17 July 2009

Sexuality, the Media, and Children

Before I get into the topic named in the title, I would like to point out that Jim and I have now posted over 100 times to our blog. And, if I get my 101 things accomplished, it will not take much longer to get the next 100.

Here is the question on which I had to submit a writing assignment this week. "In March 2007, the AP initiated a self-imposed week-long ban on reporting anything about Paris Hilton (CNN.com, 2007). Was that a reasonable thing to do? A month earlier, Newsweek's cover story was "Girls Gone Wild: What are celebs teaching our kids?" Find the story and discuss it. Why are Paris Hilton and Britney Spears celebrities and should they be? The following is my response:

First of all, I think that a weeklong ban on reporting anything Paris Hilton was a joke. Maybe, if it had been a little longer of a ban and on all things celebrity gossip, we could have actually seen a difference, but a week, on Paris Hilton only? Please. You were just scratching the surface of an enormous glacier. And I say glacier because I’m not sure we really even realize the enormity of what we have gotten ourselves into with tabloids and the business of celebrity watchdogs, reporting on their every move and mistake. The article by Deveny and Kelley was fascinating, well balanced, and well written, in my opinion. There are a few things that stick out to me.

“Like never before, our kids are being bombarded by images of oversexed, underdressed celebrities who …” (3rd paragraph). This is a completely true and defining statement of the world we live in today. You can’t check out at the grocery store without seeing at least 12 different pictures of celebrities and couples who are cheating on one another, supposedly, getting Botox here and implants there, getting pregnant, or dying of some drug problem that rehab just doesn’t seem to be helping with. It’s not surprising to me that the San Diego teacher hears her seven year-old students using words like “sexy” and flirting, a generation of “prostitots?” One thing is true for me: I’m almost terrified to have kids, knowing what I’m up against, and raise them in what my husband and I deem the right way. It’s going to be a hard job, but I think I am up for it. I’m one of the (future) parents wondering about the effect our “racy culture may have on their kids and the women they would like their girls to become.” But, just as I have posted in my response to the study questions for this week, I think the major solution must come from parents. Values should be taught in the home. I feel very strongly for the solution that calls for greater sensitivity of parents to the influence of the media on young people. I personally believe that it should not be left to the schools or churches to educate our children about sexuality, violence, etc. Schools and churches have so much red tape that they have to try to maneuver to even teach their subjects, it is putting ridiculous expectations on them to try and be the parent, too.

I’m up for the task of raising children in the world we live in because I know it can be done well, especially with young girls, which the article focused on. (Boys are another issue- I feel they should be raised in a way that teaches them to respect women and not look at them as objects to be used.) The article stated that “it is a great time to be a girl,” because there are other things that girls can find to define themselves through besides sex and physical attractiveness. The struggle will be to do the right thing from the beginning and just as the article stated “know thy enemy.”

This class, and text book, will be helpful in knowing exactly what the biggest influences are on children and will also be a reason for accountability on my actions, as it has been said that children do watch what their parents do, even though they would never admit it. Despite all of the statistics on how awful our media, I believe parents can be the counterbalance to the negative impact our media has. The producers produce it because the people buy it, and parents can begin by learning to say “No” to purchasing the Bratz dolls or trashy magazines to have laying around the house and be the change they want to see.

Paris Hilton and Britney Spears are celebrities because they are famous and well known, good, bad, or ugly. And because people wanted to know more, the media had to get more to tell them. Do I think they should be celebrities? No, but I only have control of who I make a celebrity in my life, and they aren’t it. All I can do is teach my children the values that I think are important, and educate them about what’s going on in the world. And each day I pray that I have the wisdom to do that.

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