some critique is out there which mirrors some of my thoughts when I first read about this - could all this focus on virginity actually sexualizes the very population it purports to protect from sex?
I think it is harder for young women to make good decisions despite the increased openess, despite and maybe because of the ability to find out things on the internet. It is hard to know how and who to be when so many of the examples have been turned into a porn caricature of everything from the nerd, the cheerleader, the good girl, everything has been shown with a flip side that is all about letting loose, being the vixen underneath it all. While I love all that for me, as an adult, as someone who has explored the nuanced meanings of being lots of things at once, I also remember being a teen who was playing at those things and not knowing what it all meant; and I was lucky that worse things did not happen to be because I was playing with fire - a lot- in those days. I cannot imagine trying to navigate those waters now. I am not saying the world is more dangerous than it was, I am saying the images are stronger and the pressure is different.