Diya’s speech from ‘My Vote My Voice’2015

When I was a kid I was wild and care- free. My interests involved running around and kicking a ball with dad, going on picnics with friends and chattering about favourite cartoon shows. I was innocent and naïve. However, the reality today of most girls and women is completely different.

Ladies and Gentlemen, a very good morning to all.

A 5-year-old girl wearing a T-shirt that reads “Flirt”; the advice given in magazines to pre-adolescent girls on how to get into a relationship- even with older men; and pole dancing DVD kits featuring “sexy dance tracks” for 6 year olds.

I am disturbed by this blatant sexual bombardment of girls by the media and our society.  Young girls are under pressure to conform to an unrealistic image almost everywhere they turn.
But that’s just me talking. Where are the statistics? How big a problem is sexualization of our females? According to Melinda Reist, founding director of Women’s Forum Australia, and I quote- “The problem of premature sexualizing of girls is one of the most serious issues confronting us as a society at the present time. Girls are being turned into sexual objects earlier and earlier.” Unquote.
Decades ago one of the aims of feminism was to end the exploitation of females. However, today feminism has failed women in this area. At some stage, efforts to end the exploitation of women were over taken by the movement for sexual liberalism.
“Liberation” has come to mean a woman’s ability to pole dance, expose herself and avail herself of enhancing cosmetic surgery. However why is it that today we see more harassment, stalking, rape, and more alcohol- fuelled sexual abuse?

There is an unhindered portrayal of sexual messages in the media often defended as freedom of speech. But this barrage of popular culture cannot be justified on “free speech” grounds when it is causing so much damage!
What we are witnessing here is not liberation but oppression. It is not liberating to convey to women that their freedom lies in participating in their own exploitation.

What is almost humorous is the fact that the media utilizes methods to sexualize our females, but also at the same time, promotes a ‘message’ to embrace our inner beauty. Think about it- celebrities encourage us, either through their songs, movies or thoughts, that we all should be comfortable in our own skins and embrace our natural beauty. However these stars are themselves enslaved by a global market to appear flawless all the time. I’m sure I’m not the only one who sees the irony in that.

According Joan Brumberg, author of “The Body Project”: “Girls are unsupported to the excesses of popular culture and to peer pressure. “We are seeing the effects of this premature sexualization in self- destructive behaviours such as drugs, binge drinking and lower academic performance. Prescriptions for drugs to treat depression in young girls increase every year. Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia are at epidemic proportions manifesting in children as young as 8!
Have my thoughts disturbed anybody here today? That was not my intention. This is a reality! Although I may face resistance, being a female, having female friends and family, I have to confront this problem!
We cannot change the past, but we can fight for a better future.

Men must be involved in the process of change. There are many men who share the concern I have raised today. But there are other men- men who commit sexual crimes, who traffic women and girls, men who buy pornography and prostituted women. These are the men who break our societies. As long as attitude of “having a bit of fun” prevails, there is little hope for our girls.
Ultimately, WE NEED new global movement to stand up against corporations, advertisers, the sex industry, the makers of demeaning music clips and Internet sites. We need the same momentum as we’ve seen against global warming and world poverty. We need to empower young women to be resilient and to defend their dignity. They need to be given encouragement to develop their intellects, their deeper inner lives… Ladies and gentlemen, we need to care for our females.

 

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