It’s a glossy world, filled with self discovery and female badassery where men are captive, drooling oafs pining to be entertained. Entertained by that one special woman who aspires to be great, discovers her voice and comes to have her eager audience eating from the palm of her hand all while finding the love of her life. Yeah. Right!
I’m talking about Burlesque, the new movie starring Cher and Christina Aquilera but more importantly, I’m talking about my daughter and the fact that pop culture continues to try to make her a “ho!” Having worked in entertainment all of my adult life, I’ve heard all about feminine empowerment and women coming to terms with and embracing their own sexual desires and that’s fine. I’m happily married 15 years and I’m all for my own wife owning and embracing her own sexual energy but I’m so very much over this glossy, pseudo empowerment that the media pushes down our daughters’ throats. This “pop female empowerment.”
My Princess is 14 now and pop figures have the potential to greatly influence impressionable girls who are finding themselves. Pair that with the unhealthy images they see in the media of waif thin women gracing the covers of some of their favorite magazines and seemingly every “children’s” cable TV star going from someone we comfortably allow our daughters to watch and listen to, to a sex kitten discovering and experimenting with young adulthood in the most public of ways (ahem, Mylie, Britney, Christina, Vanessa, etc). Bottom-line is that, I’m not sold on the empowerment angle! I’m a man. I know what men think when they see that and no matter how “in control” the Burlesque dancer is and how little clothing they take off, it is still in essence a strip tease and no matter how we want to push the envelope, if most of us are very honest, our greatest desire for our daughters is not to become a stripper or adult entertainer. Period. I haven’t met a dad yet who would say that, no matter how many said, “I just want her to be happy.”
Now, I know some may say, “Why are you getting your draws in a wad?” This is an adult movie.” Really? Have you watched the trailer? Admittedly, I haven’t seen the movie which is why I’m refraining from casting any premature judgement (though I’m quite sure it’s rather formula and I could tell you the plot points from scene one to the credits), but when you take a pop diva like Aguilera and put some great pop/dance music and throw in all the costuming that looks like the adult Halloween costumes that teens wear these days (not mine), hunky male co-stars and a love story… all into the trailer, which demographic do you think will be out in droves to see the flick? Young adult and teen girls, of course.
I know some of you dads out there are looking at all of this and the little girl you’ve been tasked with raising and as some comedians have joked, “your job for the next 18 years is to keep her off the stripper pole,” and you’re mortified. How do I know? Because I often find myself talking to dads about these kinds of things and the majority of us are mortified about what our “baby girls” have to deal with from this culture. Fear not, I’m going to throw in some actionable steps so that you can make your daughter Burlesque-resistant. Notice, I didn’t say “proof.” She’s still her own person and will make her own decisions one day….for better or worse.
Step 1: As she gets older, TALK TO HER IN FRANK TERMS. You know why tweens go looking to their peers for some of the worst advice on the issues troubling them? Because they feel like you and mom are going to sugar coat the answers. You’ll sanitize them. Remember when it was “awesome” that your little bundle of joy was curious about everything and wanting to explore the world around them? THEY STILL ARE. It’s just become a little more uncomfortable to discuss. Get a straw and suck it up! The more honest the conversations, the less your tween/teen will think they’re missing out on and the less they’ll probably go looking for peer advice which is generally a great case of the blind leading the bling.
Step 2: Have what I call, the “Kim Kardashian Conversation.” When you’re just a regular tween/teen, YOU DON’T BECOME POPULAR BY MAKING A SEX TAPE. You become the school floozy. I mean, you’re “popular,” but nobody wants to be you and you’re not a “sex symbol.” In real life, there’s nothing glamorous about gaining your popularity using pop culture’s methods and young ladies need to know this. They need to know that sexting, like Vanessa Hudgens and Rihanna have done and had those pics outed all over the ‘net is not cute or cool. Those two gals have PR people to spin and do damage control. Your daughter doesn’t. And she needs to know that.
Step 3: When I was a teenage boy trying to sew his oats, the thing I noticed most about “easy girls” was their lack of relationship with their fathers. Whether they had one in the home or not, the lack of a meaningful connection with him made them young ladies looking for love and approval from hormonally driven young men like me (and, maybe you) to fill the hole left by daddy. Don’t leave that hole in your daughter. I don’t care how old she is, lavish her with love, praise, appropriate affection and honesty. Complement her! Don’t tell her she’s pretty all the time, sometimes tell her she’s stunning and then watch the type of smile on her face that will light up the rest of the day for both of you. Complement her on how she puts together her outfits, picking out details like the fact that her earrings match her finger nail polish (ahem, this tip works for mom too!).
I think that’s enough to get you going for now. I’d love to hear from some of our awesome female audience and get your thoughts on this issue!