Healthy Media for Youth

Christine Whelan | Posted on 03/26/10

Durham exposes the phenomenon of "prosti-tots" and "kinderwhores" - little girls sexualized well before they reach puberty

We've all seen it - the tiny t-shirts with sexually suggestive slogans, the four-year-old gyrating to a Britney Spears song, the young boy shooting prostitutes in his video game. Perhaps enough is finally enough?

U.S. Reps. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) have introduced bipartisan legislation that establishes a national taskforce that would develop voluntary guidelines and other measures to promote positive images of girls and women.

The Healthy Media for Youth bill was developed with help from the Girl Scouts of the USA and if passed, will support media literacy programs and promote research on the impact of the media portrayal of women and girls.

In the next few weeks, groups will be heading to DC to stir up support for this bill. (Representatives will be thrilled to take those meetings, I'd imagine, because regardless of the outcome of the bill, they won't get bricks thrown through their window or death threats.)

University of Iowa Professor M. Gigi Durham's book, The Lolita Effect: The Media Sexualization of Young Girls and What We Can Do About It,  makes a strong argument for why media literacy programs and research is necessary: The media are mishandling and distorting girls' sexuality by circulating damaging myths that limit, undermine and restrict girls' sexual progress, she argues. Durham exposes the phenomenon of "prosti-tots" and "kinderwhores" - little girls sexualized well before they reach puberty - and calls readers to action: She offers talking points for parents and tools for educators to empower a generation of young women to preserve their youth.

It's an issue of character formation for young adults-and a bill to keep an eye on.

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