More Than Words- Sexualized Rhetoric in American Media

I just finished a book called Escaping the Devil’s Bedroom by Dawn Herzog Jewel about human trafficking and the sex industry. Jewel explains that there are three levels of demand for victims of commercial sex: 1. the men (and occasional women) who purchase commercial sex acts
2. the profiteers- the traffickers, pimps, brothel owners, and corrupt officials who profit from supplying victims
3. the culture that indirectly creates demand for victims by normalizing prostituation and other forms of commercial sex (glamorizes pimps, stripping, lap dancing, prostitution, porn, etc)

Here is one excerpt that discusses the third level- the part that the media plays in the sexualization of women and girls:

“Increasing examples of the sexualization of girls in the media are evident as access to media becomes more omnipresent and ‘new media’ are created…These sexualized images in advertising, merchandising and the media harm women and girls, in addition to having a negative impact on men and boys.

Lisa points to hip-hop kinds such as Snoop Dog, who has enjoyed huge popularity and visibility in the mainstream media, despite his pornographic music videos. In 2006, the cover of Rolling Stone featured Snoop Dog as ‘America’s Most Loveable Pimp.’ He arrived at the MTV awards three years earlier accompanied by two women on leashes called ‘Delicious’ and ‘Cream’. In the Rolling Stone article he says, ‘If you really a pimp, you should be able to get two b****s to walk on a leash with you down the red carpet and be yo ho’s for the night. And when I did it, it really was pimpin’.’ Corporate America further legitimized Snoop Dog when former Chrysler chairman Lee Iacocca appeared in a TV commercial for Chrysler with him.”

We think words don’t matter. We sing along to lyrics like the following:

“So blow me b**** I don’t rock for cancer/ I rock for the cash and the topless dancers” -Kid Rock

“To all these b****** crawl (crawl)” -Lil’ Jon

“Don’tcha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?” -Pussycat Dolls

“I tell the hos all the time, B**** get in my car.” – 50 Cent

Because we think words don’t matter.

But I think words do matter. Think about what you’re saying. Think about what you’re singing. When you say phrases like “bro’s before ho’s” or “I got all pimped out yesterday,” think about what sort of things you’re promoting, or what sort of messages your sending. When you support, watch, or listen to rappers like Snoop Dog or icons like Hugh Hefner, think about what might be going on behind the scenes.Quit being flippant about your choices and realize that the decisions you make and the words you choose can impact the world around you.

Refuse to be used in the third level of demand for commercial sex.

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