Alison Garwood Jones

Your letters

August 11, 2010


My friend, Emily, always has something thoughtful to say. Here’s what she said about my last blog post, “Female emancipation never looked so bad.”

“I agree that it is a bit depressing to think about the media messages being absorbed by teens today (not to mention that it makes me feel really old!). Of course, we all look back at our teen years with hazy lenses; I don’t doubt or deny that I was exposed to sexualized music, movies, and shows but what was once considered to be “pushing the envelope” is shrugged off by most teens today. However, I have a feeling that the newer generation will breed its own “riot grrls” who are fed up with the current messages aimed at young girls.”

She got me thinking, so I replied:

“I know this a generational thing, she says, leaning on her cane. But, I think those Mary Quant mini dresses from the sixties (shocking at the time) were pretty darn kicky! Many of the gals who wore them (including Gloria Steinem [below], Marlo Thomas and, even, Hillary Clinton) british-design-classics-stamps-bd5looked and acted smart and sassy in them, accomplishing important things despite their trendy wardrobes. Oh, and back then, women didn’t greet each other with “Yo bitch!” But because I’m human, I’m also torn. Should Gloria (below) be organizing a rally for women’s rights AND showing her whites? Does one cancel the other out? Easy answers are hard to come by (grey is the new black). Fast forward: I doubt time will make the antics of the sparkly “Hot Skank” T-shirt set look or seem better than they are. Exhibitionism in and of itself is such a dead-end for women, although try telling that to a young gal who thinks her sex appeal is her only ticket. Looks ARE power. That816883_161653_0e26a5649f_l won’t change, and it shouldn’t. It’s how you wield it (and come to terms with it) that matter. Obviously, this is a very North American and very privileged take on women’s autonomy, but it’s all I know. I’ve never lived in Afghanistan or been pressured to drop a sheet over my head because my looks and very existence were thought to be a major distraction, at best, or subversive, at worst. In the end, maybe the deepest part of human nature makes us all (women and men) go a little crazy over the effect of women’s attributes. Like John Berger said, “Women have a different social presence than men. Men watch women, while women watch men looking at them.” I still say the “Girls Gone Wild” period will go down as a dip (no, a free fall) in women’s history. Hopefully Britain’s Royal Mail will never approve a “skank stamp.” As always, LOVE your input, Emily!”

Does anyone else want to weigh in?


3 responses to “Your letters”

  1. Sarah Millar says:

    I'm really torn Alison, which is why I didn't comment on your first post on this. Are girls today "skanks" because they dress a certain way or call each other that? No more so than girls in the '60s were. Do girls today relish the attention they get from boys for dressing in a provocative way? I'd wager yes, otherwise they wouldn't be. That being said teenage girls are still teenage girls. They still have a lot to learn about their sexuality, the way to dress and themselves. No one has the answers at 16 no matter what generation you came of age in.

  2. AlisonGJ says:

    Sarah! Thank you. I think we're all torn on this one. ~ Alison

  3. Great article Alison! I would even say that many adults – men and women alike – still struggle with their sexuality, its power and how to use this said power in a "healthy" way. Any given Saturday night on the dance floor of Fly nightclub, you will see many a gay gentleman in his 40s or 50s pushing the envelope, yours truly included… But when it comes to men, the behaviour is labelled as “sexy” or blamed on a “middle age crisis”, never “skanky” or “gone wild”.

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