The Red Nose…not quite Rudolph. New X-Rated teen dance

Sitting in my hairstylist’s chair discussing the state of girlhood and the double plight of not only mentoring, but raising adolescent /teen girls, our parenting chat took a left turn that left my mouth hanging wide-open. Simply aghast, I sat listening to her hip me to the latest teen dance craze gone viral. It’s called the “Red Nose.”

Now I thought, surely with a name like that it had to be something innocent…you know considering Rudolph playing reindeer games with his red nose self.

Uhn Uhn. No such luck. This has nothing to do with Rudolph. Think more like a red nosed pit bull which is a breed of a dog, which in turn lends to the “doggy-style” inspired dance.

First of all, the fact that teenage girls as young as 13 know anything about “doggy-style” is just too problematic for words. Secondly, that some would be so bold as to record themselves and post videos on YouTube for the world to see all this stank is further proof of just how influenced they are by the ratchetness they see in music videos and reality TV.

Now, I simply refuse to post the videos…and there are plenty out there. But in my opinion it is child pornography. I ain’t going. You’ll have to find them for yourself.

What I will do is encourage you to have conversations with your girls…constantly. Don’t get caught slipping. Ask questions. Listen to their “girl talk” with their friends when you are around them. Monitor their media intake. And most importantly, talk candidly about media messages, find out why she is interested in certain content and how many of her friends share the same interests.

Just last week I conducted a media literacy workshop during the Girls On Fire 2013 Conference hosted by the SouthSide Coalition on Urban Girls (SSCUG), an alliance of girl-serving organizations on the south side of Chicago convened by Demoiselle 2 Femme. In three classes comprised of 45 mostly Black and Latina girls, they shared their top television programs. They were Bad Girls Club; Love and Hip Hop; Real Housewives of Atlanta; Guy Code; and Spongebob (seriously).

When I asked what were the main themes for each; fighting, sex, alcohol consumption, competition, confrontation, and more violence seemed to be common across the board (not as much with Sponge Bob although they broke it down that he and Patrick have disagreements…I was lost. lol)

Still, I shared with them some findings from Children, Media and Race: Media Use Among White, Black, Hispanic and Asian American Children. They were shocked. they felt cheated and angry. They couldn’t understand why some things so accessible to them are intentionally monitored for their white or higher income counterparts. Why no one is standing vigilant over the messages that influence their development and socialization.

It’s true, no amount of advice, wisdom, parental sentry will keep our girls from being exposed to the red-nose nor all its kindred pop-culture funk. They’ll see videos, hear deplorable and degrading music, pore over high-glossed sexist magazines.

Yet if we equip our girls with the tools they’ll need to critically examine those things, while also providing positive alternatives, they will resist the stereotypes and reject media norms that promote bad, self-desructive behavior. More importantly, if we, adult women, set out to BE who/what we say we want our daughters and the girls in our lives to be, the less likely it is for them to use the media as their mirror.

I know it’s heavy stuff raising our baby girls. Here’s a little help for you:

Bring a Girls Like Me Project media literacy workshop to your girls

Common Sense Media provides tip sheets and latest family media research

Watch this powerful documentary with your girls Missrepresentation the film

Mentor a young girl in your city

So please share, had you heard about this Red Nose? Ask your daughters and share their reaction to this new dance. How do you monitor your child’s media intake?

Breakdown Beyonce’s bow down

beyonce-2-600

I’m late. I know. But back during Women’s History Month in March I was sorta pre-occupied with building Black girls’ sense of self-worth and appreciation for Black women’s history when I heard through the Twitterverse that Beyonce, er “Queen Bey,” was a little busy herself making them bow down…and calling them bitches to boot. Oh my.

She offered a sneak release to her upcoming album with the single, Bow Down Bitches/I Been On where she sings, ” I know when you were a little girls you always dreamed of being in my world. Don’t forget it Don’t forget it. Don’t forget it. Bow down bitches. Bow down bitches.”

Hmmm… Well…

When I heard these lyrics I thought perhaps there had been some mistake. Surely this was not ingenious artistry of the grown and mature Mrs. Carter who less than two months before had graciously performed for the inauguration in this nation’s capitol and promptly followed with a commandeering Super Bowl half-time show that not only held the world captive, but was delivered with such an electric force it is rumored that she caused a 30 minute blackout of the stadium.

But so much for dignity and excellence. I guess street cred trumps all of that when you want to silence haters, or force your contemporaries to deem you the “queen.”

No doubt, Beyonce Knowles Carter is an entertainment icon. She will forever be listed in the herstory books as one of the greatest performers in America’s history. A living legend indeed.

In fact, she would have fit perfectly on the legacy wall I created for the Girls Like Me Women’s History Month Pampered Power Talk.

Girls Like Me Project's Women's History Month Pampered Power Talk Legacy Wall

Girls Like Me Project’s Women’s History Month Pampered Power Talk Legacy Wall

This legacy wall included photos of legacy-builders such as Ida B. Wells, Mary McLeod Bethune, Dorothy Height, Ella Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer, Maya Angelou, Shirley Chisholm, Angela Davis, Toni Cade Bambara, Marian Wright-Edelman and Oprah Winfrey.

Powerful women who have been pioneers and set standards of excellence in their respective fields. The legacy wall was a wall of inspiration for little girls who dream of being in the worlds created by the women exhibited.

I try to imagine Mary McLeod Bethune demanding Dorothy Height to bow down. My mind wonders what transformative spirits amongst the ancestors lorded over those behind them with mockery. I mean I am so grateful I have never heard Mother Maya Angelou publicly decry her contemporaries or those little girls like me who were looking up to her with pride and ambition in our eyes.

One has to ask…what is the intention?

Many have come out advocating in defense of Beyonce and her lyrics to this song. Artistic expression and what not.

Yet, I am not a Beyonce advocate…I advocate for those little girls who are dreaming of being in Beyonce’s world. The little girls who believe Beyonce’s world of celebrity, fame and independent wealth are their saving grace, a world away from the poverty and marginalization they face in their own realities. As much as some entertainers would love to believe their music is in some sentry-guarded airwave where children’s access is limited, the reality is children are the majority of those listening to corporate owned-media, the entities through which artists relay their products. The truth of the matter is our girls are looking to us for the tools to help them navigate their real worlds. Like it or not, we (adults) are their models for the appropriate behaviors and response when interacting with other girls/women…our sisters.

I am in awe when I think of the backlash had Bow Down Bitches/I Been On been written and performed by a male artist. Come to think of it, I shudder to know the production team surrounding her during the making of this song was male-centered. What if there had been a circle of creative sisters who could have assisted Mrs. Carter in articulating her stance in a much more uplifting message.

But then again, everyone does not embrace their responsibility to uplift.

Still the girls are dreaming of being in our world…what kind of world are we creating for them?

Am I overreacting…what kind of message do you believe the song sends to girls?