Lunchbox/Soapbox: Michelle Smith: From Prim to Poledance: Girls, Sex and Popular Culture
Today’s consumer culture persistently uses girls as icons of sexual attractiveness in advertising, film and television. In the nineteenth century, print media did not dare positively associate girls with sex.
What does the dramatic change in the popular representation of young women mean for how girls are seen? And how does it affect how they see themselves?
We now afford girls the same educational opportunities as boys, yet our popular culture increasingly socialises girls to value themselves not only for their beauty but for their sexual desirability. Did girls fare better in the Victorian era?
Dr Michelle Smith is an ARC postdoctoral fellow in the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne, where she researches nineteenth-century girls’ literature and culture. She is also a regular media commentator on gender in popular culture, especially in relation to childhood.