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 91 - 100 of 100

Page 10 of 10

Anonymous

Just thought this might be a good reminder to those of you who argue that this article is way to 'feminist.' I don't care who it is I'm adding as a link. I care only about the issue that it addresses.

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2010/09/16/bc-facebook-rave-rape.html

I am also concerned, and quite frankly disturbed, that Facebook would allow photos and videos of this tragedy to be posted on their site. Not only has this young women been drugged and violated by a number of men, she is now being stigmatized further as images of her shame are spread around the internet. I'm too angry at humanity to continue...

Anonymous

Just thought this might be a good reminder to those of you who argue that this article is way to 'feminist.' I don't care who it is I'm adding as a link. I care only about the issue that it addresses.

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2010/09/16/bc-facebook-rave-rape.html

I am also concerned, and quite frankly disturbed, that Facebook would allow photos and videos of this tragedy to be posted on their site. Not only has this young women been drugged and violated by a number of men, she is now being stigmatized further as images of her shame are spread around the internet. I'm too angry at humanity to continue...

Anonymous

I'm disgusted by some of the comments on this article. The comments posted by men on how its ridiculous to think of women being oppressed. The oppression we face is so ingrained in our society that most people don't even realize it's happening. This doesn't have anything to do with statistics and who gets more jail time it's about our society and how its on an extreme masculine tilt and always has been. We need a balance in our world and that balance is going to happen by embracing the feminine these men try so hard to keep out. Women ARE going to save the world.

Anonymous

I'm disgusted by some of the comments on this article. The comments posted by men on how its ridiculous to think of women being oppressed. The oppression we face is so ingrained in our society that most people don't even realize it's happening. This doesn't have anything to do with statistics and who gets more jail time it's about our society and how its on an extreme masculine tilt and always has been. We need a balance in our world and that balance is going to happen by embracing the feminine these men try so hard to keep out. Women ARE going to save the world.

Anonymous

I want to point out to anybody who is not aware of this: Sexual assault on a woman is not just a man jumping out of a bush and raping a woman. Sexual assault on a woman is: That boss I had who kept bringing up perverted topics to me and showed me pictures of naked women (I quit and the police wouldn't help me... NO PROOF.) Sexual assault is when you are out with friends and guys try to grope you at the club. Sexual assault is the marketing of revealing outfits to younger and younger girls. Sexual assault is when men try to get women to drink more- to lower their inhibitions. It is in the music marketed to teenagers in the male-dominated music industry. I have to tell you. Sexual assault has affected every woman I know at one time or another. Our society is, as we all know, one that promotes competition. Women suffer from this greatly because the same social norms that ask a young woman to conform to fashion and fitting in are the same that condemn her for wearing that outfit to a club. Someone slips something in her drink, hurts her, and people say "she asked for it". SHE is most probably a human being who grew up dreaming innocent dreams of living life to the fullest with respect for her body and the last thing she probably expected was to wake up degraded and feeling powerless. Believe me, I have had this conversation with SO many women. These are not isolated incidents and there are men reading this who have committed these acts and have daughters of their own, who dream innocent dreams. This is society. I know that if I were to look at a picture of my graduating class, I can point out at least 13 young men who took advantage of young women. And a lot of those men were able to laugh it off in the locker-room. Those men grow up and become politicians and teachers and police officers and insurance agents and fathers and basically average citizens and not many stand up and say "Jeeze, I have done some terrible things in my life. I have severely damaged people's lives. Maybe I should do something about it." Some of them never actually realize that women are human beings and that all human beings deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.

Anonymous

I want to point out to anybody who is not aware of this: Sexual assault on a woman is not just a man jumping out of a bush and raping a woman. Sexual assault on a woman is: That boss I had who kept bringing up perverted topics to me and showed me pictures of naked women (I quit and the police wouldn't help me... NO PROOF.) Sexual assault is when you are out with friends and guys try to grope you at the club. Sexual assault is the marketing of revealing outfits to younger and younger girls. Sexual assault is when men try to get women to drink more- to lower their inhibitions. It is in the music marketed to teenagers in the male-dominated music industry. I have to tell you. Sexual assault has affected every woman I know at one time or another. Our society is, as we all know, one that promotes competition. Women suffer from this greatly because the same social norms that ask a young woman to conform to fashion and fitting in are the same that condemn her for wearing that outfit to a club. Someone slips something in her drink, hurts her, and people say "she asked for it". SHE is most probably a human being who grew up dreaming innocent dreams of living life to the fullest with respect for her body and the last thing she probably expected was to wake up degraded and feeling powerless. Believe me, I have had this conversation with SO many women. These are not isolated incidents and there are men reading this who have committed these acts and have daughters of their own, who dream innocent dreams. This is society. I know that if I were to look at a picture of my graduating class, I can point out at least 13 young men who took advantage of young women. And a lot of those men were able to laugh it off in the locker-room. Those men grow up and become politicians and teachers and police officers and insurance agents and fathers and basically average citizens and not many stand up and say "Jeeze, I have done some terrible things in my life. I have severely damaged people's lives. Maybe I should do something about it." Some of them never actually realize that women are human beings and that all human beings deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.

Anonymous

Bullshit, weak and vulnerable is not sexy. I like my women rough and tough, women who lift weights, run, and have blisters on their hand and feet and talk like sailors. Women who kick ass.

Anonymous

Bullshit, weak and vulnerable is not sexy. I like my women rough and tough, women who lift weights, run, and have blisters on their hand and feet and talk like sailors. Women who kick ass.

Anonymous

I'm all for pointing out that it's hard for women to be both feminine and yet succeed in our masculine world (and yes, men are oppressed - but not expected to portray both characteristics). However, who the fuck thought of the "bra-burning" line? It's simple history that such connotations are false, a smear campaign against feminism. A simple wikipedia search is enough to find this out. Seriously, Adbusters?

Anonymous

I'm all for pointing out that it's hard for women to be both feminine and yet succeed in our masculine world (and yes, men are oppressed - but not expected to portray both characteristics). However, who the fuck thought of the "bra-burning" line? It's simple history that such connotations are false, a smear campaign against feminism. A simple wikipedia search is enough to find this out. Seriously, Adbusters?

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