What should we teach kids instead of “stranger danger?”

Tech Mommy explains:

I’ve decided not to teach my daughter about stranger danger.

I’m replacing “Don’t talk to strangers” with “Don’t keep secrets from Mommy and Daddy”. …

I’m replacing “Don’t trust men in vans” with “Trust your instincts.” …

I’m replacing “Don’t tell anyone your name” with “Use the correct name for your body parts.” …

If something doesn’t feel right, I want her to tell me. If one of her friends is being hurt, I want her to tell me. If someone older than her asks her to keep a secret, I want her to tell me.

via LK

Ad Council still blaming victims

The Ad Council has teamed up with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children again to make a new public service announcement about sexting. It is the latest installment in the “Think Before you Post” series, which aims to address online sexual exploitation by telling girls not to post or share images of themselves online. These ads do not instruct men or boys not to exploit people, but rather put the responsibility on girls for preventing their own victimization. The new ad about sexting is no exception:

While the people at the Ad Council and NCMEC haven’t changed this victim-blaming message since the start of the “Think before you post” campaign in 2005, some of the comments on YouTube about the video articulate many important critiques.

1. The idea of the “online predator” diverts our attention from the more mundane (and far more common) forms of child sexual abuse within the home and family circle. The dominant image of the online predator is a caricature:

pedo’s only ever have moustache and glasses (haelvidge1)

2. The ad is targeted only to girls as sext-producers, and offers boys no choice to not forward the image they receive:

But I’m a guy, so surely it’s relevant for me to be able to stop it… I’m confused. What message is this sending guys? That they have no choice but to pass messages on? (JamesFarrkoff)

Femininity Out of Control on the Internet: A Critical Analysis of Media Representations of Gender, Youth, and MySpace.com in International News Discourses

New article in Girlhood Studies by Shayla Thiel-Stern. I can’t wait to get the inter-library loan copy of this, it sounds great:

This article raises issues related to the gendered representation in the print media, particularly English-language newspapers, of girls who use MySpace as foolish innocents who invite sexual predation. It examines the ways in which the stereotyped representation of girls and boys promotes the hegemonic discourses that construct girlhood as a time of helplessness and lack of control, and that blame the technology itself, in this case MySpace, for a multitude of cultural problems. Ultimately, these discourses portray MySpace as a dangerous place where adolescent girls flaunt sexuality, where sexual predators lurk, and where boys commit violence, thus creating and reinforcing a moral panic and extending stereotypes about girls and boys, and about technology.

After so many panicked empirical studies of girls’ risks online, I’m glad that I’m finally starting to see more scholarship on the discourses about the internet, myspace, and sexual predators.