Saturday, October 15, 2005

The Horror, The Horror

Grab your fiddles, dearies, Rome is burning.

I've actually read a bit of the newspaper this week and I've been following two stories that have graced the front page of the Metro section of the Washington Post. One story has been going on for a month, the disappearance of a 17 year-old local girl from her college campus. Through these articles, we have learned how a beautiful college freshman disappeared after she was sexiled from her dorm.

It gets worse. Turns out this girl was carrying on with a 38 year-old "amateur photographer." First we are told they had a "personal relationship." He was a "person of interest" in the disappearance of the girl which led to a search of his apartment which uncovered kiddie porn. Nice. A few days later, the paper reports he had a sexual relationship with the girl (big surprise there, right?). A 38 year-old father of two who keeps kiddie porn having sex with a 17 year-old. Real nice. Oh, by the way, in case anyone was wondering, the girl's remains have been found (its not even a body anymore, the grave was too shallow to keep the animals away). Did anyone really think she'd be found alive except for her loved ones who were probably hoping and praying beyond all reason. I cannot tell you how much I hurt for her mother. Your baby is killed. You learn that she was sleeping with a man 21 years older than her who doesn't seem like the nicest of folks. The horror.

I followed this story over the past month, partly because I could relate to the story of a naive freshman making foolish choices -- leaving her dorm at night with only car keys, a cell phone and some cash. I made lots of foolish choices in college and I know many others who did as well. I could also sympathize with the mom, I'm the mother of two young daughters.

In the last few days, there has been another story that has attracted my attention. The local mall opened up a large wing. A Victoria's Secret had a provocative display that provoked many into protesting and demanding it be changed. I guess the mannequins were getting too racy. I am outraged to think of a business trying to use sex to sell its wares! Shocking and horrifying. Imagine.

Well, from what I've read and the newspaper pics, it does look like it was the B&D version of Victoria's Secret and I can definitely understand the outrage of parents who don't want their kids seeing that smut in the local mall where they are allowed to roam unsupervised. I also remember what it was like to be a young woman without kids and I probably would have applauded the sexual freedom it represented.

In the end, its exploitation. Sex sells. It makes lots and lots of money. So, we put a little light B&D mannequin action in the store windows and displays, we get LOTS of free press and attention over the controversy, we change the display and, well, its no biggie, right?

As a teen, I roamed the mall unsupervised. I would have seen the display and thought -- 'you go, girl! You celebrate your sexuality and do what you want! More power to you.' Of course, I'd be talking to a bunch of mannequins. Then, maybe, I'd go off to college and see nothing wrong with dating a 38 year-old who likes to take pictures of me. I'm young! I'm beautiful! Here is a man 21 years older than me who thinks I'm interesting and wants to be with me! I'm awesome! I'm free to do as I please. [update: actually, I wouldn't think that. I remember being an 18 year-old college freshman and going on a date with a 31 year-old. He was a grad student, so I knew he was older but when I found out how old he was all I could think of was "how can he legitmately find me interesting?" He seemed like a nice guy, I met him at church. After that, I decided to skip church and find my dates at fraternity parties. That wasn't the best plan, either.]

I think I've seen it suggested in feminist literature that mannequins can been seen as representations of dead women.

Oh well, these issues are for another day. My girls are so young, so far away from such concerns. I'll go to the mall but avert my eyes from Vickie's House of B&D. I'll just take my little girls over to Club Libby Lu. There, they can be little girls and dress up in black sequins, bare their midriffs, and shake their small bodies to the music while dancing in the store front for passersby to watch. Thats an innocent celebration of girlhood, no? Maybe I'll even take their pictures.

Fiddle lessons, anyone?

UPDATE: for a post about the look and feel of the aforementioned mall, go read Rob's post.


david said...

Thanks for your comments on sex, exploitation, pornography. You present the concerns of a mother, you present the position of classical feminism, but you maange to convey the complexity of the situation rather than simply but it down to a its-my-way-or-the-highway kind of thing.

clanlally said... would have had an anneuryism (sp?) at the Springsteen show. Guy in front of us...late 40s early 50s...with someone that was clearly his girlfriend....early 20s if she was even that. It was, in a word, perverse. Can I get the bondage gear if I dont have to look at the teenage girls with their guts hanging over their hiphuggers?

Hey...I dont show my gut. :)