by Mia Fontaine
MTV, youâ€™ve come a long way baby.
In six short years youâ€™ve gone fromÂ pimpinâ€™ rides to pimpinâ€™ girls, starting with the recent premiere ofÂ Skins, a remake of the hit British program by the same name. Immediately labeled â€œthe most dangerous show for teens,â€ by the Parents Television Counsel and lambasted for gratuitous sex and drug use, what was seen as most controversial was the employment of underage actors. Given that the show includes implied fellatio and sexual assault, simulated masturbation and half-naked teens having sex, MTV potentially violated child-pornography laws.
Without minimizing the above accusations, what shocked me, howeverâ€“and should shock everyoneâ€“was the showâ€™s flagrant and unaddressed sexism. And Iâ€™m not talking garden-variety sexism, Iâ€™m talking a show thatâ€™s glaringly sexist in truly alarming ways.
Episode One, for instance, centers around Tonyâ€™s efforts to get his best friend, the virgin Stanley, laid. His brilliant plan? Borderline date rape. In MTV teen lingo, â€œget some girl â€˜recaucuslyÂ spliffed. In her confused state she comes to believe howâ€“momentarily of courseâ€“youâ€™re [Stanley] attractive and then â€¦ she bangs your brains out!â€ For the lucky girl, Tonyâ€™s girlfriend Michelle nominates Cadie, recently released from a psych ward and described on theÂ Skinsâ€™ website as â€œthe most dysfunctional girl ever to attend a high school.â€
Not that Cadie minds. Using sex like wampum, she accepts the plan for Stanley to, â€œdope me into outer space and then bang my brains out.â€ Is it me, or does this smack of prostitution? Sleeping with someone for drugs cuts the cash out of the equation but not the principle. And if Cadie plays the prostitute, Tony and Michelle play her pimps. Worse, because Michelle is another girl, MTV promotes sexism by all genders. By treating Cadie in a stereotypically male wayâ€“a sex objectâ€“the message is sent to girls to objectify other girls for male gratification.
Perhaps Michelleâ€™s willingness to devalue Cadie as a human being shouldnâ€™t surprise us, given her utter subservience to Tony. Despite his belittling nicknaming for herâ€“Nips, because of her â€œfunny nipplesâ€â€“she continues to see him, and when she does weakly protest the name he patronizingly tells her to â€œget used to it kid.â€ As if someone appointedÂ him both nipple expert and sage, able to predict a lifetime of nipple shame. Forget worrying over breast size: Now girls are being taught to scrutinize their nipples as well. (Itâ€™s worth noting that theÂ Skins website describes Michelle as gorgeous and clever. Note to self: MTV defines clever as someone who sleeps with a partner who continuously degrades her).
( To read the entire article click HERE to go to original Ms. Blog posting)