Did You Just Call My Daughter A Prostitute?

Whore-friendly panties. If ever three words made my head explode, they were it, considering they were said about panties belonging to ten year old girls. Ten year old girls, 4th graders, cannot be whores.

Please repeat after me: A prostitute is a woman who trades sex for money. Whores, sluts, skanks, and tramps are judgements, not people. It is important to recognize that our sexily dressed little girls are not whores, they most likely have no sexual history at all. They are little girls being allowed to wear sexualized clothing by the parents who should be looking out for them.

Wal-Mart's 2007 #pantyfail

I think what LZ Granderson meant was the innuendo of sex for money/gifts that a pair of panties that reads “Who needs credit cards?” gives, suggesting the use of the anatomy the panties cover would garner the wearer the same end result as would the purchasing power of a credit card. The problem, of course, is the way Mr. Granderson worded it, the statement came off sounded like the slut-shaming of a girl too young to understand the message her panties send; a girl certainly not deserving of stigmatized and controlling views of her sexuality. Mr. Granderson has no right to call any female a whore.

Clothing, or lack of clothing, does not make someone a prostitute. When we are cavalier about the degrading terms we use for our girls, we belittle their inherent worth, and desensitize ourselves to what it really means to be a prostitute. From what I hear, it isn’t a great lifestyle. The proximity I had with it as an investigator revealed it to be brutal, lonely, and dangerous. Our culture sends mixed messages to young women to be hot and sexy and available at all times, and then as soon as these women or girls become sexual agents and act on their desires they face the repressive push-back from society and are branded sluts and whores. Confused? So am I.

When we see a girl dressed in an outfit sexy beyond her years, as a concerned parent like Mr. Granderson, we raise our eye brows, catch our breath, worry about what messages she is growing up with. As cited in the original CNN post, the 2007 watershed studyby the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls revealed that early sexualization harbors danger for our growing daughters: low self-esteem, eating disorders, substance abuse, poor body image, early promiscuity.

Do I think “Juicy” in glittery silk-screened paint across the bum of a child is inappropriate? Yes I do. Let’ s just put our cards on the table, although the Juicy brand actually has an interesting history of two entrepreneurial women behind it…..when someone is bent over and their ass says “Juicy”, that means exactly what you think it means, especially to heterosexual men ages 16-92 years old.

I loved and hated Mr. Granderson’s CNN piece. Loved it because yes, parents are not meant to be their child’s friend and we need to step up and say “NO” to a lot of what is being marketed to our kids. The money to buy this garbage is coming from somewhere, as Granderson says, “I guess I’ve been out-of-the-loop and didn’t realize there’s been an ongoing stampede of 10-year-old girls driving to the mall with their tiny fists full of cash demanding sexier apparel. What’s that you say? Ten-year-olds can’t drive? They don’t have money, either?”

Mr. Granderson misses two things, maybe because he doesn’t have a daughter – first, tween/teen girls usually shop in packs sans parents are become their own consumer-at-large in a marketplace ripe with sexualization at every turn. I made boodles of money as a teen from babysitting, and bought my own clothes with my friends. Second – everything is a battle for parents these days. Yes, LL Bean has nice, appropriate choices, but I did not shop at LL Bean when I was 14, did you? It is unfair to put the onus entirely on parents because the marketing of this crap is relentless. Relentless.

I hated Granderson’s piece because no man, certainly not a father, has the right to call someone else’s child a slut, whore, skank, bitch, cunt, stripper, prostitute, tramp or hooker. It hurts all women to speak that way, but to use those terms towards a young girl is particularly distasteful, and I will not stand for it. Nor will I stand for girls and women to be ashamed of their sexuality or sexual history.

The prefered term, should you know someone whose daughter actually is a prostitute or dancer (stripper), is sex worker. They work in the sex trade industry. 

Mr. Granderson, not raising a daughter, was perhaps not aware of his transgression as there are no words to the equivalent for his son, that morning the boy tried to wear his pants hanging off his bum.

I absolutely think parents need to turn this ship around, send strong messages to marketers and corporations, and teach our daughters how to dress themselves with respect. But we need to do this with grace towards other families. Not all parents are aware of this issue yet, or some are but have no idea what to do about it.

I adore this comment from Emily, a mama from the Pigtail Pals facebook page:

The bitter irony in using sexual terms to describe a girl who is wearing sexualized clothing is that the observer, in making that judgment, becomes a complicit participant in the sexualization. If we want to stop the sexualization of our children, we can stop by filtering them through a lens of adult-directed judgement. Just because they are wearing clothing we are used to seeing (and likely judging) on adults, doesn’t make them little adults anymore than putting a tutu on my cat makes her a ballerina.

How each family determines what is appropriate dress or not is going to depend on the family and the age of the girl. Generally speaking, there are some garments in cultural perspective that carry fetishized meanings with them – knee high boots, fishnets, mini skits, lace thigh highs, candy red high heels….I would say those are no-no’s for the under 18 set. And yes, I agree shorty short shorts and low cut tops are advertising body parts of young girls. You’ll have to decide where you draw your line. And yes, much of the girls departments offer clothing that turns girls into mini-adults and I’m not a fan of that trend. But no piece of clothing turns a girl into a tramp.

So what do we take away from the this week’s hullabaloo about kids, sex, gender, and childhood?

One – we can open a larger conversation about slut-shaming and stop assuming  and judging a person’s sexual history and sexual availability based on their outfit.

Two – we can see that there is no black/white to this issue. It isn’t just parents at fault, it isn’t just companies/marketers at fault. We need, as a culture, a fundamental shift in how we view our children, and how we value childhood. When our culture’s preoccupation with sex creeps down into middle school, grade school, and holy hell – preschool – we’ve got MUCH bigger problems than trashy panties with sexual innuendo and push-up bras for breasts that haven’t developed yet. Those are just symptoms of the problem.

If any media outlets are ready to talk about the real issues, I offer myself as a delightful guest. As long as we continue to focus on the symptoms, we only give lip service to the “too sexy, too soon” generation.

*Photo from Scared Monkeys blog, with post linked above, and again here.

Comments

  1. Pre-Parent says:

    A wonderful piece!! I totally agree, especially that “we’ve got MUCH bigger problems than trashy panties with sexual innuendo and push-up bras for breasts that haven’t developed yet. Those are just symptoms of the problem.” (As an aside, I think you meant “onus” instead of “ownness” up there… :)) But thank you for writing this!

    • Oh ha! You are right, it should be “onus”. I’ll correct that. I was finishing this up around 3am this morning, at which time my brain apparently likes to make up new spellings for words.

      Glad you enjoyed the piece!

  2. Morgan Gallagher says:

    *Sustained round of applause*

    Word.

  3. Anastasia says:

    I don’t like that he called them tramps. I agree that no woman should be called that, regardless of what she is wearing.

    However. Saying that girls shop in packs without parents may be true but perhaps it shouldn’t be. The onus is absolutely on parents to parent their kids, even in the face of marketing. This, I think, is the point. Abdicating your parenting responsibilities as a concession to market pressure is pretty weak.

    I do have daughters and while they are not tweens we have already had many conversations about what skirts or shorts are an appropriate length and that even though Hannah’s mommy lets her wear halter tops and belly shirts, we aren’t going to do that and yes, I realize Abby wears a bikini but you’re not wearing one until you leave this house. These conversations start at 5, 6, and 7. I’m addressing it with my daughter now and she knows that she won’t be dressing totally unsupervised until she is out from under my roof. By then, she ought to have some sense.

    Right now, she’s on board. That will change and she’s going to hate me because she’ll be the only girl not shopping in a pack with friends. I’m okay with that. It’s called parenting.

    • Hi Anastasia -
      Thanks for your comment. We talk about those exact conversations that you have with your daughters all the time on this blog and with our parent community on facebook/twitter. I began those conversations with my own daughter when she was about three years old. Whether the topic is clothing that is too skimpy, sexualized toys, or inappropriate media, I agree that it is the responsibility of the parent to keep it out of the house.

      I am not saying parents give up their control because of the marketing pressures, I am saying we need to offer some understanding and grace to parents who might let something slip because if every purchase becomes a battle, I for one can see where the fight would become exhausting. Since you and I both parent daughters younger than the tween years, we have yet to find out just how bad it gets. Hopefully, with continued conversation and careful guidance like that which you and I as mothers provide, we will be able to avoid most of the battles with our own daughters.

      I also do not think there is inherent evil in letting girls shop together. It is an important part of socialization and independence building for teen girls (as is sports, school clubs, community service). Is 10yo too young for that? Yes. But by 15, 16, 17yo girls are certainly capable of being trusted to be at the mall with their friends, exercise their family values while in public, and share their purchases with their parents when they return home. We can’t control all the moments our daughters’ entire youth, nor can we lock them away. I hope I’m raising my daughter with sound judgement and self respect so that this doesn’t become an issue for us in the future.

  4. I absolutely HATE the use of words like whore, slut, etc. I remember hearing it in middle school and at that time, how can you even reconcile the meaning of the words? I remember a girl coming from 5th to 6th grade was called that, and I believe it changed her middle school years. I don’t know why people think (especially women!) that it is OK to use those words when we are talking sexualization, let alone with children. Good dialogue and post.

  5. Anne-Marie says:

    I recently had to explain to my four-year-old niece why I was not comfortable with a dress she wanted to wear unless she wore a T under the traingle-top, spaghetti strap bodice. I will never forget her plaintive “It’s not fair!!!” as I pictured, terrified, both a pedophile ogling her tiny body AND someone like the author of the CNN piece. I looked her in the eyes, put my hands on her little shoulders and said “You are right. It’s NOT fair. But we simply have to find a shirt you are willing to wear under this dress.” It was a gift from her grandmother, who of course didn’t see the skin I saw, just the pink and the silver hearts that this child adores. What a nightmare morning! I know her mom and dad do the same, and she even told me that they wouldn’t let her wear a halter top someone gave her. She got over it. But I am still angry that, at four, she can’t walk around naked or wearing whatever sparkly thing has caught her eye without the risk that she will be called one of these awful names, even if only in someone’s head, or learn to get feedback by performing sexy. In short, I HATE that her clothes send messages about sexy already, and that she has to learn this lesson at this age. But I am definitely going to help teach it, so that when she’s older, she can send the messages she wants to send and have fun with the language of clothing. Short skirts, v-necks and high heels were fun for me in college because I knew there was a language there, I knew I had a choice about wearing them, and I knew that my clothes did not constitute a promise to perform any kind of sex act. I also had the maturity to know what was too short and too low/what would make me uncomfortable or attract too much unwanted attention. This is so personal for each woman, and so tricky to navigate, that it seems so unfair to shove girls so young into the minefield.

    • Hi Anne-Marie -
      It is hugely unfair to shove girls into the minefield of sexualization as it undermines their natural born right to a girlhood.

      One thing I want to point out – over 90% of children who are sexually abused are done so by people they know, people they trust. The misnomer of the “creepy old man pedophile” doesn’t do us much good. We need to pay the most attention to how sexualization changes our children on the inside, and not be so concerned with remote danger the lurks externally. You nail it on the head when you say, “learn to get feedback by performing sexy”.

      Your neice is quite fortunate to have a auntie who loves and protects her so.

      • Anne-Marie says:

        Melissa, you are more right than you know. I was abused by my mom’s boyfriend when I was nine–and I was in my own house. Isn’t it interesting that that other pedophile image still jumps up, even at me? I’m not sure what that means. But it is the INSIDE that needs the most attention. The most lasting damage done to me by the man who assaulted me is nonetheless similar to what can happen if children are sexualized–the line between what you really feel and what’s coming at you from the outside, that feedback, can blur or even disappear. Someone took that away from me in an instant, and I spent years redrawing that boundary. Products, language, advertising, all the messages we discuss here and on Facebook can erode it over time, though, too.

        If my niece is lucky, then so am I. I have never loved anything or anyone so fiercely, and I loved her before I met her. Her mama (my big sister) protected me when she could and cried with me when she couldn’t. I am oh so happy that our girl gets both of us on her side.

        • Anne-Marie -
          Beautifully said. I am so sorry for the girlhood you had stolen from you, but I recognize the strong woman that has emerged from surviving that hurt. That fierce love you speak of, I know it well, and it fuels me at the start of every new day. Not just for my daughter, but for all girls who are seeing that boundary disappear.

  6. Where i can get behind your message, that a redefinition of ‘girly’ is definitely needed, especially in the current climate. We need to not sexualize our children so much that cases like the 11 year old in Texas aren’t blamed for being gang raped. However, I find your post to be kind of short sited.

    We, as a group of concerned citizens, can do this without demonizing sex workers, and your research on ‘prostitutes’ was rather one sided by the way, and we can do it with out being inherently oppressive and sex negative.

    • Okay, so apparently my uncaffeinated brain can’t function properly yet, and my reading comprehension has been compromised a bit. I just read it again, and got a bit more of it this time. My apologies.

      However, I still say that your one link to sex work is kind of short sighted, and leads people to think that all sex workers are addicts. Which is some what unfair

      • Well, that’s better. Thanks for re-reading and ammending your comment. Get yourself some coffee, Friend! I’m on mug no. 2 myself.

        I don’t think my link to the first person telling of sex work is “short sighted”. I think that link lended to my point of how empty and lonely sex work can be, and why we need to be careful when we refer to that industry when speaking about a girl whose outfit we disapprove of – the two are worlds apart.

        I think it is a jump to say people will read that link and think that all sex workers are addicts, but I do agree that the assumption would be an unfair one.

        Lastly, fret not! I am doing quite a bit of research on the sex trade industry for a big piece coming later this summer, in which you will find the references to that world to be a bit more balanced.

    • Hi David -
      My post in no way demonizes sex workers, nor were any of my words oppressive or sex negative. Please take a second look.

  7. I’ll be the odd one out and say it. No, he did not call your daughter a prostitute. He wrote “whore friendly panties”. If you are willing to define a prostitute as a female who exchanges sex for money and if you are willing to accept that whore is an unpleasant, yet common degrading term for a prostitute, he STILL did not call your daughter a prostitute.

    He called a pair of underwear as “whore friendly”. Would it be better if he called them “prostitute friendly”? Because that is EXACTLY what they are! Why else would you put that phrase on a pair on garments that cover the sexual organs?

    He likened wearing the clothing to “dressing like prostitutes”. No where is he saying the girls are selling their bodies. He is saying that the clothing industry and the parents are allowing themselves to be sucked into the idea that clothing that can either empower or degrade a woman is appropriate for girls.

    Do I let my girls wear bikinis and tankinis? Yes, because they like the comfort. Do I let them select their clothing? Yes, with veto power from me and their father.

    And if you think 10 year olds do not exchange sexual acts for money, I think you should spend some time with my cousin. He’s an assistant principal and has weekly encounters with kids in his high school performing sexual acts in the school. His elementary counterparts have much less frequent reports, but still do discuss the occasional sex in the schools starting in 4-5th grade.

    The best thing is to bring this article to the attention of your daughters and sons. DISCUSS IT. Ask what they think when they see a girl dressed like that. Don’t worry about the words “whore” and “tramp”. Odds are, your child has heard them and probably don’t have the correct definition.

    • Right on Spacemom – I agree with you all the way down the line.

    • The fact that people make these sorts of judgments about adult women and their clothing choices doesn’t make it right – saying that a little girl is dressed like a tramp implicitly suggests that it is, in fact, possible for an 8 year old to *be* a tramp. I think it’s appalling that companies are marketing these clothes to little girls and that their parents are complicit in purchasing them.

      Melissa quoted my Facebook comment above and I stand by that – by making these sorts of sexualized judgements about little girls, we become complicit in their sexualization. In the literal sense, no, the author of the original piece did not say that wearing these panties/juicy sweats/belly skimming halter tops means that a little girl is exchanging sex for money – but by *likening* the two, he’s saying that she looks like she would and is making a judgment about the child, as well as her parents, whether he really means to or not. How is that better? Using words like “tramp” or “whore” are implicit judgments about sexual availability based on appearance that reinforce rape culture and have no place in a discussion about *stopping* the sexualization of our children. That sort of language may seem like much less of a big deal than little girls in Madonna/Lady Gaga worth outfits and makeup or dolls that celebrate sexualization, but they are part of the same culture that encourages women and girls to present as sexual beings and then punishes them for it.

      I do think that the article was trying to be deliberately provacative in order to get the attention of people who may not think that the sexualization of our kids is that big of a deal – but in doing so, he crossed a line into actively sexualizing a little girl who’s just trying to travel with her family.

      • Brava.

      • emandink-
        Sorry- I have to disagree. To say that a child is dressed like a tramp does NOT imply that the child is a tramp.

        When I wear my hockey jersey to work, I have never been told that “hey, she’s dressing like a hockey player, I guess she IS a hockey player”

        The author of the piece was commenting on how the parents allowed their girl who’s traveling with her family to be sexualized. I don’t think using the word “whore” means that I am creating a rape culture. That is taking things way too far.

        • I 100% agree with you, Spacemom!

        • I wholeheartedly agree, also… went back and read his article just to be sure. I also agree with him.

          btw, he talks specifically about 8-10 yo, *not* 14 yo who do have their own money from babysitting, odd jobs, etc.

      • “saying that a little girl is dressed like a tramp implicitly suggests that it is, in fact, possible for an 8 year old to *be* a tramp”

        Only in the same way that saying a little girl is dressed like a horse implicitly suggests that it is, in face, possible for an 8 year old to *be* a horse.

        I agree with Spacemom

  8. I have to repectfully disagree with your take on this article. I thought he was right on. After reading this blog, I had to go back and read his artcile to make sure I was not missing something?!?! In no place does he call young girls tramps or prostitutes or imply that they are having sex or even know what it is. He said “dressing LIKE tramps” and in another place ” LIKE prostitutes.” Are those judgement calls? Sure. I happen to agree with him on those calls too. If an adult woman dresses with provocative stuff written across her butt and cleavage showing, etc, then people are going to look at her in a sexual way and think she is sexually available, and it usually is her intent that they do. I don’t think that’s an excuse for rape, but an excuse for a whistle or glance, sure. If you don’t like it, dress more apporpriately. It’s up to parents to protect our daughters from dressing and looking like this, and encouraging them to show off their bodies like objects. If every purchase become a battle, then as a parent, you need to do your job and battle it! I plan to.
    Anyway, while I don’t think you are going to agree with me, I couldn’t help but share my opinion, too.

    • The fact that people can look at a woman wearing a low-cut shirt and decide that 1) she is “sexually available” and that 2) “sexually available” equals “whore” or “prostitute” is exactly the sort of slut-shaming that this article is talking about. No, Mr. Granderson didn’t call the little girl a prostitute. But if you say “she was dressed like a prositute” or “looked like a tramp” you’re implying that people who wear short skirts, belly-baring shirts, or Juicy sweats ARE tramps. While it may or may not be the case that women who dress like that intend to advertise their sexual availiblity (they may just find those particular pieces of clothing comfortable or attractive to them personally), the fact that people equate sexuality with whoring is massively problematic. This is a culture that encourages, and almost requires, women to be sexy, attractive, appealing to men, and then turns around and judges them for it.

      • Again, I will repectfully disagree with you, too Jen. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, but how I look at it is, as an ADULT (not children here) – it if looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have every reason to assume it’s a duck.

        • Peggy -
          Please know your opinion and statements are welcome here, even if we disagree. I appreciate your analogy. I would only counter that not all ducks dress, walk, and quack the same. I don’t like assuming things about people. Or ducks.

          You know what they say when you assume something, it makes an ass out of u and me.

    • Peggy -
      I do disagree with you, but I appreciate your comment being respectful, and certainly we can disagree.

      • Thank you, Melissa and Peggy both. I appreciate the respectful disagreement, Peggy, but language is important, and if we equate women dressing in a revealing manner with sluttish or whoring behavior then we are degrading the woman herself and not her clothing choices. There are inappropriate places and occasions to wear a short skirt, say, or a deep-V neck shirt, but I find it so troubling that people automatically equate that sort of clothing with negative sexual behavior. There’s nothing wrong with *being* a duck — or with being a woman who likes to wear short skirts, I guess, is my point. And when we talk about dressing provocatively as a negative thing (which I think we can mostly all agree is is, for children, but which adult women have every right to do) we make assumptions about sexual behavior that just continue the vicious cycle of our society’s incredibly mixed-up attitude about sexuality in general.

    • I completely agree with Peggy. As important as it is not to be judgmental of women who make adult choices, respect for free will should not blind us from the fact that these 10 year olds are being dressed (unintentionally) in a sexually provocative manner. That is generally what people mean when they say “whore”, when someone is being too sexy for that particular social situation. And lets not forget nobody called the children whores. The CNN article used shock tactics to make a point that should have been obvious to parents who dress their children like that.

  9. I read LZ Granderson’s post yesterday and I agreed with much of his article but after reading this I realize I read it very superficially. I didn’t find your outrage in his words but agreed with his overall point which is we need to stop what we’re doing to our little girls. I despise seeing words like ‘flirt’ written across a young girl’s chest or ‘juicy’ across their bottoms. It makes me sad and scared for my daughter and what she will face in the coming years. She is now a strong willed, powerful little four year old who loves wearing layers, mixing bold colours and patterns and I hold onto the hope that her playful style will continue through her school years. But I know her classmates, friends and marketers will soon have their say as well.

    I love your post and thank you for helping us see the bigger picture. It’s an important conversation that we all need to have.

    • Hi Kathy -
      I think our bold preschool-aged daughters and their love of mix-matched patterns would get along famously. I agreed with much of Mr. Granderson’s post as well, but I’m a big picture kind of gal. The words we use are important, and his words were offensive.

      Thank you for seeing the big picture with us!

  10. Melissa, I take issue with the following: Mr. Granderson misses two things, maybe because he doesn’t have a daughter – first, tween/teen girls usually shop in packs sans parents are become their own consumer-at-large in a marketplace ripe with sexualization at every turn. I made boodles of money as a teen from babysitting, and bought my own clothes with my friends. Second – everything is a battle for parents these days. Yes, LL Bean has nice, appropriate choices, but I did not shop at LL Bean when I was 14, did you? It is unfair to put the onus entirely on parents because the marketing of this crap is relentless. Relentless.

    I am the mother of two girls, ages 11 and 13. Yes, they go to the mall with their friends – well the older one does, the younger one doesn’t yet, but she will. That doesn’t mean that I don’t see what they buy. That doesn’t mean that they don’t still have to pass my scrutiny. If the clothes are inappropriate, they’d go back. She knows this, and so I’ve not had to fight that battle, but I would. I also pick my battles with my girls, but this one is worth the fight.

    • Hi Irene -
      You are taking issue with me over words you are putting in my mouth. I at no time say that parents give up their veto power, not look in the shopping bags that come home, shrug their shoulders and say “Oh well, that’s what kids wear these days”, or not set limits and family values for when their children are in public.

      I said I went shopping by myself as a teen and made my own choices. I am asking parents to get real about the choices their tweens/teens are faced with when out shopping, and how to help them navigate those choices.

      • I certainly didn’t mean to put any words in your mouth. I guess I missed the point then of the paragraph that I quoted. Can you explain?

        • What I mean is – how does what you think he missed detract from his point? Or argue against it?

          • I sure can, because the understanding and explanation is important. If this is your first time to the blog, I encourage you to explore the tag cloud and see that I routinely address media literacy and marketing issues with parents, and empower them to keep the crap out of their home. I think you’ll see that we are in agreement with each other in the end.

            My point of the paragraph you took issue with was that Granderson questioned kids shopping together, and kids DO shop together, often in packs without a parent, and that they aren’t all shopping at LL Bean, which would probably be where most of us prefer. They are shopping in malls that offer store after store of merchandise heavily marketed to them that is not always in their best interest. Retailers count on this. His point was they don’t do this without parental help, to which I do not disagree. I think his slut-shaming language detracted from his article, the rest of what he wrote I agreed with.

            This was my reply to Anastasia above, see if this resonates with you. I’m repeating it because understanding it is important:
            We talk about those exact conversations…all the time on this blog and with our parent community on facebook/twitter. I began those conversations with my own daughter when she was about three years old. Whether the topic is clothing that is too skimpy, sexualized toys, or inappropriate media, I agree that it is the responsibility of the parent to keep it out of the house.

            I am not saying parents give up their control because of the marketing pressures, I am saying we need to offer some understanding and grace to parents who might let something slip because if every purchase becomes a battle, I for one can see where the fight would become exhausting. Since you and I both parent daughters younger than the tween years, we have yet to find out just how bad it gets. Hopefully, with continued conversation and careful guidance like that which you and I as mothers provide, we will be able to avoid most of the battles with our own daughters.

            I also do not think there is inherent evil in letting girls shop together. It is an important part of socialization and independence building for teen girls (as is sports, school clubs, community service). Is 10yo too young for that? Yes. But by 15, 16, 17yo girls are certainly capable of being trusted to be at the mall with their friends, exercise their family values while in public, and share their purchases with their parents when they return home. We can’t control all the moments our daughters’ entire youth, nor can we lock them away. I hope I’m raising my daughter with sound judgement and self respect so that this doesn’t become an issue for us in the future.

  11. so if i’m a woman and i’m raising a daughter is it okay for me to assert the same opinion as mr. granderson? the bulk of your argument seems to be an ad hominem attack on the man, based mostly on the fact that he’s male and hasn’t sired a female baby.

    i’m a mother of two and frankly i take just as much issue with you claiming his words “hurt all women” as you take with his legitimate observations about responsible parenting. you’ve reduced his entire platform to a two-dimensional gender issue rather than considering the idea that perhaps men can make equally astute observations about raising kids as women.

    let’s face it, “slut shaming” is the catchy buzzphrase permissive people use to dismiss legitimate arguments about sexualized cultural issues. like it or not, sexualization of children is a real issue and simply pointing the finger at men doesn’t address the full issue. no, it’s not okay to blame the victim or make girls any less confident in their sexuality than boys, but far too often i see the phrase “slut shaming” used as a definitive trump card to end a discussion.

    and in spite of your rather blasé attitude about tweens’ purchasing power, you completely miss mr. granderson’s point. babysitting money or not, you’re still driving your daughter to the mall, and you’re still driving her home. she lives under your roof and it’s quite likely you at least get a glimpse at the laundry hamper once in a while. you know what your children are buying and wearing. it’s a cop-out to say, “well they shop in packs and stuff is marketed to them.”

    i spent the better part of my adolescent years at the mall. i once bought a levi’s shirt with the snide words “sit on it” scrawled across the front. my mother saw it once, felt it was inappropriately aggressive for an 11-year-old and pitched it out of my wardrobe. you might call that controlling or “jerk shaming” but i call it parenting.

    your kid doesn’t need you to be her friend, and she doesn’t need you to help her learn about her developing sexuality at an accelerated rate. be her parent and err on the side of conservative judgement because it’s in kids’ natures to push the boundaries.

    • S -
      Aw, see? And I thought I was entirely respectful to Mr. Granderson in my post. In fact, I do not attack him at all, but I do take umbrage to vocabulary he uses. This has nothing to do with him being a man, it has to do with words he chose to use. I think my post is pretty clear about that. I actually agreed with the majority of his post, and I never mention anything about his parenting except for the empirical fact he does not have a daughter.

      Let’s face it, I’m not using the “slut-shaming card” to end a discussion, because I’m sure you noticed in my post, at the end there, where I ask that we create a larger cultural discussion about it.

      As far as my perceived blasé attitude towards tween purchasing power, you can refer yourself to my responses to Irene and Anastasia. That question has been asked and answered.

      Like it or not, this entire blog is about sexualization being a real issue. Dig around a bit more, you may actually like it here.

  12. Ultimately companies are in business to make money. If the items they are promoting didn’t sell, they would stop promoting them. Flat out. That is the answer. Don’t buy them. Don’t allow your children to buy them. You, as a parent, have the ultimate responsibility to dress your child the way you see fit. Hopefully that won’t include sexualized clothing. As a parent of an 18yo girl and a 13yo boy, I can tell you that he** would have frozen over before I allowed my 10 or 14yo child to choose their own clothes without supervision or veto power. Last I checked children under age 16 are too young to earn their own money or drive themselves to the mall to buy their own clothes. If you send your child off to the mall with a fist full of money and no supervision, whose fault is it that they come home with something that you don’t feel is appropriate? It’s not the garment manufacturers. It’s yours. I think much of the clothes they have out for little girls right now are disgusting. For much of my daughter’s tween/teen years, we bought shorts in the boys department because they didn’t show off half her body. Now that she’s 18 she buys her own clothes and thankfully still chooses capris or longer shorts over shorty shorts. It would be really nice if we lived in a world that didn’t judge people by how they looked unfortunately we do and I doubt very much that’s going to change any time soon. The best thing to do is teach your daughter or son what a more appropriate way is to dress and send a message to the businesses by not buying things you don’t agree with.

  13. When reading your post, I originally began developing a counter argument. But, then I began to understand where you are coming from. I’m one of the mothers that sees an onslaught of males that are of this character, that women are to be incredibly sexy, whore themselves, and then at the end of the day-they’re called just that. Whores. How is a girl to grow up in this society if even with good intentions, the one man that stands against this horrific deculturalization of women is seeing just that-a whore!

    We turn on the t.v. and everything geared toward men specifically includes sex, and a lot of it. (Game of Thrones, a show both my husband and I were looking forward to is essentially PORN, man-whores, and women called whores because they do what the men want them to!) Wrestling and the girls that come up in their little bikinis. The Spike channel, wow, who needs to describe that!? Our boys are being raised to expect sexualization of women, and they don’t deserve respect because they are trying to live up to this “role”. Our girls? They’re being taught that every ounce of their worth is all wound up in just how pretty and sexy they can be. Even downright raunchy! (Anyone remember the colored bracelets girls sported as young as 8-9? That was a scary trend!)

    So where do we begin? What do we do if our very saviours are brandishing this envisioning of what a woman is if she shows too much skin? I understand where he is coming from, the girl is dressed much like one would expect a girl off of say, Jersey Shore, to dress. At the same time, he’s seeing “Teen Mom” flash through his mind. Yes, we need to protect our girls’ integrity and innocence at ALL costs, but the salvation in this society is going to be in how our men see women, because our boys are growing up to become these men!

    What is incredibly sad and humbling is that daddy has left the picture in many households across the U.S. Or, he’s got shelves full of Maxims and Playboys in open view, ignores his family to play the computer/videogames, or watch t.v. while ignoring his wife and children. And, it’s just too easy to let their children do what they want than to police. I went to visit a friend, and her cousin was watching Burlesque. With his 4 and 6 year old boys. And they all whistled and cheered when Christina Auguilera did her strip show. I was embarassed for them! Why!? Why!? Really, answer me: WHY!?!?!

    I pray every night the same prayer: “God please grant me the ability to show my daughter she’s worth so much more than the amount of skin she shows and what she’s willing to do for a man, and God please protect the man you have for her and bring someone into his life that will teach him just how valuable and precious my little girl is, and will tell her that every single day.”

    We need men to step up. Women can’t fix this. We can’t raise our boys to be men with virtue without the worldview of women and girls being altered, and only men can do that. And while he had what seemed to be a great starting point, fresh out of the gate, he perpetuated the problem.

    • Hi Jessica -
      Your response was spot on, and it truthfully gave me goose bumps. Particularly, this: “What do we do if our very saviours are brandishing this envisioning of what a woman is if she shows too much skin?”

      I believe Mr. Granderson’s intentions were good. His vocabulary was not. Thank you so much for your comment.

  14. I can’t reply above for some reason.

    Melissa, in general I agree with your sentiments and I appreciate that you took the time to respond to my questions. I still don’t agree that that Mr. Granderson engaged in any “slut shaming” as you said in your response to me. Per your link above: Slut-shaming, also known as slut-bashing, is the idea of shaming and/or attacking a woman or a girl for being sexual, having one or more sexual partners, acknowledging sexual feelings, and/or acting on sexual feelings. Furthermore, it’s “about the implication that if a woman has sex that traditional society disapproves of, she should feel guilty and inferior”

    He never shamed or attacked these girls for the way they were dressed – he puts the blame pretty squarely on the shoulders of the parents who allow them to wear “sexy” clothing at such a young age. It sounds like what you really want is for him to give some parents a break for allowing their daughters to wear this clothing because we all have to “pick our battles” particularly when they are tweens. Again, while I agree with that concept, I just think this is a battle that *should* be picked if we are going to change this trend. And I think that was precisely his point as well.

    • Not sure why you couldn’t reply above, at any rate, we are still misunderstanding each other. The only thing I am in disagreement with Mr. Granderson over is is vocabulary. Those words in and of themself are slut shaming. “Whore-friendly” and “tramp” is an attack basing a girls’ sexual history and future actions based on how she is dressed. That is also a form of slut shaming.

      I do not ask at all that parents “get a break” for having daugthers that may wear inappropriate clothing. You again put words in my mouth, so to be clear, my statements were:
      1. “How each family determines what is appropriate dress or not is going to depend on the family and the age of the girl.”
      2. “You’ll have to decide where you draw your line.”
      3. “I absolutely think parents need to turn this ship around, send strong messages to marketers and corporations, and teach our daughters how to dress themselves with respect. But we need to do this with grace towards other families. Not all parents are aware of this issue yet, or some are but have no idea what to do about it.”

  15. I think people tend to think of “slut-shaming” (buzzword though it may be, the phenomenon is nothing new) as a specific thing: he wasn’t calling that girl a slut, so therefore that wasn’t what was going on there. We forget, I think, that words like whore, slut, tramp, are not words to be thrown around and applied to anyone you think is showing too much skin. Those words all have extreme negative connotations and using them at all — and not even in the “She’s a whore” sense, but in saying “that skirt makes you look like a whore” or “that little girl is dressed like a tramp, what are her parents thinking” — that use of language, in and of itself, is slut-shaming. It’s easy to think, well, yeah, but she does look like a tramp — but why, specifically? Why is it not ok for a woman to dress like that, or for a little girl (and I’m not arguing that is IS ok) but it’s ok for someone to judge that girl, or that girl’s parents?

    Little girls should not be sexualized, I completely agree on that point. But women shouldn’t be called derogatory names because they chose to dress in a certain way, either, or should be assumed to be morally corrupt because they present themselves as sexually available.

  16. Yet another failure of America’s educational system, obviously. And I’m not talking about how young girls frequently dress inappropriately, because that isn’t the fault of the schools, that fault lies first and foremost on the parents (though I don’t think the companies who manufacture such clothing are blameless, either).

    No, I’m talking about how this whole response is build off a misinterpretation of what Mr. Granderson wrote, which could be avoided by a better understanding of the English language. I’m not generally a big fan of Mr. Granderson’s articles, but this one was absolutely spot-on. Let’s look at the title of this response article: “Did You Just Call My Daughter A Prostitute?” Hmm, let me go back and read his article again… yeah, that’s what I thought. Nowhere in that article did he call anyone a prostitute, or whore, or tramp, or any similar term.

    Instead, he suggests that the girls are dressing LIKE tramps. Incidentally, that particular phrasing most likely came from an editor and not Granderson himself, but that particular point is irrelevant. The point remains, however, that saying girls are dressed LIKE tramps is a completely different thing from saying they are tramps – and the latter is something he most definitely does not do. What he is saying is that there is a way tramps (of whatever age, such as over 18) dress, and that parents are dressing or allowing their girls to be dressed in a similar manner. That’s what “like” means.

    You also take exception to the term “whore-friendly panties”. Again, he doesn’t call girls who wear them whores, but indicates that the design of the panties is such that they would be appropriate for whores. If I were to say that an article of clothing (let’s say a tie, just so we have an example) was appropriate for men, but a woman wanted to wear a tie, that doesn’t make her a man. It means she’s wearing an article of clothing that is generally seen as something men wear. Mr. Granderson is not saying that a girl wearing “whore-friendly panties” is a whore, he’s saying she’s wearing an article of clothing that is generally associated with whores.

    Now, if you want to take exception to the simple use of the terms “tramp” and “whore”, that would be one thing. You list slut, whore, skank, bitch, cunt, stripper, prostitute, tramp and hooker, but of these, only tramp, whore, and prostitute are actually used in Mr. Granderson’s article, and both “tramp” and “prostitute” are used strictly in similes, while “whore” only appears in the reference to “whore-friendly panties”, discussed above. The other terms, which you manage to subtly suggest that he has used, do not appear at all.

    We live in a society that’s becoming exceptionally politically correct, and “sex worker” has the same false ring to it as many obvious euphemisms. That said, of the terms you mentioned, I would agree that most generally shouldn’t be used. If that’s the point you want to make, that’s fine and I have no objections. But please don’t claim Mr. Granderson called your daughter, or any woman, a prostitute. Because he didn’t.

    • Hey Charlie -
      Your arrogant English lesson aside, you are correct in that Granderson does not call anyone’s daughter a prostitute aside from when he says this at the end of the article: “But is getting cool points today worth the harm dressing little girls like prostitutes could cause tomorrow?”

      Semantics, syntax, and pragmatcis. But, it could just be my failed education and limited understanding of this here English.

      • …and yet again, that’s a simile. They are dressing LIKE prostitutes. Nothing there calls them prostitutes. And so he suggests that dressing in such a manner could cause problems down the road? Yeah, I’d say that’s pretty obvious.

        • Natalie Bojesen says:

          Dude, the whole point is that the WORD whore is being used to describe HOW someone is dressed. You could technically be a whore and wear clothing head to foot. What I think everyone here is getting at is that clothing (or lack thereof) does NOT make anyone a whore or LIKE a whore. Ever. End of story. So I guess your one point was right…nobody called anybody’s daughter a prostitute.

          That said…this whole thread amazed me. I went back and forth on the topic myself because I really liked Granderson’s piece. Language is important though and to assume a woman or a girl is a whore (or merely like one) because of her clothing is silly and demeaning. The real issue here is women and girl’s bodies. They are not our own when such judgment is placed upon a bared midriff or an exposed thigh. My daughter is nobody’s property and I am grateful this site is here as a resource for me as I raise her to be a powerful and confident girl.

    • Susan Carney says:

      Actually, he called them tramps. When he said “don’t dress like a tramp” the message is clear that girls and women who dress that way are tramps. I don’t know how you missed that. And frankly, if the little girl in question was wearing an outfit that WOULD have been appropriate on an older girl, then I’m not even sure who he’s talking about, the child or the girl who is dressed age-appropriately.

      • Susan, I think you are assuming too much when you say, “When he said “don’t dress like a tramp” the message is clear that girls and women who dress that way are tramps.”

        Granderson seems to be saying (rightly or wrongly!) that sex workers are known to dress in a particular style and when girls are dressed in this style they physically resemble sex workers (which of course isn’t good, because of the way males will view them, etc etc etc).
        I don’t think he make any suggestion or even hints that the girls are sexually active, let alone for payment!

        Natalie, in reference to “What I think everyone here is getting at is that clothing (or lack thereof) does NOT make anyone a whore or LIKE a whore. Ever. End of story. ”

        I absolutely agree that lack of clothing does NOT make anyone a whore (and for the record, I find the term extremely offensive), but I’m not sure it’s wrong to say that being scantily clad in revealing/suggestive outfits can make a girl look LIKE a sex worker, ie, physically resembling one due to the similar style of clothing.

        (Though one objection I do have is that you can’t generalise to say any group of people ALL dress a particular way, but we’d be kidding ourselves if we didn’t agree there are some items of clothing more often associated with sex workers).

        I am still thinking about whether I think the use of the SIMILE is complicit in sexualising girls (though I realise he was using it for shock value, with an honourable ultimate motive), but I wanted to point out things I am sure about:
        a) I don’t agree Granderson is making suggestions about the girls’ sexuality and sexual practises
        b) I don’t think he is saying ALL women who dress that way are sex trade workers, but rather that many sex trade workers dress that way. (Again, be that assumption right or wrong-that’s a whole different argument:)

        But I am appreciating this discussion! What a great issue to nut out together:)

        • Melissa, on further thought I think I’d like my post deleted until I think further on the issue:) But I can’t work out how to delete it:S
          Could you please delete it for me? Ta:)

          • Sarah -
            Are you sure you want me to delete it? Even if your opinion changes, or you wish to recent an earlier statement, or do a 180 from a previous statement….all of that is part of the conversation and the thought process involved in critical thinking.

            But – if you would still like it deleted I certainly will, I just want to clarify, do you want me to delete the post of yours that I replied to, or the one that was in reply to Susan Carney? I don’t want to remove the wrong statement.

    • AGREE!!!

      applauding. Thank you for this reply. I *am* a mother of 2 young girls, I agreed with the original article, and I have a problem with grammatical issues.

  17. Susan Carney says:

    Slut shaming is a way of putting women in “their place,” pure and simple. It’s a power move. And it denigrates all women. Melissa makes a great point when she points out that there are no equivalent words for men. Ever wonder why that is??? Hmmm… And, does this mean that ANY girl or woman who owns any of this type of clothing is a whore? Commenters who are saying, “Well, they ARE dressed like whores!” seem to be saying exactly that. Even if he never comes right out and says “these girls are whores,” that is exactly what is implied with the way the words are used. There is a way to educate and enlighten with sensitivity and respect.

    • If men walked around with their goodies hanging all over the place, or short shorts or too much make up, you can bet your butt they would have a name… or be called sluts. This is not a gender issue as much as a self respect issue.

      • Susan carney says:

        I see boys with their cracks hanging out because their pants are too low and no one calls them sluts. In fact it is socially acceptable for boys to be promiscuous: that’s why “stud” has a very different meaning than what our culture calls promiscuous women. And I don’t think anyone would object to being told they look like a stud.

  18. Thank you.

  19. Chris Moorhouse says:

    I am hesitant to agree with anything other than to admit that these things are an issue. It’s that hard to have an opinion, particularly as a single father. Everyone has pontificated about nearly everything that matters, but I’d like to offer a couple of points that most discussions miss.

    First, let’s not pretend that all the words and attitudes and so forth that we sit around and argue about mean the same thing to our kids as they do to us. Not long ago, “dork” was slang for “penis”; now, it’s a mild expression that obviously isn’t positive, but wouldn’t shock anyone under thirty and even appears in games and movies aimed at children. ACDC and Guns ‘n’ Roses get played in my local Wal-Mart; contrary to what parents tried to tell us kids twenty years ago, it has not caused us to drink, do drugs, and have orgies in the paper products aisle. Fans of Jersey Shore are discovering that the epithet “Guidos” that an older generation of Italian-Americans so despised is now accepted as a positive term by a substantial number of young viewers. I suppose they just don’t realize how miserable they should be over the use of the word.

    Second, we’re talking about people, not robots. As parents, we cannot just push a button and have kids react the way we want. When you spot, as I have, a teenager changing IN AN ALLEY so that their parents will not see how they dress at school, all you can be certain of is that the child in question has finally realized that they are an individual. Having your child’s respect or attention while at home is NO guarantee of any particular sort of behaviour while your child is away. A good relationship with your child is not the same thing as agreeing with them.

    Finally, I have learned to view some young people’s apparent interest in a career in the sex trade in much the same way I view a desire to be a rock star. Whatever the differences, to a young person, they both appear to be industries filled with beautiful people living in a perpetual party in defiance of authority. In neither industry is apparent the difficulty of attaining the high level of success depicted, the lifestyle difficulties while at that level, or the thousands of lives broken in pursuit of that goal. If anyone should care to point out that being a rock star is a lot more legitimate than working in the sex trade, I’d like to ask them if they think the move from “whore” to “sex trade worker” makes them sound more or less legitimate?

  20. The thing is a lot of us have a stereotyped image of what a slut/whore/sex trader worker/prostitute looks like. This is often the same image that is presented to us on television/movies. Think CSI or Law & Order. Usually a prostitute is female, stands on a corner with revealing clothes and a ton of make up and jewelry. Even without a word being uttered we know this character is a prostitute because of how she is dressed and where she is. Thats not to say that in real life ALL prostitutes stand on street corners in provocative clothing, some wear very nice expensive clothing and attend fancy parties, and some you would never be able to tell them apart from your neighbor, in fact they could be your neighbor. However, we have an image of what a typical prostitute looks like, and Mr. Granderson is only stating that this child look’s like the stereotype of a prostitute that is often depicted in popular media. I think he is just asking people to stop dressing their daughters in a way in which a casting agent for a popular show could pluck our daughters straight from the school yard and put them into the show as a child prostitute without any such wardrobe or makeup change.

  21. Natalie, Susan, Melissa… thank you!!!!

  22. I agree with Denise, and I’m going to go against the grain here and support Mr. Granderson’s description of the scandalously dressed t(w)een set of today. I understand he may have used terms that are too general and insulted some, but he got his point across loud and clear.

    As you probably know, I’ve been on my soapbox about how Hollywood influences our culture’s expectations of how girls should dress, behave, and aspire to be for a while now.

    Why do parents buy this crap for their pre-adolescent girls? Besides trying to find a balance to keep harmony between the child’s demands and parents’ relationship with them, it could also be because ironically, to some, it indicates quite the opposite — status. Don’t buy these skanky clothes and allow your little girls to wear them proudly. If there’s no demand for it, they’ll stop making them.

    • Agree! And I think a lot of adults tend to try and live through their children. Maybe they were over weight kids and their kids aren’t… etc.

      • This is certainly another angle I hadn’t thought about. Parents living through their children isn’t uncommon. You see it in overly-competitive youth sports, school activities, etc. Clothes and material posessions are another way to establish popularity among peers.

  23. I too will go against the grain here are say that I appreciated Mr. Granderson’s column because it used the vocabulary that I would not have used in polite company.

    He called it like it looks in today’s world with today’s stereotypes. Yes, ladies, that is what the rest of us are thinking about a kid with the word “Juicy” plastered across their bum. I don’t care about what the company/brand story is.

  24. We are not going to change the lens they are seen through, period. If they run around is slutty clothing, guess what they will be assumed to be? SLUTS. Sad? Maybe. True? Yes. If you want people to respect you (or your children) don’t dress them in a way that is disrespectful to all who have to see them AND themselves. Its disgusting.

    • Susan carney says:

      That’s the whole point. His use of these words normalizes the idea that it’s ok to make sexual judgements about a child based on clothing. Talk about contributing to the problem. Teach them, don’t shame them.

  25. Have any of you had to shop for training bras yet? I have, and was terrified the only ones they really market for young girls have enough padding for an adult. It took me close to 6 months to find my at the time 10 year old daughter a bra that I was comfortable with her wearing. The panties irritate me; but are never seen by public. The bras draw attention to place that should NEVER have it a child’s chest. We cant hide our children until they are grown; but we can steer them in the right direction. Give them choices so they feel like they are the ones choosing. Find the clothes that are still colorful and up to date; but more reserved for her age. My daughter wanted to wear a shirt that was lower cut because all her friends had one, I told her that the only way she could wear it was if she layered it with one that had a higher neck line. She was happy she got her shirt and I was happy that she was covered. There are ways to go about the clothing issues that will make you as the parent happy and keep our children from being ridiculed for not being up to date. I know alot of people that say well I dont care what the other kids think, but stop and think about what it was like when you were in school. It is our job as parents to protect our children even from themselves and society.

    • Hi Marah -
      I’m not approving of padded bras for little girls, but I have been told that the padding in training bras is really more like cup moulding to hide nipples and to give a smoother like for uneven breast growth, as the girl’s dominant side usually grows faster. I think they are manufactured that way to serve as more of a t-shirt bra. They are padded differently than a Wonderbra, for example.

      Your frustrations are just the kind of thing we talk about a lot here and on the facebook page, so join us! You’ll find a lot of support and tips in raising your daughter: http://www.facebook.com/PigtailPals

      • Yes, I believe that to be true as well. They have been very helpful around here as young girls develop very unevenly. They also tend to protrude more than adults.

  26. I think that folks are becoming too busy mincing words to get the point of his article, and I believe that’s a shame.

    Yes, kids can buy these clothes with their own babysitting money, allowance, etc. But the parents buying these things for their kids need to stop. If the companies creating this clothing stops getting so much money from the sale of this clothing, they’ll stop producing it.

    Unfortunately, sex and money are what make the world go ’round. While the responsibility can’t completely lie on parents’ shoulders, we still must make ourselves responsible and do *what we can* to prevent this type of clothing from getting into our daughters’ dressers and closets.

    One last point – I don’t recall seeing this gentleman calling any young girls tramps or prostitutes. I saw him saying their clothing makes them *look* that way. And I agree 100%.

    • Hi April -
      Thanks for your comment and I agree, with you and Mr. Granderson, parents need to stop buying and stop allowing sexualized and age inappropriate clothing. Corporations need to stop making it in children’s sizes, and marketers need to end their relentless push of it on our children. We talk about that all of the time on this blog.

      The problem is, Mr. Granderson is a journalist, which means words are his profession. He chose to use pejoratives to describe and judge girls based on the *look* of their outfit. The clothing may have been suggestive and certainly age inappropriate, but clothing doesn’t make someone look or act like a tramp, slut, whore, whatever. That is left up to judgemental people.

  27. By calling a little girl “the sexiest girl in the terminal,” Mr. Granderson is engaging in exactly the same sexualization of the child that he’s accusing her parents of. Who, exactly, was objectifying this little girl, I wonder? (Hint: I think it was Mr. Granderson himself.) Aside from that, I think the use of word like “tramp” to describe even a grown woman based on her perceived sexual experience is sexist at its core. At what point to women get to be sexual beings and take charge of their own sexuality without being shamed for it? What does a “tramp” look like? What is his definition of “tramp” ? Because I see it as a shaming, negative way to describe a woman who is sexually active based on her own preferences, outside the narrow confines of what society finds acceptable (except in movies/advertising/popular music, where I guess it’s okay. Or something.) and I object to women being shamed or treated negatively based on who she chooses to have sex with. This article betrayed more about how inappropriately the author views women than it does about how inappropriate any individual parent is for allowing their child to wear clothes he doesn’t approve of.

  28. Charlottean says:

    Are serious that everyone should now call whores ‘sex workers’? Give me a break. It’s THAT kind of PC crap that tells people that being a whore is an OK thing. It’s not. If someone wants to spread their legs and get paid for it, the job title is whore… plain and simple.

    Mr. Gunderson is raising an issue that has been prevalent since before Madonna became popular. Back then, she was intentionally pushing the envelope and shock-factor… and it (and her singing ability) made her a millionaire. Paris Hilton’s whorish behavior (which was quite effectively parodied on South Park) raised the ante’.

    wtf is wrong with our culture that it is now considered OK to have a sex tape? It’s the kind of PC garbage contained in this blog entry that keeps pushing acceptable behavior closer to the gutter.

    • Charlottean -
      I do not condone the use of pejoratives (like ‘whore’) to describe women, whether they are prostitutes or not.

      I do not condone the sex trade industry.

    • By the by, if I were really trying to push acceptable behavior into the gutter with my PC crap and garbage, I would have called them tantric engineers….

      • Charlottean says:

        ‘Tantric engineers’… love it!
        Seriously, though, I just get tired of all of the obfuscation around terms. Whore, prostitute, hooker aren’t SUPPOSED to be nice words… they’re supposed to elicit a bit of shame in the person (not just women) who are selling themselves. Will we next come up with a PC word for slave or slave owner, or are those out of bounds?

        Other than the PC terms, I found your article to be very interesting… particularly since I had just yesterday read the posts on CNN. I liked the fact that Mr.Granderson called out the parents the most, because it’s THEIR money that the kids are usually spending and it’s THEIR house under whose roof the kids are living. Kids might bitch and moan, but they really DO like parental guidance to keep them out of trouble. But it also has to start when the kids are small… and some parents are pathetically incompetent when it comes to consistency.

        I have a daughter… and she does not, and will not, dress like a whore. The MTV culture may tell her it’s OK, but I don’t.

        • ‘Tantric engineer’ cracked me up, too…but like you, I don’t like what it alludes to. I don’t like or approve of the sex trade industry. I also don’t like when society judges, values, stifles, and controls female sexuality.

          I fully, FULLY, agree with you and Mr. Granderson that parents need to say no, that it starts early, that children and how those children dress are the sole responsibility of the parent. No matter how much the little critters bitch and moan.

          I fully, FULLY, agree that little girls, even teen girls, should not dress in sexualized clothing.

          Where I stop is agreeing is when we use degrading and denigrating terms to describe those girls, and place control, judgement, and value on their sexuality. Sexualizaiton and sexuality are not the same thing.

          I have a daughter, too. She’s five. She won’t be dressing in revealing or sexy clothing until she’s away at college and there is nothing I can do about it. Of course, by then, I hoped I’ve raised her with enough self-confidence and respect that she doesn’t feel the need to put her body on display.

        • Robin Baker says:

          When I read his article, it didn’t settle with me well which was surprising because I’m the type of mom that refused to put my daughter in a two piece swimming suit because I don’t really think its appropriate. You nailed it on the head why I felt discomfort with his article.

          I wanted to comment on the idea that terms like whore and prostitute are supposed to be shaming. Yeah…that’s exactly my problem. Who is the real focus of the shame? The women. Not the men. Sure, they have their own special title…Johns. But really lets be honest about it; that term doesn’t produce as much oomph as whore. Interestingly, I’ve seen several people suggest that we can’t blame companies as they are simply making a buck…so why again is it okay to blame and shame sex workers? They are just making a buck after all. Shaming and blaming women is an easy fix, but its certainly not a solution.

  29. I wrote about this myself today, because the whole thing is just ridiculous.

    One of the thing that occurred to me when I was writing my own post (http://greaterthanlapsed.wordpress.com/2011/04/21/lz-granderson-presents-us-with-a-golden-opportunity/) was that all of this sexualization, especially of very young girls, is only setting them up to feel inadequate when they fail to meet the popular beauty standard.

    Push-up bra or no, there are no 7-year-olds that can pass for 17-year-olds. It’s bad enough that adult women have to deal with this crap, but it seems like the age of body policing and shaming just gets pushed younger and younger. It’s sad and tragic.

    In any case, I just wanted to say thanks for doing a better job in your post than I did of covering the issues with the language Granderson used in his piece.

    • Hey there -
      Your post was great, I think you are right on about marketers and how parents should react to much of what is being sold to our kids. And you are absolutely correct in that sexualization does skew our daughters into feeling inadequate they will never measure up to the Beauty Myth – a narrow and limiting definition of who and what is considered beautiful. Examine all of girls toys today: Disney Princess, Tinker Bell and the Fairies, Barbie, Bratz, Moxie Girls, etc….all focus on one depiction of beauty. It all looks the same. And none of it looks like our daughters.

      If you want to learn more about sexualization, here’s a post I wrote that will give you a crash course: http://blog.pigtailpals.com/2010/08/sexualization-in-140-or-less/

      And check out my Blog Roll and Resources page, you’ll find a bunch of books and experts there: http://blog.pigtailpals.com/blog-roll/

  30. Having read your article, but not the original article all I could think of was Edwardian clothing. Women back then wore floor length dresses, sleeves down to the wrists and collars up to their chins. They wore hoop skirts and ballooned sleeves. And what was the point? Wearing hoop skirts and corsets and the puffy shoulders made the waist narrower and the hips look wider. This was done on purpose. Wider hips were said to be better for child birth. And this way of dressing allured to the fact that underneath all of your petticoats you may or may not have such hips. The outward appearance was for the benefit of men, if they could marry a woman who could bear them sons and daughters their family name could continue. They dressed to show the man they would be good for child birth. But no one calls them whores for saying their hips could bear children. No one said those women were tramps for purposely making their waists a more appealing 18 inches. No one called them a prostitute for showing off parts of their bodies that appealed to men (like their tiny waists and child birthing hips). These were women wearing layers and layers and layers of clothing.
    Correct me if I am wrong on any of this information. Some may not find my comment perfectly relevant, but reading this just made me think back to a time of more conservative dress but to today’s standards could be twisted.
    I took a workshop on Edwardian clothing and thought nothing of my answer in reply to “why did they wear such big hoop skirts?”

    • Hi Emily -
      Actually, your comment is brilliant and here’s why: Even in the era of Edwardian clothing, when the majority of women dressed in very similar styles, women were branded sluts/whores if they expressed or acted upon their sexuality in a way that did not fit the controlling and paternalistic views of the time.

      Today women have much wider options for clothing, but are still branded with denigrating terms if they do not fit into a narrow definition of how a “propper woman” should behave or dress. To brand little girls with these terms is shameful.

      I don’t think early promiscuity is great, and I don’t approve of the sex trade industry….but I’d never call anyone a tramp or a whore. Certainly not for the way they are dressed.

  31. Those three words also really bothered me when I read his article, but I wasn’t sure why… thanks for taking the time to write about it!

    Didn’t he just sound like the biggest smarty-pants in that article?

  32. Wow, what a great article! I’m consistently concerned with the ways in which young women dress (I don’t have kids, but I teach college, and so I see what might be called the “end result” of these clothing choices and attitudes.) The women I see often dress provocatively, and I’m not sure how much that translates to their actual behavior. But I do know that they are dressing to be looked at (a lot of them) and the men are looking. (So are the women, as the performative nature of their clothing is both for men and women, but that’s another conversation!)

    I do also agree 100% with the idea that we need to be careful of the language we use. Saying “you look like a whore” means that certain styles of dress = a set behavior (and that behavior is bad). I don’t know why people say this isn’t so. If we said “you look like a CEO!” People would agree that they style is what people who ARE CEOs wear.

    But I will also say this: clothing is a language by which we communicate. I teach in slacks and blouses, or jeans and blouses (or sweaters if the weather permits). The jeans suggest that I’m more casual and laid back that the men and women who teach in suits. This suits me and my style just fine. When I have students (particularly women) who are going to grad school and will be teaching in a college classroom for the first time, I suggest they DO go more formal in their dress. (When I started, I wore suits). Because this will give them more authority. If they wear tiny shorts and a tank top, and they are 23 while their students are 18-22, it will make them look less like an authority figure. (Whether it should or not is a different conversation).

    If I see someone wearing a McDonald’s shirt, I might assume they work for McDonald’s. If I see someone wearing a auto mechanic’s uniform, I will make assume they work for, or are associate with, the mechanic.

    Now, of course most of my female students, if they are dressing in a way suggestive of a sex-trade profession, are likely NOT actually in that profession (though not necessarily. I have had a few students who did work at strip clubs–but interestingly their dress was more conservative than some of their peers!). I guess I’m asking at what point to do we have to acknowledge the performative nature of dress? The “you look like a prostitute” and the “you look like you work for McDonald’s” are similar, but not the same.

    Mind you, I’m talking about adult women (well, college kids), and so it is different than 8 year olds or 10 year olds, or whatever. Just, where do we talk about deliberate performativity?

  33. This is a provocative post. I appreciate your view. It actually led to me changing my original response to Granderson’s article. Thanks.

  34. Vulgarity is pervasive, and too many parents either turn a blind eye or make excuses, like many of the posters here. Alleged singers like Rhianna, Britney, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry writhe and spread their legs in videos aimed at the preteen and teen demographic. Add to that other forms of popular “entertainment” – “16 and Pregnant”, “The Jersey Shore”, “The Kardashians” – and you have a toxic combination of stupidity, crudeness and sex. Mom and Dad (if there’s a dad) shrug.

    There is no shame in anything anymore; anyone can do whatever they wish and no one must “judge” them (I guess “good judgement” is no longer required of us). Screaming profanity into a cell phone at the deli? Hey, that’s cool. Displaying the dragon tattoo on your abdomen at a wedding? Awesome. March through a college campus with the word “slut” scrawled on your arms? You’re totally empowered!

    Your daughter may not actually be an 11th Avenue whore (oops, “sex worker”), but if she dresses like one, don’t be offended when someone leans out of a car window and asks her “How much?”

  35. Hi, it may be a little wierd that a 14 year old boy is commenting on this blog post, and trust me, i feel just as wierd as you do. But i was chosen to do a paper on rating clothes for ages -like movies- so kids wouldnt dress…. inappropriatly. Anyway i just thought that it might be a good idea to pop in this discussion, even though most of this page, and following comments don’t necissarily go with this idea. But I have told my mom, and a few of my friends moms -even girls- and some of them agreed. And to go along with the name calling…. I don’t think Granderson meant it as “That girl is a slutty mess and needs to get new clothes.” i think he meant it as “Whoa, why in the world did this kid’s parents, agree to let her wear these clothes?” thank you

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Though I applaud Granderson’s efforts to raise awareness about the problem of over-sexualization, I found his tactics disturbing. Not just because of his Perv’s Eye View of our girls—which may have been nauseating, but was, I think, valuable to read—Also because of his use of pejorative language like “tramp” and “prostitute” to describe young girls who dress in what he perceives as a sexualized manner. At Pigtail Pals, Melissa explores the dangers of this way of thinking. [...]

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