Up a Pole or Draw a Line in the Sand …Teen Girl Choices in a Changing Culture … or Not
Madonna says when she was criticized by a famous feminist as someone who objectifies women. She responded by saying: ‘If you are a feminist, you don’t have sexuality, you deny it. I am a different kind of feminist; I am a bad feminist.’ Madonna.
A parent asked me recently about her daughter, “Do you think that social media is like going to the mall to hang out … she will shake it off as she grow older, right?
I wish I could so believe that the adolescent brain will survive its own circuitry messages based on materialism, hyper sexuality, ego worship, and adult role-play that will hopefully develop into more logical, deductive thinking skills.
How does the adolescent brain beget information?
The learning process cannot be relegated to the mall or cellphones as singular acts soon enough forgotten. Our brain creates a mental map of its environment with triggers for learning from sensory inputs to cognitive associations. It builds networks of perceptions, facts and contexts, encodes memories and habits, where breaking fixed assumptions and routines is hard to reset.
What are neuronal pathways? (The Brain from Top to Bottom)
Neural circuits are composed of a number of neurons (nerve cells) that communicate with one another through special junctions called synapses.
Neuroscientists and psychologists explain how neuronal connections are physically wired from your actions and emotions based on what you do repeatedly; both good and bad, which are strengthened with repetition. So what do you think about how many hours teen girls spend on social media or their choice of Selfies to get the most responses?
Therefore, if you want to change how you think or act, you need clear steps to break out of the habit, to experience and stimulate different neuronal pathways. So, what are the different steps that teen girls would be willing to take to adapt to other activities especially in this modern celebrity infused environment?
Most people understand the brain has an amazing adaptive quality known as neuroplasticity that persists over a lifetime. Teenagers will undoubtedly change as they mature, intact with long term memories and new explorations. But the fearful question is based on what current criteria for long-term neuronal composites?
How will the current environment help or hinder them?
Last year, at least 100 million people witnessed the Superbowl Pepsi Half-time Show with very talented singers and dancers with some lusty performers who were 40 years old and older. The one male singer strode around proudly, appearing to be dressed from neck to toes in a silver trench coat, baggy pants with even a helmet to cover his head. The women had free flowing hair and dressed in skimpy outfits flouncing a tableau of every kind of sexually suggestive movement imaginable. One actually climbed a pole and performed a style of stripper pole dance with the briefest thong visible in a costume.
So, here are four questions:
Is this sexualized image of gyrating and twerking women a matter for only one night’s entertainment or is it setting icons?
Or is this an acceptable common social landscape and modeling for our young teen girls to copycat their idols for public approval?
Or is this for young teen boys viewing such female extravaganza as a desirable epitome of womanhood, worthy to emulate in a mate?
Or is there any kind of push-back from social norms, or does it even matter that we may have crossed the line to no-return to civility?
Why has our cultural narrative changed so much?
It seems our cultural norms are normalizing this female objectification with accolades for this kind of performance. Overt sexual displays by beautiful women have nothing to do with character over time for mutual affirmation. Thoughts, feelings, or relationships afforded to love are now manifested on very popular reality TV shows with pretty young women finding their idealized husband line-ups, a cattle call, of handsome, rich eligible bachelors or one night playboys on the beach. At one time, love was based on the right to courtship, trust and the test of time where family values could be nurtured.
The silent majority have experience, insight and wisdom but may be intimidated or anxious not to be overwhelmed by mass media. Reality is twisted to suit the influencers when untruths are more important than truth.
I’m not sure it’s easy for teen girls to just “shake it off,” in a changing culture where celebrations of female sexuality can be viewed as relative to bar scenes or porn videos where lonely men and prepubescent males go to watch strippers to satisfy their fantasies along with the thread of misogyny. Girls can also learn to work a pole if celebrities flaunt it.
The latest teen girl pop sensation is described as having a “gothic-horror aesthetic” dressed in a canvas sack whose music represents the Gen-Z generation without gender defining her image and music crying for privacy with anxiety and apathy. Recently, a Gen-Zer, raised on social media, states on a TV interview she sees nothing wrong with spending money on plastic surgery “if it makes you look and feel good.”
And, along the way, new research continues to stream in with studies that now are using MIR technology to measure online responses with long-term studies now evaluating what happens after a number of years of exposure in this grand social experiment.
When Social Media is Really Problematic for Adolescents (New York Times 2019 06/03)
Time to draw a line in the sand but how?
On one side, are our social basic norms to stay healthy and moral, democratic with trust and consensus, smart with introspection versus distraction, where teen girls have time to create their independent roles into womanhood and motherhood without imposition. On the other side, there will continue to be the influencers with bully pulpits, the wolves in sheep clothing, and the celebrities hanging from stripper poles.
Who will say enough is enough? What superpower force can divert online attention to something more inspiring and meaningful to our society?
When social media can subvert a timeline for young people with wrong choices, my simple solution is for teenagers to learn to respect their one and only timeline.
Why not set up lesson plans to help quantify and qualify Time and how to make responsible choices relative to Past, Present and Future?
Questions and comments are always important. What is your opinion? Has our cultural norms crossed the moral line in the sand? Is Social Media benign or malignant? What tools can young people use to counter this invader and raise their voices for independence?
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EXCERPT: Teen Girl Faces Time in the Sand … a Timely Tale of Social Media Struggles, Regrets and Survival with Superpower Tool: (plus Kindle)
You know how all the great myths about superheroes are about their journeys to overcome problems and teach us morals between right and wrong. Today the real tragedy with young people is how to overcome the huge problems created by a Giant Media Monster; like a Medusa manipulator using her vast army of words and images to twist, to seduce and undermine the ability of people to think critically and freely. It’s like a vast army of fake selfies attacking what’s good and normal.
The great personal tragedy is made worse because most young people do not use their real characters to take offensive action but rather create their own fake Selfies to closely reflect what the Media Monster promotes. These are soldiers on the same side with the same goals which means the Monster wins every time. Like I said before, the Monster has no regret for what it is doing; it will never apologize if you keep liking her artificial ugliness again and again.