Why Are We Really Watching That “Single Ladies” Girls Video?
Broadsheet thinks that the collective outcry over the sexy dance moves of the "Single Ladies" girls has the power to restore one's "faith in humanity." "I dare say this is evidence of a vague cultural consensus: Girls deserve to at least have a childhood before being thrust into the unintentional burlesque that passes for adult sexuality," Tracy Clark-Flory writes in a post that's accompanied—naturally—by the latest unearthed oversexed routine from the troupe.
But isn't the impressive public concern over sexualizing young girls outweighed by the fact that most people seem to truly enjoy watching these videos until they go viral—even if they then turn around to condemn the inappropriateness?
As Sady Doyle wrote in this very space, on the Important Cultural Issue of How People Generally Regard Miley Cyrus:
A lot of it was just grown men (and women) being all, “I’m afraid this might turn me on! And I’m scared!” And, yeah, you ought notta be eroticizing the teenagers. But constantly monitoring this one specific female teenager to determine whether she’s inappropriately sexy is, like . . . Not that much less creepy?
I think young women’s sexuality is often put in that place of overtly well-meaning, covertly creepy monitoring. Like, we’re SO OBSESSED with young women not being sexual (which they really usually are) that we constantly evaluate how sexual they are. And then there’s all the teen-eroticizing that takes place ANYWAY, because it’s so taboo. And the result is Britney, America’s #1 Virgin, dancing in a Catholic schoolgirl outfit, and later sort of cracking under the weight of how VERY many contradictions she was expected to represent.
Of course, there's a world of difference between what's deemed culturally appropriate for 17-year-old Cyrus and these 7-year-old dancers. But the monitoring of these girls is no less creepy, and their young age actually makes the fervor over the display even more suspect.
At some point, the outrage over the suggestive costuming and dance moves is just a convenient narrative for us to facilitate the distribution of the video to more gawkers. Somehow, those who had a hand in making the video are either exploited (the dancers) or sick (the parents and choreographers), but everyone who keeps watching the video (and forwarding it, and re-posting it on their blogs) are—what? Performing the valuable service of informing the world what displays are appropriate and inappropriate for young girls to parrot? Please.
I'm not writing this to throw stones—I re-posted the "Single Ladies" video on this blog, and I've watched it more than once. I'm writing it because I know as well as anyone that as much as this is about taking a stand for our nation's girls, it's also about the spectacle of watching a group of 7-year-olds dancing sexy. Somehow, my faith in humanity has not been restored.