Still reading Ariel Levy's Female Chauvinist Pigs, chapter five explores the culture in relation to young people. She talks to a teenage boy who says that "there's a lot to look at if you're a guy, and a lot of pressure to make yourself worth looking at if you are a girl" (p148). We are well aware of peer presure these days, well at least I thought so. It is obvious that our young people, particularly young girls, feel an enormous amount of pressure to look and be a certain way. One example are eating disorders. Eating disorders are not hidden, in fact they appear quite regualry in our media, particulary teenage & women's magazines. A women is expected to be airbrush thin but not suffer from an eating disorder. Our teenage girls are given such mixed messages.
So many young girls today dress provocatively, and we might look upon them with distaste. We may be upset to find out how young teenagers are when they become sexually active, and the raunchy thing they get up to. But when we stop and think about where this starts, it is not with our young people. Levy puts it nicely, (p146) "Adolescents are not inventing this culture of exhibitionism and conformity with their own fledging creative powers. Teens are reflecting back our slobbering culture in miniature." We need to do something about our culture before we can expect to see change in our young people.
Levy's book reveals that teenage girls compete to be the skankiest and act this way to attract guys. "For me it's all attached to the guys... Like I have this weird link between certain guys and my own self-worth" was a comment from one girls Levy spoke to (p 153).
That is not something I want to hear from a teenage girl. It scares me that a girl would measure her worth from how guys valued her, but I guess it scares me because I know it is true. So many young girls place value on themselves according to others opinions. I guess I know because for a long time I struggled with, finding worth in myself aside from others expectations/opinions of me. We should be treating our young girls with respect and showing them how to respect themselves for who they are as people, not as an object of someone else's desire. We need to help them find self worth in themselves and in God.
Sex appeal has become a tool for young girls to become popular and gain acceptance with their peers, both female and male. It is not about valuing sex as something special between two people. It is about physical gratification and expectation. They are focussed on getting attention yet are not necessarily prepared or equipped for the implications.
Levy found that most girls who had sex the first time didn't actually want to, it was "voluntary but unwanted." (p163). She states that girls feel "they need to embody" sex and sexiness to be cool. Now we all should be aware of the overwhelming pressure to be "cool" as a teenager.
Our common answer as Christians has been say no, don't have sex until you are married (which is
something that I value). Levy suggests that we surround teenagers with a "canyland" of sex in magazines, reality TV, advertising and so on, yet we expect them to ignore all that surrounds them and just so no (p157). What environment are we providing for our young people to discuss this and the issues that surround it, can they talk about what thier actually feelings are. Do they feel comfortable to discuss their struggles in the church? Can they talk about sexuality?
Can we as adults talk about it?