Blackspot

Girl Revolt

For our parents, liberation started with burning bras. What will it be for you?

In November, culture jammers everywhere will rupture consumer society. In seven nights of carnivalesque rebellion, teachers will join with punks, churchgoers with pranksters, and homeowners with hobos to shake the foundations of the global consumerist tyranny. But there is one group in particular that has the potential to spark widespread revolt.

Girls, females between the age of 13 and 19, are perhaps the most oppressed group in consumer society. As a previous generation of feminists made clear, Western culture is marked by widespread violence against women. And despite the media blackout, which continues to this day, most people know at least one female who has either developed an eating disorder or been sexually assaulted. I'll never forget my first-year orientation at Swarthmore: We were warned that nationwide the first six weeks of university are considered a "red zone" because rape is dangerously common.

The feminist critique is still valid but it must also go deeper. Even for girls who are spared the terrors of anorexia or rape, there is still the debilitating psychological war waged by advertising.

Consumerism is the new patriarchy. The beauty industry is the beast. Advertising constrains the horizon of female aspirations, gendering their dreams before they're hatched. Girls, even when they are still a fetus in the womb, are the target of an unrelenting image assault. Pretty little girls is what this society wants and it gets it through a flood of erotically charged marketing that propagandizes half the population, and their parents, to sexualize femininity at an early age. Of course, boys get the message too. But their assigned role is as the aggressor party. Girls, on the other hand, are told that weak and vulnerable is sexy.

But all this gives girls a tremendous power. Even the smallest tremors of rebellion can start an earthquake. Beginning now, and peaking in November, girls will revolt. Break the chains of advertising, overthrow the patriarchy of consumerism, blockade the libidinal economy. A week without makeup, stink bombs instead of perfume, public burnings of Cosmopolitan… any of these could be enough to start a chain reaction against consumer capitalism.

For our parents, liberation started with burning bras. What will it be for you?


Micah White is a contributing editor at Adbusters and an independent activist. He lives in Berkeley and is writing a book about the future of activism. www.micahmwhite.com or micah (at) adbusters.org

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100 comments on the article “Girl Revolt”

Displaying 31 - 40 of 100

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Anonymous

For committing the same crime, men receive approximately 3 times the sentence a woman receives. The discrepancy gets even larger when talking about sex crimes. Female statutory rapists typically receive house arrest while men go to jail. A non-violent female criminal will typically serve less than one third of her sentence while the average non-violent male criminal will serve closer to 90 percent of his sentence. Case in point, Lindsey Lohan served less than 30 days of her 90 day sentence. That's not because she's a celebrity, it's because she's a woman.

Anonymous

For committing the same crime, men receive approximately 3 times the sentence a woman receives. The discrepancy gets even larger when talking about sex crimes. Female statutory rapists typically receive house arrest while men go to jail. A non-violent female criminal will typically serve less than one third of her sentence while the average non-violent male criminal will serve closer to 90 percent of his sentence. Case in point, Lindsey Lohan served less than 30 days of her 90 day sentence. That's not because she's a celebrity, it's because she's a woman.

Mmmm!

who said that this is ok?

in my opinion, it's yet another symptom of culturally-made inequality. men and women should receive the same sentences for the same crimes. basta.

i agree, though, that it's the girls (and women in general) that could and should raise their voices more and louder. i find myself in a world where i have to be skinny and sexy and beautiful, feminine, AND, at the same time, smart and strong.. when i am only the latter (whoever judges that), i am not perceived as a "valid" female. i get to hear statements like, well, she's so smart because she is not pretty and she has to make up for that!
and it seems to be more ok to be only pretty, sexy etc. as a woman. it's respected more by the majority than when i'm only smart.

another example for this double bind is found in research (e.g., studies by Alice Eagly and colleagues. check it out if you dont believe me). There's abundant research on the topic "females as leaders". one common finding:
female leaders are rated more negatively than male leaders, even though they're doing the same job. it's said to be deriving from a perceived role-incongruity, i.e., female gender roles don't "fit" with the image of leadership which is associated with male gender stereotypes. the results are that those leading women are less liked in general and that their leadership abilities are perceived as less effective and favorable..

Mmmm!

who said that this is ok?

in my opinion, it's yet another symptom of culturally-made inequality. men and women should receive the same sentences for the same crimes. basta.

i agree, though, that it's the girls (and women in general) that could and should raise their voices more and louder. i find myself in a world where i have to be skinny and sexy and beautiful, feminine, AND, at the same time, smart and strong.. when i am only the latter (whoever judges that), i am not perceived as a "valid" female. i get to hear statements like, well, she's so smart because she is not pretty and she has to make up for that!
and it seems to be more ok to be only pretty, sexy etc. as a woman. it's respected more by the majority than when i'm only smart.

another example for this double bind is found in research (e.g., studies by Alice Eagly and colleagues. check it out if you dont believe me). There's abundant research on the topic "females as leaders". one common finding:
female leaders are rated more negatively than male leaders, even though they're doing the same job. it's said to be deriving from a perceived role-incongruity, i.e., female gender roles don't "fit" with the image of leadership which is associated with male gender stereotypes. the results are that those leading women are less liked in general and that their leadership abilities are perceived as less effective and favorable..

KK

Point of order: Girls are not the most 'oppressed' group in consumer society; they're the most 'pursued' group in consumer society. The larger purchases men make don't stimulate the economy as much as the thousands of smaller purchases women make. And yes, the bombardment to buy needless crud is pervasive and ever-present. But that's the downside of living in first-world, consumerist countries...and nobody has to 'buy into it'. Seriously, how difficult is it for girls to turn their TVs off? To not subscribe to "Cheater/Divorce/Pregnancy" Magazine? Some personal choice and responsibility goes a long way.

KK

Point of order: Girls are not the most 'oppressed' group in consumer society; they're the most 'pursued' group in consumer society. The larger purchases men make don't stimulate the economy as much as the thousands of smaller purchases women make. And yes, the bombardment to buy needless crud is pervasive and ever-present. But that's the downside of living in first-world, consumerist countries...and nobody has to 'buy into it'. Seriously, how difficult is it for girls to turn their TVs off? To not subscribe to "Cheater/Divorce/Pregnancy" Magazine? Some personal choice and responsibility goes a long way.

Anonymous1

it is difficult, for we are social creatures and seek social acceptance, and unfortunately the society i live in has it so that the only social acceptance you can get is manufactured by the people on TV. so it is difficult. we are conditioned in this way since birth, so it is hard.

Anonymous1

it is difficult, for we are social creatures and seek social acceptance, and unfortunately the society i live in has it so that the only social acceptance you can get is manufactured by the people on TV. so it is difficult. we are conditioned in this way since birth, so it is hard.

Anonymous

Speaking as a woman, it is hard to turn away from the sexualized femininity funneled through the media. However, turning away from what is harmful can be hard, but it is also (sometimes) right. So, you do it anyways. Using 'it's hard' as a excuse for your unhappiness is only irresponsible as you have the power to say enough. Conform as much as is absolutely necessary to survive and live with what makes you comfortable in all other areas. Set an example to the young women who are being victimized before birth, especially if current norms of femininity are cause for concern.

Anonymous

Speaking as a woman, it is hard to turn away from the sexualized femininity funneled through the media. However, turning away from what is harmful can be hard, but it is also (sometimes) right. So, you do it anyways. Using 'it's hard' as a excuse for your unhappiness is only irresponsible as you have the power to say enough. Conform as much as is absolutely necessary to survive and live with what makes you comfortable in all other areas. Set an example to the young women who are being victimized before birth, especially if current norms of femininity are cause for concern.

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