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What “Glee” Has to do with SOLD

October 22, 2010

News Article


Don’t get us wrong.  We love FOX’s Glee as much as the next person willing to admit it.  But they haven’t been all over the news for the best reasons lately.  The latest issue of men’s GQ magazine features Glee‘s main actresses, Lea Michele and Dianna Agron, as high school students photographed in extremely suggestive poses.  These Glee characters are not posing provocatively in a forest or at a party–they are posing as “heightened versions of their [high school] characters,” according to Agron, in high school uniforms at high school lockers, classrooms, libraries, and gym class.

Interestingly enough, Lea Michele admitted to The Huffington Post that she wasn’t sure “how they got me to do half the stuff I did.”  Dianna Agron posted about it on her blog, saying GQ had asked them to play “Hit My Baby One More Time” versions of their characters and, “at the time, it wasn’t my favorite idea, but I did not walk away.”  She was right on when she says they are not the first in “the land of Madonna, Britney, Miley, Gossip Girl, [and] other public figures and shows that have pushed the envelope and challenged the levels of comfort in their viewers and fans.”

We’re not pointing fingers at these young actresses or GQ or FOX or the implausibility of how many song/dance numbers those hard-working glee club kids learn each week.  (Seriously, how do they do that?) But we think it is important to take a moment to consider that the sexualization of women, especially young girls, is a significant factor in American culture.  And a strong case could be made that accepting young girls as sexual objects contributes to the demand for sex with children everywhere from Bangkok to Toledo, OH.

A recent NPR blog says that the “objections [about the shoot] are right, but for the wrong reasons.”  The issue isn’t that these actresses–who are in their mid-20’s–are being photographed this way in a high school setting.  It’s the step further the shoot takes to add a child-like element to their images:

Yes, of course, part of the reason it’s being done this way is that Agron and Michele play high-school students. That’s why the lockers, that’s why the cheering, that’s why the pompoms. Certainly, it’s a play on Glee… But that’s not why Lea Michele is sucking on a lollipop. “Lollipop” doesn’t say “high school.” It doesn’t say [Michele’s Glee character] “Rachel Berry.” It says “toddler.” So do the anklets. That imagery isn’t there, I don’t think, to suggest literal childhood, but it is there to suggest figurative childhood: someone who’s sexy because she’s enthusiastic, weak, and pliable — a mental little girl, more than a literal one.

Today, SPARK Summit is taking place in New York to address this very issue.  Hosted by MTV personality Amber Madison (and featuring speaker Geena Davis), SPARK (Sexualization Protest: Action, Resistance, Knowledge) is “designed to push back against the increasingly sexualized images of girlhood in the media and create room for whole girls and healthy sexuality.”  They are doing this by educating and equipping girls ages 14-22 to stand up for themselves and inform adults on how to help.

In Thailand, prevention looks like giving young girls the education and resources to pursue their dreams; otherwise, their lack of options might lead them to the Red Light Districts.  In America, a big part of prevention looks like standing against the sexualization of young girls.  We often say here at SOLD that “prevention isn’t sexy.”  It’s not a dramatic, emotional strategy to fighting trafficking, but it is one that works.  And we’re okay with prevention not being sexy.  Because you know what?  Neither are kids.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Adam 2.0 permalink
    October 22, 2010 7:02 am

    Nice article.

  2. Grete permalink
    October 22, 2010 8:49 am

    Great post, guys! Perfectly written as a conversation starter–hopefully I’ll find a place to be able to discuss the issue with my students sometime this year.


    • October 22, 2010 10:24 am

      That’s so great, Grete! Education really is key to making huge culture changes. Then again, we’re a little biased towards the education strategy. 🙂

  3. October 22, 2010 10:50 am

    Thank you, thank you. In the past 2 weeks I’ve had conversations with three teenage girls. All three were raped between age 8-13. We have to step up and do MORE prevention. I applaud you.


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