At 1:39 into the clip, the dance begins. A beautiful woman is embraced by a tall, dark and handsome man. He is behind her, with his head leaning in toward her face, which is accepting of this advance. Their lips are mere inches apart. He is wearing a dark suit, but no one is looking at what he is wearing. She is the centerpiece. The straps of her dress reveal softly rounded shoulders and a plunging neckline that accentuates her feminine curves. It allows little, and yet much, to the imagination.
As the dance proceeds, the passion only intensifies. Her back is left bare by her dress as the two twirl and glide along the floor with grace and beauty. Her muscularly femine legs are glimpsed with every lunging step, and every fanciful turn. They float across the floor until the dance comes to its climactic moment when he lifts her leg, places her foot on his shoulder, then twirls into the last pose. She throws her head back in exhaustion. He clutches her around the waist, keeping her close, lowering his face to her breast.
The beauty of the dance is certain. It was a passionate dance, full of tension and emotion. Their sexuality was at the forefront of every movement, but there is a disturbing twist.
The woman in the dance – the woman with the plunging neckline and sculpted legs… The woman taken on this journey of passion, culminating in a climactic – even orgasmic – collapse of emotion… The woman in this dance is 17 years old.
The woman, or should I say girl, in this video is Shawn Johnson. She is an Olympic champion. She is a beautiful girl. She has spent much of her life training her body, gaining a superb mix of feminine grace and athleticism. She is a role model for young women across the country – someone to aspire to – someone to dream about being. She, unlike so many females in the spotlight, is no waif. She is a picture of health and fitness. She has reached the pinnacle of her career, and shows no sign of slowing down. There is no wonder that she is a front-runner on Season 8 of Dancing With the Stars.
I am disurbed however, by the way in which she is being sexualized. After one of her dances, she was even told by the judge to be “more naughty.” The host at least had the clear-mindedness to say, “she’s 17.” But there is no wonder the judge got caught up in her sexuality, he is just a part of our culture that is doing more and more to sexualize young women. One author calls it “The Lolita Effect.”
I had this discussion recently with some people. One of the men said, “hasn’t this been happening for years? Is this something new? Wasn’t Brooke Shields sexualized when she was young, and Jodi Foster in “Taxi Driver”?”
My response was, “Yes, this has been happening for years. The difference is, back then it was controversial. Now it is being sold by Disney.”
The sexualization of young girls is big business, and it is mainstream big business. Sex is being used to sell young girls and to sell to young girls. Shawn Johnson is lifted up as the ideal American girl – so lets put her in a dress with a plunging neckline and have her simulate a passionate encounter with a man ten years her elder. Miley Cyrus is idolized by millions of young girls, so let’s take off her clothes, drape her in a sheet and take pictures of her.
Some might argue, “Well, that wasn’t her doing that. That was a manipulative photographer that tricked her into posing like that.” Okay, even if I buy that (which I don’t). Then how do you explain this:
In case you can’t tell from the picture, that is Mickey Mouse and Miley Cyrus’ breast about to fall out of her dress, and there are 16 candles on that cake – 16!
Disney corporation pretends it stands for family values and presents its image as pure and ideal, but then gives us Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan and Miley Cyrus and Shawn Johnson’s cleavage on DTWS. A google search of Disney and sex reveals conspiracy theories about subliminal sexual messages embedded in Disney movies.
They are not subliminal. The sexual images are right there in front of our faces – right there in front of the faces of our girls and boys. There is nothing subliminal about Disney and sex.
Why do we let them get away with it? Why do we allow Disney to prostitute our young girls? South Park has one theory. And I tend to agree with them (but not completely). Disney presents an image of purity and virginity while at the same time cramming sexual images down our throats.
Disney is a corporation, and its purpose is to make money. Does that make it evil? No. It makes it a profitable business. Disney exists to make money – nothing more. The way that it makes money is to convince people that it stands for more than that. I, as a consumer, can choose to consume their product or not. My home is not a Disney-free zone. But I assure you that when I do consume their product, I do so with my eyes wide open.