The fallout of Britney’s sexuality

Britney’s “Baby One More Time” video sealed her sexuality.

Britney Spears’ new album, “Femme Fatale,” debuts this week. Looking back, author Peggy Orenstein examines the long-lasting — and damaging — effects of the “Girl Power” pop star’s sexuality.

In your new book, “Cinderella Ate My Daughter,” you write about how Disney princess culture has altered your little girl’s view of sexuality. It reminded me of Britney Spears, when she debuted in a schoolgirl outfit posing suggestively.

Yes, she set a template for a lot of the confusion that came after and was ironically a direct outgrowth of the Girl Power movement — she had an impact on the way Girl Power was commodified and changed. On the one hand, she was a breakthrough because she was a girl who was a star for girls, as opposed to, say, David Cassidy or Bobby Sherman or the Jonas Brothers today. But as such, she had this whole different approach. She was at once selling chastity and sex and combining them in this really weird way.

And she was doing this for really little girls when she started.

It’s hard to remember now, but one of her central fan bases was 6-year-old girls, who would go to her concerts and scream and shout. She always talked about being a virgin. And she’d say, if you see me as a Lolita, that’s your problem. But everything she did completely contradicted that. It’s this weird thing where she was sexualizing innocence and fetishizing it. So it was an ultimately incredibly disempowering stance for girls to see.

And what’s been the fallout all these years later?

The culture has taken up that message. It plays into the diva culture of little girls right now, that accelerated makeup and hot dance moves, with Miley Cyrus and the like. I want to be clear: I don’t come at this from a perspective to be negative about sexuality. It’s just that when little girls have inappropriate sexuality — however it’s imposed, by pop culture or adults they love — they don’t understand it. The risk is that they never connect it and sexiness becomes a performance for them rather than something that involves intimacy. Instead they see sexiness as something they do for the pleasure and entertainment for others. As if self-objectification was a rite of passage.

You see that today: Young girls “sext” naked photos of themselves to boyfriends.

With sexting, there’s also an issue of sexual entitlement. Girls are feeling like they have to perform the idea that they’re comfortable with their sexuality. And you have to wonder, what is it that they’re getting? They don’t have pleasure or control. What is the reality of what that act gives them? It’s not anything healthy.

So what are parents supposed to do?

First, it’s about limiting their access to media and such, when they’re really little. And also trying to expand their ideas of who they are and what they can be, that’s not linked constantly to playing at pretty or sassy (which is sexy with training wheels). Educate them and yourself.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

California passes 'yes-means-yes' campus sexual assault bill

Californian lawmakers passed a law on Thursday requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on…

National

Syrian refugees top 3 million, half of all…

By Stephanie NebehayGENEVA (Reuters) - Three million Syrian refugees will have registered in neighboring countries as of Friday, but many remain trapped by the advance…

International

North Korean leader's money manager defects in Russia:…

A senior North Korean banking official who managed money for leader Kim Jong Un has defected in Russia and was seeking asylum in a third country, a South Korean newspaper…

Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 29,…

The Department of Transportation and NYPD said there may be residual delays near all of the street closures on August 29, 31 and 31. Several streets and avenues will be…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

Movies

Criterion's new Jacques Demy box mixes the light…

Jacques Demy, the most effervescent of French New Wave filmmakers, gets a Criterion box all to himself, with classics like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."

Entertainment

Comedian Joan Rivers, 81, rushed to New York…

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Acerbic comedian and fashion critic Joan Rivers was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Thursday after she reportedly…

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…