Friday, April 18, 2008


The following is a post from GWP's newest regular, Elizabeth Curtis. I'm forever grateful to E, as we call her, for teaching me the latest tricks of the trade--in blogging, of course. I love E's voice and I bet you will too! And btw, the new season of GossipGirl premieres April 21. - GWP

The Gossip About Those GossipGirl Ads

I was taking a leisurely jaunt in Manhattan when I first came across the controversial GossipGirl ads that have created so much buzz for this CW show. Promoting this TV series based on the popular teen books about an elite prep school, the advertisements I saw were poster-size and plastered all over a construction site. My response? OMFG, for sure. And WTF, too.

Now my reaction to these ads is not negative because I am prudish or "sex-shaming." I'm just struck by how "soft-core" these mainstream images are. Like Ariel Levy, I'm concerned about how "pornified" society seems to be these days. But my take on the consequences of this "pop culture gone wild" is more in line with the views of Jessica Valenti. As Jessica smartly states in her book Full Frontal Feminism,
I think that while the fast-growing focus on sexuality [in popular culture] certainly has the potential to be dangerous for young women, it's not necessarily all bad. What is bad is that young women seem to be confronted with too few choices and too many wagging fingers...We're all trapped by the limiting version of sexuality that's put out there - a sexuality that caters almost exclusively to men.
Jessica goes on to make a call for young women to critically engage with mainstream images promoting an impossible and often unattractive version of female sexuality and to then make informed decisions about their own sexual lives.

I think that the GossipGirl ad campaign is a perfect example of the type of analysis Jessica advocates. What is going on in these ads? Is it just a shameless use of sex to sell an already racy series? Is female pleasure exploited or privileged by featuring an actress's "o-face"? What's up with the social mores contradiction of this television show being marketed to the very same American teenagers who are being taught abstinence-only sex ed. in school? WTF, you know?

Luckily, feminist thinker/scholars like Levy, Valenti, and Kathleen Sweeney, and our very own Girl With Pen are writing about these issues - and bringing more to the conversation than just WTF.

Some Recommended Reads:
-On "raunch" culture: Ariel Levy's Female Chauvinist Pigs
-On feminism and activism today: Jessica Valenti's Full Frontal Feminism
-Girls, girls, girls: Kathleen Sweeney's Maiden USA: Girl Icons Come of Age
-Blogging about girlhood: Patti Binder's What's Good for Girls
-For some female-friendly, sex-positive inspiration: Rachel Krammer Brussel's Dirty Girls: Erotica for Women

Share your recs and takes in the comments section, too!

Cross-posted at A Blog Without a Bicycle

Image Cred

No comments: