Feminist Group SPARK Seeks to End Sexualization Of Girls

By Jenn D’Imperio

In the wake of the sexed-up GQ photo shoot featuring Dianna Agron and Lea Michele posing provocatively in barely-there clothing, a new feminist movement is launched.

SPARK, which is backed by a massive coalition of women’s groups, plans to “take sexy back” by encouraging young women to critique and protest the way they are portrayed in the media and marketed to by advertisers.

SPARK (Sexualization protest: action, resistance, knowledge) held its kickoff meeting on Friday at Hunter College in New York. Attendees included actress Geena Davis, sex educator Amber Madison, filmmaker and writer Jean Kilbourne, and a slew of young women.

SPARKers assert that they are not anti-sex, but they do reject the standardized notion generally accepted by the masses on what girls need to do to be sexy.

Examples include losing weight, purchasing stilettos, and making out with other girls for male amusement. Kilbourne says: “When the culture offers girls and women only one way to be sexy, it can hardly be considered an authentic choice.”

Conservative-leaning groups such as the Parents Television Council voiced their concerns about the lack of family-friendly material in the Glee cover shoot.

Some even went as far to say that it borders on “pedophilia.” I have to disagree. Both Dianna Agron and Lea Michele are my age (24).

Yes, they do portray high school students on Glee, but in real life they are adults and GQ is an adult magazine. Had they done the same shoot for Teen Vogue or Tiger Beat, then I could understand the outrage.

SPARK claims they have no problem with sexual content – what bothers them is the themes of male dominance, female subservience and the girls posing suggestively in high school attire. I get where they’re coming from but the ideas of male dominance, female subservience, and the “school girl fantasy” are nothing new and not really all that controversial.

Bottom line…sex sells. Always has, always will. Both Dianna and Lea are sexy girls. Why not have the confidence to show that off in a provocative photo shoot if you have the opportunity? Is it really that scandalous to see pretty, famous girls posing suggestively and using the tried and true method of the “sexy school girl” to their advantage?Britney Spears did it for her “Hit Me Baby One More Time” video when she was just sixteen back in 1998.

Dianna Agron apologized on her blog for the GQ spread which I also disagree with. Dianna chose to do a sexy shoot…why should she have to apologize for it? Let us not go back to a world where women are seen and not heard; where a mid-calf hemline is considered salacious. There is absolutely no reason why a woman can’t be smart, successful, and powerful all while towering on top of 8-inch stripper heels.

If the feminist “movement” is only aiming to shoot down degrading images and not slam sexual expression, I’m all for it. Just keep it real, SPARK.

  • Christie

    i think the problem is the fattys. i am a female, i am in sahpe and i like my body. and if i want to dress sexy i do…the only people who seem to have a problem with it are the old, ugly and the fatty. if you dont like yourself do somethign about it, otherwise i think we should encourage women to be confident, and comfortable in their sexualty

  • kevin kristiansen

    women should be more concerned with baking cakes and cookies than anything i think

  • Lyn

    Thanks Dina! SPARK is not anti-sex, it’s anti sexualization and objectification.There’s a difference and the difference matters. Sexualization is linked to depression, lower self-esteem, and eating disorders in girls; healthy sexuality is connected to choice and positive feelings. SPARK is about offering more choices that include ways to be and feel sexy that aren’t about the same old porn images, poses, and expectations. And btw, GQ may be an adult mag and these girls over 21, but the show is wildly popular with tweens and the images are everywhere tween and teen girls are–in stores, on the internet, etc. That argument has no merit in a world where images can go viral almost immediately and where a girl searching online for her fav Glee character will see these first.

  • Moe

    I for one prefer a world where women can be successful while towering from 8″ stilettos. ^_^

  • jennifer

    This shouldnt even be an issue, they are all mid to late 20’s, they are hot let it be!!!!

  • j9

    Maybe if women stopped dressing and acting like wh-ores this wouldnt be happening. The media may be playing it up but the women are jumping right into it feet first. Have some dignity and modesty and respect will naturally follow.

  • r

    Dunno but, GQ and the like magazines have been doing this for the longest. It’s what they do… they sell very, soft core fantasies. Male dominance? It’s a male magazine! As a kid growing up in the 80/90’s, I always thought of Oprah a male-basher. At the time that’s what I perceived her to be. Didn’t help my perception that her audience was predominantly female, but guess what??? I didn’t watch her show because of what I thought her to be.
    Pedophilia is reaching a bit, don’t you think? These are 24 yr old women in school girl clothes. Put an underage girl in the same situation, then there’s a problem. At the end of the day, the women of legal age don’t have to pose to contribute to the magazine if they object in anyway.

  • kirk templer

    Americans are repressed and hypocritical!!

  • Kelly

    I Have Two Young Girls And I Have To Say That This Is Just Another Form Of A Whining Attempt To Censor Things That Make Some Uncomfortable The “School Girl Fantasy” Being Considered Dangerous Is As Stupid As Saying Violent Video Games Cause Kids To Murder If You Don’t Like It Be A Proper Parent And Teach Your Kids Their Values Instead Of Letting Them Get The Idea That Magazines Or Television Are “Real”.

  • sarah sloan

    The author is naive and ignorant about the pressures that young girls and women endure everyday. To say that “the “school girl fantasy” are nothing new and not really all that controversial” is dangerous and does nothing but maintain the status quo of children as sex objects.
    Let me ask you this: how often do you see half naked men dressed up as school boys on the cover of Cosmo?

  • Dina

    You really missed most of the point of the Spark summit, didn’t you? You quoted Jean Kilbourne and then completely contradicted what she said. It’s fine to wear something low cut, it’s fine to wear a short skirt… and it’s fine to have sex. But it’s not fine when the ONLY way that you can be sexy is when you do all those things. The problem with this GQ photoshoot was not that Lea Michele and Dianna Agron were almost naked… the problem was that they were being used as props for a fully clothed male. GQ is a magazine that uses their male “models” very carefully. The point of the male in the image is for male readers to live vicariously through him. So when two naked girls jump on top of a male and kiss him (as seen in these pictures) while he grabs their butts but doesn’t kiss them back, doesn’t show any naked parts of his body, and doesn’t even LOOK at them. What kind of message does this send to male audiences? The point of these images isn’t to look at Lea Michele and Dianna Agron and think they look “sexy.” The point is to look at Corey Monteith and think “I WANT TO BE HIM!” He doesn’t have to do anything… he doesn’t even have to get naked… in order to get girls to “service” him.

    And in terms of pedophilia… the reason it can be borderline pedophilia is not only because they are portraying their Glee characters, high school students, in the shoot. Dianna Agron even stated that they were told to play “heightened” versions of their Glee characters. But they use props associated with high school students (lockers, textbooks, pom poms…) and even props of young children (lollipops, ankle socks…) in order to try to turn on adult men. Should we really be encouraging males in their 30s (the main readers of this magazine) to get turned on by objects relating to young children?? Why not have Dianna Agron and Lea Michele pose in a way that is completely separate from their Glee characters… and having nothing to do with sucking on a lollipop while you stick your butt out of a locker.

    Be sexy. Have sex. Wear as much or as little clothing as you like. But do it while being a human being- not while being an object that has the humanity stripped from you. We need to insure that women have choices.

    The SPARK summit raised the issue of sexualizing females on Halloween. It’s fine to wear a “sexy” costume on Halloween… but what if you don’t want to show off your breasts or wear a mid-thigh high skirt? Well, there aren’t many options for you unless you’re crafty and can sew your own costume. The point is about giving women choices. Letting women define their sexuality and how they express it. You don’t see men being forced to wear naked costumes on Halloween. Men have the option of walking into a costume shop and finding numerous costumes in which they can keep their shirts and pants on… or show some skin if they choose. Women are not afforded that “luxury” of choice.

  • brad

    Oh Great! Now they’re redefining “SPARK”. Just what I did not need.

  • Lynne

    I’d like to see how you’d react if it were your daughter in those photos—“fat and ugly” or not.

  • paige turner

    maybe when women dont need to feel widely validated for their looks and stop hating on women who are celebrated for their sexiness, then some progress can be made. simply hoping to reduce sexiness in media is just treating a symptom. also, anyone in 8 inch heels is trying to make up for something they lack.

  • KPS

    you are either an idiot or a man to be writing this article jenn

  • Widow Maker

    SPARK must be made up mostly of fat and ugly women that nobody would pay attention to or fantasize about.

  • Herbie Raskin

    Feminism is dead – ever since a female republican ran for the presidency!!!

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