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Sunday, 28 June 2009

Empowerment vs Exploitation: Are Video Vixens ruining the perception of women?


A few weeks ago, I watched a Dispatches documentary on Channel 4 called Rape in the City. You can still catch it here on 4OD but you only have 12 days left, so hurry. Basically, journalist Sorious Samura was investigating the horrific 'trend' of teenage girls being gang raped by groups of young men and he specifically highlighted that it is becoming more and more common within the black community.

There were many interesting insights revealed by the documentary but what I picked up on was the lack of respect that the young black boys interviewed had for females. Yes, there is the argument that a girl should respect herself first before she expects respect elsewhere - this argument was attributed to the instances where girls initially agree to link a group of guys but then try to back out when they arrive and see 25 guys waiting for them! But there were also instances where rape was used as a form of punishment for snitching or simply because the guys deemed a girl unattractive and wanted to humiliate her. So my question here is when did these young guys lose respect from the female species.

Naturally, Samura brought up the excuse that is used time and time again - music and hip hop's negative portrayal of women is polluting the minds of our youngsters. I am usually one to stand up and argue against this theory - I watch violent films, I listen to hip-hop but I have my own mind and have never acted in a way because a rapper told me to... but is that true? Beyonce had me shaking my booty in the clubs doing the uh-oh dance and Flo-Rida has me dancing provocatively while getting low low low. So can you really say, the things you watch, the music you listen to and the media you expose yourself to doesn't affect your actions and your thoughts, even subconsciously.

What is the feeling about video vixens, glamour models and even the entertainment industry in general where for females especially, sex is how you get ahead. In Hollywood, as an actress your career has a direct correlation to your ranking on Maxim's top 100 Sexiest Women list. Even Beyonce, with her booty shaking and 'make sex with the camera' videos is contributing to the 'male gaze' ideal where women act in a way that makes men want to get physical with them and females want to be the girl that men want to get physical with. Is this culture ruining the way that men see women and therefore the way they respond to them? As previously mentioned, in the words of one of the teens interviewed in the documentary, a guy isn't going to respect a women if she doesn't respect herself. Over the years, females in the entertainment industry who have been described as using their sexuality to promote their career have argued that they are not being exploited at all. That it is a form of empowerment, being sexy is natural and they relish the feeling of making guys succumb to them. But isn't this slightly delusional. Are these women still not submitting themselves to the sexual fantasies of men and therefore not in as much control as they convince themselves to be? With these ideals, then can you blame young men seeing girls as sexual objects first before anything else?

I am not judging here, but putting the thought out there that there is a correlation and that our present culture is to blame for some of the negative things within the community. Some may argue that, its not just the black community, that it's the way the world is, sex sells and even in the days of Marylin Monroe, it was the same. Some females may argue that well if they are getting paid and no-one is forcing them to do anything then what is wrong with that. But clearly something needs to change because I think as the years go by, values that some people may call old fashioned but which I consider to hold together the moral fabric of society, are slowly being unwoven.

And as if it was meant to be, FantasyRide has been invited to 'You're Beautiful, Woman', an event put together by some fabulous ladies including Ronke Adeyemi over at The Musings of Ondo Lady blog. This annual event celebrates black female beauty inside and out and aims to motivate and inspire women to recognise their own self worth in every avenue of their lives. There will be seminars and workshops covering topics such as styling, fashion, natural hair and beauty, relationships, fitness, financial advice and inner beauty. It takes place on Saturday 15 August at Highgate Newton Community Centre. Tickets are only £5 so see the website for more information: Hope to see you there!


Sunday, 7 June 2009

Us 20 year olds have some serious competition...

For years, since time began, an older man dating a younger woman has been since as acceptable - ok underage cases and age gaps of 30 years plus excluded - but even today, seeing a 20 year old female hanging off the arm of a man that looks like her Dad, doesn't do much to *shock* anymore.

But what about when it's the other way round. Cradle snatcher, Mrs Robinson (if you don't know the classic film The Graduate, get to know, it stars Dustin Hoffman) and now a name to top all names 'The Cougar'.

A 'Cougar' in it's traditional sense, is a member of the puma family and is described as "a stalk-and-ambush type predator, one that is territorial". In the year 2009 cougars are more commonly known as Demi Moore, Halle Berry, Madonna and every other woman who is dating a younger man. My first gripe is the fact that these women are called 'predators' - so dramatic and negative - they didn't say that about R Kelly....they called him a paedophile though....ok we'll call it even. In the U.S, there is even a dating show hosted by Vivica A Fox (does ANYONE know what that 'A' stands for?) where about 20 guys have signed up to try and win the heart of a 40 year old divorcee with teenage sons. This so called 'craze' is changing what society considers 'normal' in regards to dating and relationships and soon enough, no one will even bat an eyelid, if not already. Well, I say good for you cougars. You can't help who you are attracted to, if that so happens to be Ashton Kutcher or Nick Cannon and they happen to like you right back, then why not?

It's obvious to see the attraction for the females; a young, virile, fit, chiseled face and body is more than difficult to resist. Not every guy ages like Will Smith people; too much pounded yam, fufu and supermalt can have that six pack looking like a keg in 5 years, 2 if you're really unlucky. However, what is the attraction for younger guys? In all those women magazines (which I don't read by the way, but always seem to find them in my bag for some odd reason) women often say that at 30 and 40, you know yourself more than you do in your 20's and that gives off a confidence that men are attracted to. So 30 really is the new 20 - women are more confident, set in their careers, making that money, living in a place they can call their own and more 'emotionally stable' than the younger version of themselves. OR is it because guys like someone to look after them, so that mothering image is something that they can't help but be drawn to?

Whatever the reason, while this news might be great for us youngins in about 10 years time, what about now? What about finding that boyfriend/hubby within the next couple of years. With this growing 'cougar' trend, we're not only competing with our peers but also with these confident 'superwomen' ready to show guys our a age a thing or two about being with a "real woman". Step up your game ladies, we've got competition!

Guys, could you take a cougar? What are your feelings about older women? Would you go there? What do older women have over us young ones?

Ladies, could YOU take a cougar? Standing stand by side, what would you have over her? Would you date a younger man?

And finally, to you cougars out got any tips?


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