Girl ‘Beauty’ Pageants (aka BabySlutWalks)

Sexualisation of girls/women as main(male)stream entertainment, advertising and pop-culture is continuing to Go-Global with Australia hosting a US-based Toddlers & Tiaras pageant – coinciding with ‘Slutwalks’ for the Bigger Girls. Kiddie-porn has gone main(male)stream, and Baby Girls can proudly join the Big Girls in learning their Slutwalks, in the pornified exploitation of females.

Both are touted by their supporters as empowering, even helpful, for girls/women in developing self-confidence. All in the name of socially accepted gender-role insanity, cultivated by M.A.D (Male Approval Desire). It is not just light kiddie-porn, or what some euphemistically call ‘Lolly (Candy) Porn’, but is also Torture-KiddiePorn : Little Girls Beauty Pageants

The sexualisation of girl-children may always have been with us, but with globalisation it has expanded into multinational corporate paedophilia: “Sexualizing products (and services) being sold specifically for children, and children themselves being presented in images, or directed to act in advertisements, in ways modelled on adult sexual behavior.” (From the anthology: “Getting Real: Challenging the Sexualisation of Children”)

For me, its just another heartbreaking example of acceptable social and political Violence Against the Female Sex, popular everyday ‘normal’ acceptable misogyny, or variations on the theme of the Female Sado-Ritual Syndrome where girls/women are taught to embrace, and even celebrate – sexual, physical and psychological masochism, Self-Harm and Self-Hatred from birth, through such “Harmful Cultural Practices”, and learn to call it empowering, and positive for development of self-esteem. Not that I blame the mothers in the cases of girls, they are long-damaged by the same culture for generations upon generations before them, and are only continuing the “tradition” they were also subjected to.

No, I blame the men who are the ultimate consumers of the beauty and sex industries. It is male consumer demand that creates such industries, and the culture which supports it, all with the currency of Male Approval. Such approval is very important, for female human lives are so often dependent on it.

Liberal/socialist feminist support for such pornification industries, has always confused me. Many liberal/socialist philosophies, are also anti-capitalism, anti-globalisation, anti-racism, critical of agriculture, timber, mining, oil industries etc, environmental degradation, bemoaning neocon economics, the lack of universal healthcare, the exploitation of animals, peoples, races etc — indeed, almost everything – EXCEPT – the global reproductive and sexual slavery/exploitation of females, from cradle to grave.

While negatively impacting on all girls/women, such sexualised beauty multinational industries, crash the heaviest on the most marginalised women, the poorest women, Indigenous women, Black women, Women-of-Colour, developing nation women etc etc etc – ie the women who are the most exploited to death – and with the most to fear. And now, even 1-month old baby girls are being pornified for “harmless fun”. So we find these cultural phenomena for girls and women, promoted primarily in the Western anglo-speaking nations, mostly from groups of women who are in social positions of relative perceived ‘safety’, (ie mostly white, mostly middle-class, mostly well-educated).

With Big-Girl Slutwalks, a kind of ‘Fuck You’ gesture, presumably directed at men, but also a kind-of ‘And Fuck You Too’ directed at the majority of the world’s women, who cannot afford the luxury to ‘play’ with language or dress codes, cannot afford the luxury of choices or agency in such matters, without courting death, by law or by just engaging in their daily realities – as described by Aura in Slutwalk: A Stroll Through White Supremacy, and also by Rebecca in The Ultimate Slut.

As for “solidarity” in protest against Violence-Against-Women, well my understanding is that women have been doing it for decades, (eg Reclaim The Night/Take Back the Night events), and where are the SlutWalkers there? I guess such events do not have enough “fun”, not enough Male Approval, Male Attention, not enough Glitz & Glam.

I can well believe men have been “supportive” of Slutwalks, getting a free eyeful from the world’s media, but no matter how well-meaning the original intentions, no matter how ‘harmless’ and ‘fun’, the baby-girl beauty pageants, the beauty and sex industries are – the Medium-is-The-(Only)-Message that Men-As-Consumers ultimately receive. The attention that such gestures receive, has nothing to do with what women want to say. They will only hear, what they want to hear. They will only see, what they want to see.

Instead of a meaningless Fuck-You gesture ( that men will only see as flirtatious acquiescence of the status-quo, just as happened to previous generations of women who have tried their own versions of Slutwalks, and failed) –
I would rather see women and girls uniting in solidarity, in making a ‘Fuck Off’ gesture.

Anyway, just to end on a more girlfun-positive note :

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19 comments
  1. zeph said:

    Loved the Swimming film, Rain.

  2. Liberal/socialist feminist support for such pornification industries, has always confused me. Many liberal/socialist philosophies, are also anti-capitalism, anti-globalisation, anti-racism, critical of agriculture, timber, mining, oil industries etc, environmental degradation, bemoaning neocon economics, the lack of universal healthcare, the exploitation of animals, peoples, races etc — indeed, almost everything – EXCEPT – the global reproductive and sexual slavery/exploitation of females, from cradle to grave.

    YES. I have no interest in a movement that does not address SEX: physical and/or the act of PIV. It is a glaring omission from liberal political commentary. “Sex” rules our lives, yet it makes so many people uncomfortable to think about what this MEANS! Let alone to SAY it. And to take seriously the *consequences* of SEX to females. No appreciation for the problem means there is no end in sight.

    hey, I said cradle to grave in my post too! Great minds. 🙂 Also, I love swimming.

  3. Oh, and Toddlers and Tiaras is TRULY disturbing. The commercials give me chills. Most of those beauty practices are straight up CHILD ABUSE. The carcinogens alone!!

  4. KatieS said:

    It was extremely sad to see those little girls standing so patiently to be made up and also their mimicking the sexual looks and body language that someone must have taught them. It is sad, worrying, and angering to see it. I’m from a much older generation when nothing like this occurred. As young girls we were able to play and get our clothes dirty, etc. Later, when I reached puberty, my clothing became a kind of prison, meant to turn me into an object. At least I had my childhood as a counterpoint. These young girls are straitjacketed from the youngest ages. It’s so sick.

    I appreciated seeing the second film after that first one. Thank goddess there are some sane people out there, still.

  5. I have never understood how anyone can see these child beauty pageants as anything other than abusive towards these little girls. And yet so many people think it’s “cute.” Or just fun? The pageant video you posted is great. It strips the show of it’s bullshit editing and happy, up beat music and shows pretty much exactly the type of horrible nonsense that goes on in those shows. It especially disturbs me that often times it’s older MEN judging these girls in the pageants and going on about how they can make any 5 year old beautiful or exactly how these still developing girls are supposed to look (which is completely backwards from the way young girls ACTUALLY look). Seriously, just adds a whole other level of creep to the entire ordeal. And the absolute bored looks on the girls’ faces? Just wow.

    I wish I could find a better video but this clip (http://youtu.be/Vd0EJhcunOc) from Little Miss Perfect is just so shocking. It’s so clearly sexual and yet this is healthy for a young girl? Bet the old dude judges really loved it. -_-

    And that swimming video is great. Kinda reminds me of my childhood. Absolutely loved it. 🙂

  6. feministatsea said:

    I must say that when I watch the toddlers and tiara videos I was reminded of the dolls I used to get for my birthday. These little girls were made to look just like those dolls. At one point, when they were being made up and had their hair done, I wondered if they were alive.

    I loved the swimming video. Some months back I watched a documentary about “transgendered” children and the thing is, with children you really can’t see if they are boys or girls. You can’t tell their sex unless you know what their genitals look like. Everything that marks a child as either a boy or girl to the casual observer is merely drag.

  7. This, exactly!

    but also a kind-of ‘And Fuck You Too’ directed at the majority of the world’s women, who cannot afford the luxury to ‘play’ with language or dress codes, cannot afford the luxury of choices or agency in such matters, without courting death, by law or by just engaging in their daily realities

    And context matters!! We live in a rape/porn culture — slut walks and the sickening practice of parading young girls in pageants all happens within a culture that is forever grooming women to be sex objects/tools/toys of men. It’s all about being PIV fuckable. It isn’t possible to make anything but shit for girls and women out of that reality. Would the direct juxtaposition of the male rape walk at Yale (chanting their hatred of women and conflating it with rape with every step) with the media-popularized Slut Walks get through to women that they can’t turn men’s view of them into anything other than the shit it already is?

    Excellent post, Rain.

  8. yes, just the sadness in that little girl’s face at the end.
    And yes, children all look the same until about the ege of 10/11. the ONLY way you can differentiate them is by the length of their hair or colour of their clothes. In Asia where I live parents dress their children more androgynously with boys frequently wearing pink and purple with long-ish hair, and girls with cropped hair. It’s really great UNTIL they reach about 14 then it diverges into a strict masculine/hyper-feminine binary.

  9. rainsinger said:

    Yes, the second video titled “No Bikini (2007)”, certainly struck my mind in very stark contrast in relation to the sexual ‘markers’ of children’s clothing – and as the swimsuit competition in the beauty pageants is one of the 3 hallmark presentations.

    Little Robin, found her own solution to the ludicrous silliness of a bikini (euphemistically called a “two-piece”) on 7-yr old girls. It’s purpose is to serve as a visual sexual ‘marker’, but also highlights its physical limitations, especially in things like sports, swimming, climbing, jumping etc “You”ll have to watch that” – so girls are forced to learn to move their bodies in certain restrictive ways.

  10. FCM said:

    corporate pedophilia — YES. i was at the YMCA today and it was picture day for all the little girls in their dance classes…and i do mean LITTLE girls, they are practically still toddlers but are put into teeny tiny tutus and tights with their little ruffled rear ends showing. i was just thinking “why is it ok for little girls behinds to show from underneath their clothes?” cindy brady was made to do the same thing on the brady bunch when she was very young, and it always struck me as…odd, even as a child. i asked my mom about it and she responded with something normalizing as i recall. anyway, today when the thought crossed my mind it struck me instantly (DUH!) that its because men like looking at little girls behinds, no matter how young they are. and that this is a “value” that drives many decisions, in many contexts, in many places. it IS pedophilia, and it IS corporatized now. its probably the sickest fucking realization i have had to date.

    and i also *loved* the swimming video. about a minute after i realized how amazing it was and what a great story it was, i began seriously wondering if it would be considered kiddie porn in the US, and it made me nervous. but again, this is the world we live in: corporate pedophilia (and mens pedo tendencies as individuals and collectively) is completely fine, but a 7-year old girl in swimming trunks illustrating her humanity in a concrete way that is likely to be profoundly moving and meaningful to women, very probably isnt, in someones mind. and that *someone* is probably making the rules by which we have to abide, or face serious consequences.

    excellent post rain, thank you!

  11. zeph said:

    Ballet dresses are designed as sexual markers, ballet is beautiful but in an excruciating way. Women are tormented by absurd physical requirements and to a lesser extent so are the feminised men. A few times in my life for a laugh I have played the men’s role with a man in the female role, and as soon as you to that you know the object is to make him push his leg a little higher, bend his back a little further, run after him and grab is foot so he hops. Everyone falls about the place laughing, two people who can’t dance are funny anyway, then there are the role reversals.

    Women in gymnastics used to look like women, then they allowed little girls to compete and they were preferred, the gym costumes became higher cut. Olga Korbut, in later life, told how she had been raped by her coach.

  12. Balllet is a feminist nightmare. On the one hand you’ve got foot torture (as Jeffreys points out in B & M), and the hyperfeminity; on the other hand women *are* given their place in this art. I have been wondering about the ethereal beauty of ballet and about how it must stem from female oppression. Ballet has traditionally been an extra option for women, on top of the other two options (wife or whore). If you excelled at ballet you could become a woman of independant means without having ANY PIV. That would be an enormous motivation for women, and indeed it is for women in China today (just like it was in RUssia 20 years ago). Men are *never* going to be able to attain that kind of artistic breakthrough. THat’s why ballet is so extraordinarily beautiful to watch and *nothing* men do, physically, can ever compare to it.

  13. FCM said:

    THat’s why ballet is so extraordinarily beautiful to watch and *nothing* men do, physically, can ever compare to it.

    because women are training and dancing (and developing and contorting and deforming thier bodies) as if thier lives depend on it…because their lives *do* depend on it? and they are willing to do this to perfection, so they can avoid dependance on men and PIV as a survival strategy? now thats interesting.

  14. FCM said:

    also, the pagaent vids made me extraordinarily sad. i find it difficult to wrap my head around the obvious fact that millions of people are probably watching these vids and they *dont* see how sad these girls are, or they dont care. you do start to see the girls as dolls because they look like dolls and they are being treated and “groomed” (staged) like dolls…but then you notice that they are alive. and that they clearly do not like what is happening to them. they are miserable. as soon as they start to disassociate though, that indicator of thier humanity will be gone. and its only a matter of time before they do start disassociating…you can only put up with this kind of shit consciously for so long.

    horrifying. just horrifying.

  15. FCM said:

    OH, and i wanted to say how useful i think your contextualizing is here rain: that the pornified context in which we are all living, where men are pedos and rapists and PIV-entitled pricks, and view women through that lens…PARADING OURSELVES AROUND will not be source of anything liberating, for women or girls, because of that. ever. i think it will behoove us all to remember that, and if anything we are doing starts to resembling a sexualized parading around its probably a really bad thing, and is going to end badly for us. ie. its exactly what they want.

  16. rainsinger said:

    @FCM: Interesting what you said about girl’s behinds always needing to be visible. Girls shorts are designed to be form-fitting, (even at ages that have no “forms” to “fit”) and boys are looser.

    Thing about ballet forms of dance, and netball as a women’s sport, kick-boxing, riding etc – is that female bodies have a lower centre of gravity than males, making the female body, having greater lower body strength, compared to their upper body. Its reversed in males, with their higher centre of gravity, so that upper body strength is greater than lower body.

    I’ve always found it sad, that some of the greatest tortures on women’s bodies, is focussed on the feet and legs – its as if its deliberately crippling our greatest natural strength.

  17. ybawife said:

    How can it be legal to steal childhood in this way? How is it that such practices are not outlawed and named as child abuse?
    How can such ‘trade’ in small girls be so normalised? It is both shocking and grotesque in the extreme. Dyeing and hot tonging their hair, false tans, false eyelashes the whole nine yards and it is legal……

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