#nowwhat, Barbie, Culture, sexual politics, Slut-shaming -

On Slut-Shaming, Sexual Politics, and Barbie: #NowWhat

Barbie, among others, are helping change sexual politics and end slut-shaming.

ColumnFor as long as the Earth has turned, people have had lots of opinions about women and girls, and their bodies. This past week just drove the previous point home… hard.

Toward the end of January, a group of six teens visited the office of Washington state Representative Mary Dye (R). The visit was part of Planned Parenthood’s Teen Lobby Day. The meeting was supposed to go like this: the teens were going to pick Dye’s brain for a period of time and ask her some questions about health insurance and contraceptives; the teen lobbyists also “made a push for bills that would expand access to birth control,” Mic reports. Well, Lobby Day took a turn for the worse when Dye asked the group of teens if they were virgins.

Why did this politician think it was a good idea to ask a group of teens about their sexually active status? No one knows for sure, but all the teens who were present at the meeting agreed on one thing: Dye’s inquiry about their virginity was inappropriate and creepy.

Rachel Todd, the group’s supervisor and an education specialist for Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho, says Dye’s comments were unsolicited. “After she made the statement about virginity, all of my teens looked at me,” Todd says. “And I said, ‘You don’t have to answer that. You don’t have to answer that.'”

After Dye asked the question, she offered the teens advice on “the empowerment of women and making good choices,” these were, apparently, opinions shaped by her mother and from her experience as a mother of three daughters, Mic reports.

Dye isn’t the first person to say something completely idiotic about young people’s virginity. Cultures around the world have been placing value on virginity for years and slut-shaming people — mostly girls — who don’t adhere to their purity standards.

While it is a bit shocking that a politician thought she could get away with shaming a group of teens, it’s not surprising that people — specifically men — think it’s okay to slut-shame their exes. Yeah, we’re going to talk about this whole Amber Rose, Kanye West beef. Sigh…

Amber Rose recently wrote a piece in Time about all the slut-shaming she’s received over the years. In Rose’s piece, she detailed how she’s been treated poorly for dating men, while her exes are lauded for bedding many women. “After my ex-husband Wiz Khalifa and I got a divorce, I’d go out for a date at a restaurant like any normal single human and people would say, ‘Man, she’s such a ho. She’s out at restaurants with guys.’ Then they would see my ex-husband with a bunch of women. They would say, ‘He’s the man! That’s so cool.’ So when I went on a date, I’m a whore, and when he’s piling girls in a car, he’s the man? There’s something wrong here,” Rose writes.

She also reflected on how she’s been shamed for working as a stripper:

“People would actually say things like, ‘Who would ever love you? You were a stripper. Why are you in relationships?’ And I used to feel like I had to explain that maybe it was because I’m a good person… I can’t talk to everyone and tell them who I really am. They’re still going to have their own opinions. If you know me, you love me. If you don’t know me, you might love me, but you might not – and that’s cool. And you know what? Now I sleep like a baby at night.”

Yeah, Rose isn’t like you and me, but being slut-shamed is awful no matter who you are, and it’s nice to see yet another woman have the guts to speak out and put trash talkers in their place.

Next up, Barbie’s new bodies.

You may be thinking, “what do slut-shaming and sexism have to do with new, body-diverse barbie?” Quite a lot, actually.

Just this past week, Mattel, Barbie’s corporate parents, unveiled a line of dolls called “Fashionistas.” The line includes three different Barbie body types, seven different skin tones, and Barbies with different hair and eye colors, too.

Yeah,  a doll isn’t going to stop people from pressuring women to look or dress a certain way, but it’s a pretty big deal that a large corporation that creates dolls for kids has finally, finally, decided to sell different sizes and shades of dolls that are, by and large, marketed to young girls.

“Despite her ridiculous proportions, the original Barbie, with her golden hair, svelte frame and tanned skin, is seen to be emblematic of the predominant beauty ideals in Western society,” Dazed Digital reports. “The introduction of variety means that young girls can now select their own perception of perfection; one which is far more relatable than the 56-year old icon of old.”

Agreed.

So, as far as we’re concerned, this is a step in a body positive, non-body shaming direction. Maybe we’re on course to a kinder future after all.

Related on EcoSalon

Lady Parts Nails the Whole ‘Rape as Character Development’ Problem [Video]

3 Companies that Make Sustainable Sex Sexy

Healthy Sexuality in a Dangerous World: Sexual Healing

Image of Barbie via Facebook

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