Something has been gnawing away at me. A few weeks ago I was in class talking about sex with my students; don’t worry – I won’t end up in The Daily Mail – It was relevant. The students were asked to come up with questions they had about sex and one boy asked ‘why do girls complain when they get raped if they have been wearing short skirts or low tops?’ I nearly fell over. It was quickly followed by a comment from another student ‘ They enjoy it though, so it isn’t really rape.’
Now it would be so easy to blame his parents, blame the school, blame the kid for these kind of comments and wonder what the hell he is being told about women and sex but come on, we need to be looking a bit further afield as to why these kind of comments are coming thick and fast (because sadly, they are.) Why are kids so warped about sex? The thing that got me the most though were the nods coming from the girls.I was expecting them to be up in arms, on the tables shouting that women have the right to wear what they like, when they like but no, the majority were nodding along in agreement. Two things have been getting me angry since; the image of sex that kids are growing up with and the view that, to them, women are somehow to blame for sexual violence.
Music videos, films, magazines, everywhere you look in fact, is shoving sex at us. Not the real, kind of awkward, fumbling around, socks on, laughing at inappropriate moments, messy, alright sometimes kind of boring sex that most of us are probably having but glossy, sexy sex: Women screaming with desire the second a man looks at her or kisses her neck and orgasms happening after about 5 seconds (um, no? and please – missionary? Most sex scenes show the family friendly man on top kind of sex which doesnt really do that much for women tbh. Where is the clitoral stimulation? The build up? The time is takes to be properly turned on so that sex is pleasurable and not a friction based burning hell? Being squashed and sweated on isnt really my idea of sexual bliss but missionary seems to be the only position the media turn to. ) This kind of sex is what sticks with kids – the boys are left with the idea that all women are up for it all the time and that pleasing them is as easy as pie and the girls are left with, well what? The promise of bad sex to come? The idea that they should be sexual accessories, ‘on’ all the time and ready to go as soon as their man comes through the door? That they are weird or wrong if they don’t get as much pleasure as the women on tv get? It scares me half to death to be honest and makes me kind of sad that both sides might be left with a bad taste in their mouths when it comes to sex with these kind of examples being set.
When we look at music videos, girls are used as props even if they are the bloody lead singers. The clothes get smaller the more successful an artist becomes and dancing around in a provocative manner seems to be more important than the songs themselves. Music reviews are littered with personal comments about the fuckability of the singers and getting a grainy bikini shot from a questionable distance is a higher scoop than an interview about talent and influences. Male rappers have an enormous posse of half naked girls in their videos and on stage who stroke and purr and throw their goodies around in time to the beat and even ‘fierce’ singers like Ciara and Rihanna seem to correlate being independent and sexy with being half naked and gyrating on the floor/hood of a car/wierd zebra thing. It sends this message to young girls that our worth is based on our looks and how fucked up is that? If men don’t want to whack one out over you, you’re what? A failure? Great.
So with all this going on; the weird messed up sexual images and the fact that girls are disposable and worthless if not covered in baby oil and a g string, is it any wonder that boys and girls in the classroom are kinda messed up about sex?
I am never ever going to excuse those kind of views expressed but we need to be questioning where they’re coming from. I think that I should be able to walk down the street in my underwear if I want to and while we are on it, the view that women are ‘asking for it’ if they wear revealing clothes is not only damaging to women but also pretty insulting to men. It says men can’t control themselves around a bit of cleavage and that we need to be covered up at all times so not to confuse them into thinking we are up for a bit of rough. That doesn’t pain a great picture of male self control. Worse though, it turns the blame onto the women in the scenario and that is ridiculous.
Part of me thinks that we are never going to stop crazy messed up views of sex and relationships until we stop the peddling of faux-sex at every opportunity. Why not stop relying on bikinis to sell songs, stop showing sex in lying lights and start encouraging kids to question what they see around them. Fair enough – I nearly had a heart attack in that lesson but at least we got to discuss some of the issues that lead to those messed up views of the expectations placed on women and the objectification of ladies in the media.