I first watched MTV in 1999, and have never been the same. On one level, I am grateful, for I was truly naive beforehand, and it provided an ever so marginally watered-down look into the future of media: sex, violence, and any envelope-pushing vessel for shock/entertainment value. I was nine, and tuned in just in time for “Spring Break”, arguably MTV’s most lurid season, showcasing nothing but scantily clad teens being wild, with intermittent music videos of slightly older, more developed women being wild. As someone who had never been exposed to this lifestyle, or sex in general, it was quite shocking, and also undeniably intriguing. On the other hand, I really wish I hadn’t seen anything like this until much later.
I kept the remote control close at hand, and if I heard my parents coming I changed it. It was like a drug, and was undoubtedly more than any child my age (8) should have had access to. Now, I am completely desensitized, but the memory of a buxom woman wearing a white bikini at some beach in Florida will never leave me. It is a part of me, just as the memory of the first time (and only[parents weren’t the strictest]) I was chastised for watching it was. I was watching TRL, a slightly more family friendly show that showcased the top music videos per request of “fans”. Fiona Apple’s “Criminal” was playing, which featured her in very suggestive garb, and had her cavorting in far too sensual of a manner for my mind to handle. I had already been “broken in” at this point, but when my mom saw me watching it, she was shocked, and made me turn it off. The shame of it still resides with me as well, though I have seen much worse.
These are my first conscious memories of the objectification of women in media, music videos especially, and I can say that I did not have a thought to spare for the negative implications of their visual promiscuity. I was on the other end, and while I now realize that what is being done to them is not good for them, or any part of society, I really was too caught up in what they were doing to me (both on the obvious sexual level, and more importantly on the developmental psychological level) to care.
The damage has been done to me, and while I wish it were not so extensive, damage to others in the form of what they consume/are bombarded with, and what people are convinced is normal is now all that matters. So, ultimately, my point is that objectification of women is terrible for women first and foremost, but also has very large societal implications that affect how everyone interacts, and even develop.
Sex sells. It is a fact. It is also a fact that shooting someone can be deadly. We are being pelted with sex bullets. 24/7. And as the envelope for selling sex is pushed further, the ammunition becomes more deadly, and the battlegrounds for the ones holding the guns becomes more dangerous. What will it take to end our sex war?
I know what it takes to end a real global war. A nuke. I couldn’t define a sexual nuclear explosion… Yet. But I know it’s probably coming. And I am afraid, as my mental battleground still bears the craters and bulletholes that Cash Money Millionaires’ “Back That A$$ Up” left on me as a 9-year-old. My only hope is to hide in Kim Kardashian’s bunker.