Jewish World Review Sept. 3, 2003 / 6 Elul, 5763

Michael Graham

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Butting heads

http://www.jewishworldreview.com | "The butt crack is the new cleavage, reclaimed to peek seductively from the pants of supermodels and commoners alike."-- Salon.com writer Janelle Brown.

Spend a Saturday at your local mall. Find a comfortable spot allowing a broad expanse of the activities therein. Observe the passing parade for an hour or two. Then tell me how you can possibly dispute this galling fact:

America is run by and for the benefit of teenage boys.

Again and again, I find my own interests and desires as an adult and father pushed aside for the sake of the zit-poppers, tongue-piercers and wannabe hip hoppers who hang out at the multiplex making hits out of The Hulk and — the latest boffo box office — Freddy vs. Jason.

Thanks, dudes. Thanks a lot.

Is there any group of humans whose taste, judgment and intelligence is more suspect than that of teenaged boys? As proof, I urge you to recall yourself as a teen. Now imagine you were in charge of American culture, politics and society.

I will pause a moment while you reach for a strong drink.

They have turned my television into a vast wasteland of wit-dulling reality shows and T&A re-runs. Where pop music once at least made room for acts like Paul Simon and Bruce Springsteen, today's teen is unable to accommodate anything more nuanced than Good Charlotte or Eminem.

My most recent encounter with "America, The 16-Year-Old" was when The Warden (my wife) started looking for back-to-school clothes for our 3rd grade daughter. What she found in the girls' section were belly shirts, spaghetti straps, low rider jeans and something called "mini-minis" — tiny, narrow wraps of fabric which I'm told are skirts but went by a different name when we wore them in high school:

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Sweat bands.

Oh, and just in case we didn't get the fashion statement made by my 8-year-old's wardrobe offerings, the other hot fashion accessory is the T-shirt with cute, elementary school sayings on them like "Sexy" or (my favorite) "Cherry" printed on them. A tight, spaghetti-strap top with "Pink And Hot!" is always a big draw at the swing sets and monkey bars.

You might not agree with blaming teenage boys for the clothes hanging in the women's section of your local mall. But remember that fashion trickles down from older girls of the Britney/Christina generation. They're the ones wearing the "Down2There"-adjustable low-rise jeans with a built-in bungee cord for extra lift..er, "drop."

Avril Lavigne — who through some inexplicable stroke of fate has NOT tongue-kissed Madonna on national television--even considers her plumber's crack to be "like my trademark." On the positive side: While her crack cleavage isn't pretty, it's not as unbearable as her music.

And why, pray tell, are teenage girls in the practice of dressing as though they're expecting a sudden, emergency gynecological exam? To gain the attention and favor of teenage boys. And since — for reasons unexplained — all other women's fashion is designed with an eye on the junior-miss dressing room stall, the social standard for all public appearance is what every 16-year-old boy would like to see when he shows up for school.

Actually, that's not quite true, since a) women are still wearing clothing of some kind and b) none of the low-rider jeans come with free beer dispensers.

What irks even more is, not only do these dopey teens control the clothes, but they also control the conversation about them. When I want to raise the topic of "Junior Sluts" back-to-school fashions on my radio show, my co-workers roll their eyes and call me "gramps." They're afraid the conversation will sound "old," that the only people who would complain about such things are geezers who long for a return to chastity belts and single-sex education.

It's the tyranny of youth: They're young, dumb and full of commercial power. And since the only question considered worth asking in America is "Will it sell?," teenage boys rule.

I'd still like to ask, anyway: Whose interest is it in (other than teenage boys) for a society to have its young girls portrayed as objects of sexual interest?

I mention my young daughter because it's more shocking, but in fact it's the 13-year-old in the same outfit that creates more danger. Humans are sexual creatures and teenage sexuality is one of the most powerful forces in nature, second only to its close companion, gross stupidity. Tell me again who wins by whipping up these already intense feelings at every turn?

So why aren't feminist groups screaming about this objectification of girls? Why isn't NOW marching outside fashion shows and Saks Fifth Avenue?

For the same reason so-called feminists never complain about strip clubs, bordellos or presidents from the state of Arkansas — they've bought the notion that sex is almost never wrong and grown-ups who attempt to uphold any standards of sexual behavior are almost never right.

And behind every good feminist is an opportunistic teenager, shouting, "You go, girls!" The idea that all moral judgments are suspect is music to their multi-pierced ears.

But to us fathers of future teenage girls, it sounds like a disaster.

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JWR contributor Michael Graham is a talk show host and author of the highly acclaimed "Redneck Nation: How the South Really Won the War." To comment, please click here.

Up

The sweet and down load
07/15/03: Keep your eyes on the lies
07/08/03: ‘LIBERIALS’
07/01/03: Our Strom
06/24/03: Like white on Rice
06/20/03: Security begins at home
06/16/03: DEAR HIL—
06/11/03: Madame Hillary's Lessons for Young Ladies
06/03/03: War games
05/28/03: A few small reparations
05/22/03: Springtime for Hitler?

© 2003, Michael Graham