20 April 2006

Tricky business

So, what’s wrong with raunch behaviour? If women want to show off their body, if they want to make out with each other in front of men, why should men object? Don’t men get turned on by scantily-dressed women and their perfect bodies? Don’t men fantasise about women-on-women action? Don’t men desire women who invite them over for sex? Heterosexual men don’t require great intelligence to see and enjoy the benefits of the ‘raunch culture’. It’s a bonus for them.

So, there’s no sympathy for women there. Unless, of course, the man happens to be the parent – or perhaps the brother – of a young woman displaying, or participating in, raunch. Everything changes then. Our cultural and moral values come to the fore. Even liberal-minded and tolerant parents, who normally allow their daughters to choose whom they want to be with, have active superegos; they know when and where to draw the line. They are not keen on seeing their daughters behave raunchily in public, nor permit them to act in amateur porn videos.

So, what should a parent do? Lock up the daughter in her room? Don’t think so. Set down rules of behaviour and discipline the daughter? May backfire. Since raunch has the signs of anti-authority, rebellious behaviour, challenging the daughter on the subject may have a negative effect. To add to the trouble, more and more girls are growing up watching music videos and films with provocative scenes, or reading ‘Page 3’-type material in the media, thinking and believing raunch is an acceptable code of conduct. Managing this is indeed a tricky business for a parent.

So, what’s the solution to this hyper-sexualised, hyper-commercialised situation?

According to Ariel Levy, author of ‘Female Chauvinist Pigs’, and quoted in www.macleans.ca by Judith Timson in a September 2005 article called ‘Girls gone raunch’, it’s “Making the young women in our lives aware that this is the culture they live in, but they don’t have to take part in it, they will still be attractive to men, because people have managed to recreate the species for some time now.” It’s nurturing in them the sense, she says, “that you’re a real person, you’re not here to put on a performance, the main focus of your energy does not have to be how do I get a guy. You will find a partner. But the main project is you. What do you want to be? What do you want to think about? What makes you happy? What turns you on?”

Ultimately it is, Levy says, “…instilling in young women a sense of the value of their humanity.”

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