Spark a Movement
I went to my bff's house to learn about an issue that she has always been riled up about, the sexualization of girls in the media. She is involved in an organization that is actually helping change that. It is called Spark Summit with the tagline Spark a Movement.
Just like our eating habits changed in the 70's when we got really good at making delicious high calorie fake food the sexualization of girls and women has changed too. If you take a look at old magazines such as Seventeen in the 70's, you do not see photoraphs geared towards sexuality like we do today.
What separates this organization is that it was built because of findings through research. For instance, those sexy ads that supposedly make women feel good about themselves actually make women bad about their own bodies.
Awhile ago there was a big controversary around Legos creating pink toys that were submissive and directly geared towards young girls. Spark got involved and found themselves talking with the top people at Lego about why they should not be creating legos that are gender based for the princess in them. They listened. There was recently a controvery surrounding Seventeen magazine where a young woman complained about the photoshopping of every girls in Seventeen magazine. Once again, Spark got involved and that woman spoke directly to Seventeen. BTW, there have been articles written about how Seventeen undermines young women for years.
Here is the mission: SPARK is a girl-fueled activist movement to demand an end to the sexualization of women and girls in media. We're collaborating with hundreds of girls 13-22 and more than 60 national organizations to reject the commodified, sexualized images of girls in media and support the development of girls' healthy sexuality and self-esteem.
This is no doubt that this is an issue that ties back directly into posts I have written about women needing to be more confident in pitching their businesses and not making sure that every single T is crossed and every single I is dotted before they move forward. Take control of your desinty. Here it is about women taking control of the media. This group has decided to be the champions of something that we all know exist.
Glad to see someone is finally saying that ads like the one above is just not ok or more little girls are going to be believe that at 4 being sexy is the only way they are going to move forward in life or get attention.
I am in Las Vegas right now and this is certainly timely for me.
i don’t know how women can expect a fair shake in the boardroom if they grow up in a society that so readily accepts their portrayal in the media as mindless and (so often) shirtless.
I get the sexualization stuff and agree 100%, but I can’t say I understand the problem with pink legos. I love the color pink, so does my daughter, and so does my son; Ruby’s room is grey, and Dewey’s room is pink in fact, though that’s mainly because we never repainted them. Pink is just a color, and princesses are just people.We’ve got the green box of legos, and the pink box of legos, and play with them both interchangeably.I’ll check out Spark and see what I’m missing, but that’s my naive perspective.
the pink were very gender specific to play with like barbie.
problem with princesses is that they’re perfect, privileged, don’t get dirty yada yada you see where I’m going with this…I can’t say my daughters don’t have any pink or princesses or similar – but we do like to balance it … dump truck toy , changing the oil with dad, hammering the hell out of scrap wood, sci-fi with strong female chars and so on.
I believe there may be a rational biological basis for this colour bias.I hope this is an appropriate comment for this forum (if not please swiftly delete / mark as inappropriate – I will not take offense).The blushing response is more pronouced in females (this is true in all known cultures and is not cultural, it is also related to sexual stimulation). Female genitalia in particular, but also skin generally, lips and nipples when engorged take on pink hues – this also occurs during arousal, pregnancy and stages of the menstrual cycle – it is believed that this may have evolved as a “biological promise” to encourage faithful male behaviour.By contrast males tend to a blueish hue, especially when exposed. So for example male lips are narrower with less blood flow when outdoors and particularly when cold.Females are more comfortable in slightly warmer environments (possibly conditioning through generations in the kitchen / indoors while men were in the fields – I don’t know and it does not matter) – it is a fact of building service engineering (my field).So, if heterosexuality is the biological norm (no judgement just statistics), it is normal for males to find pink and red attractive and women to find blue and purple attractive.This being the case – I think there is nothing wrong with girls *choosing* to dress up as princesses or boys *choosing* to play with blue toy trains.I think the problems arise when we try to manipulate the child – by dressing them up, pushing them with media, showing them adult themes to emulate and allowing commerce to exploit the inherent desire to grow up and thus to succeed.In many cultures (Afrca, Asia) to live long enough to procreate is a challenge – children must learn fast and hard. But when the “west” puts surrogate challenges in front of our children we also manipulate them in the most perverse ways. And this perversion predictably attracts perverted members of adult society. I have no respect for the paedophile, unless he is struggling to control his desires (perverted as they are). However, society is undermined by early sexualisation of children because it challenges good intents and efforts to avoid wrongdoing – this creates three classes of victim (parent, abused and abuser). Whether you see the abuser as a victim of abuse is for many a mute point, but insofar as their action is triggered predictably by the promotion of jeuvenile child sexualization, the abuser category must include, all those sections of the media, commerce, fashion and social commentators that promote, allow or exploit these activities.
Well, would you like your son to constantly be prompted to be a prince? What do princes DO? Just trying to help you relate. If you’re really interested you should go back and read “Sex, Lies and Advertising” by Gloria Steinem. Still relevant after all these years, sadly.
I guess that was my point. It isn’t about colors, it’s about the message and providing strong role models, and I think sometimes the mission gets caught up on the wrong issues.I don’t see a problem with gender-“specific” toys per se (and again, I never read the Lego hubbub – if it was crowns and vacuum cleaners, I don’t like it, but all pink and purple blocks are great). I do, however, have a problem with arcane archetypes and overt sexualization.Thanks for your response!
Good question. Absolutely would not want my son to be prompted for princedom
The problem with this is not only are girls made to feel badly about themselves, but also men are taught to see women as only sexual objects. A lot of the frat-tastic startups have this attitude. And I get to experience it first hand. It’s a really hard thing to combat.Women have to be more assertive than men in the workplace to gain respect and as Sheryl Sandberg often talks about, this quality and like-ability are negatively correlated for a woman.ps. I see we’ve moved to upvoting instead of liking. I’m not a fan. It feels less personal to me. :-/
Someone said to me today that as a kid those magazines that portrayed skinny perfect women made her feel bad about herselfThe good news is we are talking about it
Yes, the fact that we are talking about it is great news.
Was having a frank discussion yesterday about women in engineering with a male business colleague as we went to meet a female, Head of Dev. Strategy for a German Gas Company. We agreed there was a time in engineering where the very few women were the real “tomboys”, and tough because they had to be.We also noticed that the “greening of technology” and the fact that geek has become cool was helping.We thought there was a phase when “women” (to generalize were one cannot) reasonably felt rejected by technology and so “retorted” by rejecting technologists! this creates a divide and thus a strictly male domain was born – the Nerd or ueber uncool geek as was in the last 20 years of the last century.So now I go to a meeting with an engineering or oil company, and increasingly I meet smart women, dressed for business (attractive but not alluring), making smart decisions in traditional male domains. I admit to a prick of my conscience which says – “Wow they had to be better than me to get to my level” -Happily male preserves are crumbling – and no I don’t really want to see little boys wearing princess dresses but see and love the film Billy Elliot and you can understand that there are also places where it takes a real man to play a traditionally sensitive role.
What’s also great about spark as you point out is that they are wielding their power as consumers–not just being passive wallets emptying into company coffers.
Best of luck with this initiative. It’s needed.I don’t understand it when I sometimes see 10-12 yr old girls with make-up or nail polish. That’s too early and it’s influenced by these over sexualization practices (and parents that can’t do anything about it).
speaking of legos – just the other day my wife showed me an old lego ad just like this – http://file.vintageadbrowse…Sickening how sexualized things have become.
I know! – its practically an ad for a young “maker”. If we want making things to be cool again… well, it ain’t gonna happen with princesses and whatever the hell that Diesel ad is trying to say. /rant
Hehe – Could be my kid sister – Her school teacher at eight said “Would you like to be a nurse when you grow up? ” .Her response – Mum says I can be a doctor if I want !The teacher reported her “arrogance” to my parents -Dr Margaret Babb, is now a consultant who saves lives for a living and raises a family of five children with Tim !She wanted the best of both worlds, and she doesn’t understand – “You can’t”!Women can also be tough in business (I am so proud of my elder sister too), they can be tomboys or princesses, racing drivers, and astronauts or actresses. Most extra-ordinary : they make great mothers! They can do this because they are born to, and as the Royal Air Force motto says, “per ardua as astra””Through adversity to the stars”It would be rather cool if society and industry could settle on treating women as citizens, who may be as *They* choose and not how their parents dress them.
Thank you for sharing this! So much of our economy is based upon making women feel bad about themselves (cosmetics is something like a $20 billion a year biz). That’s gonna be a hard habit for those businesses to break.Not only does it make women feel bad about themselves, it drives them to think *only* about being perfect instead of fulfilling their true potential, seeking happiness and living life. It’s truly sinister.I have a three year old daughter, and I am astonished at (i) how much objectification and gender role bias is already being pushed on her, and (ii) how much I have to stop myself from gender-slotting her, myself (it’s really been beaten into me). Well-meaning grandparents give girls beauty kits and boys blocks. Sigh.Sadly, like so many other things, we’ve devolved in this area.I’m going to sign on to Spark right now 🙂
I personally don’t see anything wrong with the pink legos. While I see everyone’s issues with princesses (don’t do anything, privileged, etc.), the color of the toy doesn’t change what the child is doing with it – building, creating, exploring, learning. If my daughter wants pink legos, I’d buy them for her; same with the traditional colors.However, the rest of this article hit a nail on the head for me. With all this sexualization and photoshop, it’s hard to look at a magazine and not feel a cut to your self image, no matter how confident you are.
on the sexualization and princess topic check out Geena Davis’ work on women in the media http://www.seejane.org and of course Misrepresentation
Important topic. Thank you for posting this. I didn’t know about SPARK, but will now look into them.
Just Tweeted it. Worth it! I love the comment about the group being Research based…Smart.