A few weeks ago the New York Times posted an article by Peggy Orenstein called, “The Good Girl, Miranda Cosgrove.” If you don’t know Miranda Cosgrove, as the article says
you must not be between ages 2 and 14, the parent of such a child or, possibly, British (nearly 8 percent of England’s population tunes into “iCarly”).
The article is intelligent and often sweet as it dissects the current group of Tween-girl-superstars and the difficult road from child to adult star. Especially, when, like Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, and other Disney stars, these actors represent entire brands, or industries as the article says, they are living, breathing, money factories.
The article primarily questions how these girls are forced to present themselves as role models in ways that are frankly unrealistic, but my mind started wandering. Yes, these girls are meant to represent an unrealistic view of sexuality in order to remain viable “role models” and money sources. But is this a girl’s game?
While the article mentions Justin Bieber, I started to wonder, where are all the boys?
While girl-icons evolve as seamlessly and “genuinely” as possible into sex symbols at neck-breaking speeds, what happens to their male counterparts?
While Justin Bieber hasn’t quite hit 18, and therefore may still be holding off on his complete sexual evolution; I can think of a couple of guys who have, Zack and Cody, and the actors who have made the characters famous, the Sprouse Twins.
This year, Dylan and Cole Sprouse will be turning 19. And while girls their age have immediately gone from goody goodies to sex symbols, when they have turned 18, the Sprouse twins remain within their unrealistically simple sexual identities. In their show, they do date but are rarely sexualized to the degree of any of the aforementioned girls.
So, what’s going on here? It’s not that I want to see the Sprouse boys shirtless and oiled up but, I have to say, I’m curious why they aren’t.
Why do we sexualize girls at such a young age while we let boys remain immature in more ways than one? Is this an issue of how we understand the liminal space that is teenager-hood?
Shows like “Degrassi” and “Skins” have obviously approached this realm differently, but when we look at the mainstream, the most successful, enterprises of Disney and Nickelodeon there is an undeniable truth to this.
I’m not sure what my answer is, but I definitely know that this doesn’t feel right.
I posted this and forgot to respond to the Jezebel article that came to a similar conclusion.
Author, Lux Alptraum, states
It might be part and parcel with the fact that–as a general rule–-our culture views sexual women as objects, and sexual men as subjects; that as girls become sexually aware, they somehow stop being people and start being things.
And I don’t disagree.