Teenage girls and Rihanna: fledgling action plan

The other day, Mr Expression and I were talking about something (must have been important) and I idly switched on a music channel, thinking this was a good idea as my 4 year old loves music.

What I saw was Rihanna doing this:

Teenagers and Rihanna's gyrating: fledgling action plan
Ok she wasn’t really doing that. She was doing something like this:

Teenagers and Rihanna's gyrating: fledgling action plan
And possibly a bit of this:

Teenagers and Rihanna's gyrating: fledgling action plan
Obviously I turned this utter nonsense off immediately, not wanting my lovely 4 year old girl’s head filled with gyrating banal claptrap.

She wasn’t bothered in the slightest. She asked for Hercules instead (current favourite film).

It did get me thinking, however – what am I going to do when/if she wants to watch this stuff? When she has access to the Internet that she controls, even a TV in her room (the horror- but I think I had one around age 12).

I began to devise a fledgling action plan, with the aim of such a plan being realistic and not too machiavellian. It so far reads something like this:

– When I first see her or my younger daughter viewing music videos which show the above images, make generously disapproving comments whilst still seeming like ‘trendy mum’, such as “I really wish women didn’t feel the need to do that. I mean Rihanna is clearly beautiful and talented as we can all see – there’s absolutely no need for her to wear that REVEALING clothing and dance in such a NEEDLESSLY PROVOCATIVE way.”

– Leave magazine articles about inspirational women (clothed, non-gyrating) all around the house at various ‘hotspots’ (thinking next to fridge, near Mr Expression’s nut jar, adjacent to kettle).

– Cannily encouraging involvement in as many positive activities as possible, thus leaving little time for tv/unnecessary Internet usage. I don’t care what it is – Girl Scouts, chess, basket making, helping old ladies cross the road – as long as there are no gyrators around. Or boys.

– Also encourage geekiness. Shouldn’t be too onerous as Mr Expression works in geeky digital field. Rihanna + geek generally don’t mix = good thing.

– Finally, and most obviously, talk about the issue of women in society with both my daughters and ensure all family members do the same in some shape or form.

– Oh I thought of another one. Talk about female members of our family who have all done pretty well for themselves during their lives – without taking their clothes off to please men/meet perceived societal expectations (well I hope not anyway – that would be news to me!).

I think those actions are a good starting point. Hey maybe I could add a sticker chart in somewhere (maybe not…).

Photo credits: I just googled it. Please don’t sue me.


Working Mum of two, living in Didsbury, Manchester, in a house which breeds washing, mushed up raisins and various toys in the brightest primary colours. Oh, and the odd empty wine glass.

19 thoughts to “Teenage girls and Rihanna: fledgling action plan”

  1. I like your thoughts with this – at some point I’m going to have to start thinking about how women can be inspirational and role models without resorting to gyrating and wearing revealing clothes as well. I think I might fail on trying to be trendy mama though – haven’t managed to be trendy so far in my life and doubt I’ll start now. Quite glad we hopefully have a few more years before I have to start thinking about these kind of things though – good luck in your mission! 🙂 #PoCoLo

  2. Great post, Liz. It’s such a minefield, isn’t it? I’m sometimes tempted to say critical things about women in the public eye in front of my daughters to sort of hint that they’re not my idea of a great example but then I worry that 1) the more they pick up on what mummy thinks are the ‘good examples’ and the ‘bad examples’ won’t I just push them towards the dark, dangerous, forbidden fruit of the ‘bad ones’? and 2) If I criticise other women in front of them will I just teach them that it’s ok to snipe… I love all your ideas about positive activities and leaving around examples of positive role models. At the moment Ally knows the Suffragette song from Mary Poppins off by heart and seems to have a fair grasp of what a Suffragette was. But then even then I worry that I shouldn’t have told her that women didn’t always have the vote because now I’ve planted the idea in her mind that equality isn’t a given. Aarrghh! X

  3. In girl guiding we now have the ‘Girls Can’ badge. We aim to teach our Brownies (I am a leader) about ALL the things young women can do without needing to be Rihanna. My parents brought me up to be accepting of the outside world, but also instilled that you just don’t have to be a celebrity or get naked to have a career. Just be positive, the more you shun the gyrating women, sadly the more likely your children will want that (my opinion- just from what i’ve seen with other friends/parents as I grew up) x

  4. My daughter is nearer the age of a teen so this is something I’m more and more aware of. At the moment I’m still at the stage where I focus on the positive female role models but I’m sure things will change as my daughter progresses through secondary school. #pocolo

  5. Is it really bad that I laughed all the way through this because you said clap-trap? All I could think about was her catching an STI from the random hand in that photo! Also… best photo disclaimer ever!! PS: I seem to recall my dad telling me a story about a woman called Hairy Mary who turned into a yeti because she shaved her legs. (His way of discouraging it I guess). No idea why he told me that – It just made me too afraid to ask for money for my own razors, so I used his razor to shave my legs for years! PAHAHAHA!!

  6. A great post. I think popstarts (intentional misspelling!) have a lot to answer for. Thankfully Grace knows it is wrong. She saw The Saturdays one week talking about how it was all about the music for them and when Grace saw what they were wearing she turned and said ‘actually I think it is all about the short skirts for them. Disgraceful!’ (I may have high fived her!). Thank you for linking to PoCoLo 🙂 x

  7. My eldest is 10 and for a while has been asking about stuff like this- why do adverts have ‘sexy# women on them etc. We tell her that advertisers think this is what people want to see and luckily she is bright enough to know its ridiculous. But you’re right, this stuff is shoved down out throats all the time and its just not on!
    x x

  8. This is a great post. I DO struggle with this now because Emily is 11 and she wants to watch music videos. I mean most of them don’t even have an 18 rating and they are basically soft porn. We manage it by being open and discussing it really. I just let her know that it’s silly and that’s not the best way to get attention, etc.
    It is a nightmare!!! 🙂 x

  9. This is a lovely post. I too will have the issue soon enough with my little lady. My current concern is teaching and talking to our teenage boy about the way girls should be treated and respected in a way that ISN’T portrayed in the videos. Some song lyrics do not help either in showing young impressionable boys how to treat women!! A ongoing discussion that has started with the 14yo son, will move onto the 10yo son and then the 5yo daughter when age appropriate, although Daddy say’s shes not allowed out until shes 30!!!

    Z x

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