The following was originally posted to the email@example.com list in response to observations of girls being harrassed online. I see a much more pervasive problem and posted accordingly:
Nancy, Steve and others originally posted on the phenomenon of girls and women being cyberbullied, and how our society seems to have come full circle with the objectification of women (both online and off). Several possible "solutions" were mentioned and I plan on expanding the topic and taking the discussion to the next level, hence this new thread.
Bratz dolls would never have "flown" in the 60s, now they're de rigeur. I'm sure that Kate Millett is appalled, but probably not surprised, that today's "girl groups" such as "The Pussycat Dolls" are the norm rather than the exception in today's music world. The days of Carol King are long gone I'm afraid. I have a rather simple answer, and a few provocative ideas educators may consider. Corporate America (indeed the entire corporate *world*) knows that sex sells. So does crime. Anything that sells, pervades. The recent "Imus Controversy" shows that a shock jocker who for years stepped over the line of appropriate behavior only gets canned for threatening profits (he was fired four hours after General Motors threatened to pull it's advertising, earlier he was only suspended for his Rutgers' remarks). It's all about da money... and corporations are quick to reduce or eliminate controversy and suppress true dissension.
Infomercials today promise that you could buy a house free and clear for $150 (John Beck) or make thousands by selling stuff through their system (SMC Business Opportunity). Both of those businesses then lure customers into maxing out their credit cards for "coaching." Other infomercial scams do everything they can to pry maximum dollars for minimal results, usually from the very poor and/or very gullible. Do the stations that run these shows care? Where's today's Ralph Nader of truth in advertising?
I entitled this thread "Sex, Drugs, Infomercials, Corporatization & US" for a reason. I believe we're somafied by corporations and live in a thorough drug culture, where we are programmed (yes, through schools, media, etc.) to acquiesce to the status quo, and most importantly, *consume goods*. "Create a Need and Fill It" is the old Kaiser Steel motto. Advertising rules the airwaves, and there are reasons why we have the "Nightly Crime Report" instead of the "Nightly News." Infotainment such as Chris Hansen's "Dateline" two year series on sexual predators does little to keep our kids safe (they don't *ever* interview noted authorities such as Art Wolinsky) or show safe practices, no, they're about the ratings plain and simple. We're programmed in so many ways to accept these things, and often feel completely powerless to instill change.
So what can we (i.e. US) do? As professional educators as a group we entered a profession to help better the world. I for one am targeting the local Fox Station and arguing that they should pull John Beck's infomercial. I'm no Al Sharpton (thankfully), and I am waiting for an adequate response from their program director, who has basically put me off for two weeks. He knows there is no truth in advertising now, he's in the business. He also knows that I am but a single individual (although he also knows that I am about to speak with a rival station about doing a report on that scam. However, that might not go too far because that station runs the SMC scam themselves!). I argue that we *can and should do something* as educators.
Students need to learn critical and skeptical thinking. I'm not sure where these "standards" are within NCLB requirements, but what if teachers started assigning investigative reports for their students. Follow up on what they see on the tube, online, or wherever and *take action*. Whether that action is a local boycott, a letter to the local newspaper editor, a blog, calls to a tv station, it doesn't matter. The point is that there are millions of educators and students who if they became actively involved with their curriculum, and took a proactive project based learning approach to some of these problems (and determining the problems are of course part of the assignment), then yes, we could have an impact.
As long as we sit idly by and bemoan the state of affairs, the status quo will continue its ways and substantive change will not be forthcoming. I believe we as educators have a duty to enhance the thinking of our students (and ourselves) and not let NCLB requirements encumber us in this effort. Whether it's a science class (global warming, world hunger, poverty, pollution), social studies (all of the above and more), English, Math, etc., we can find causes and help students find their own causes to become active participants rather than passive dupes. If we do any less we do a disservice to ourselves in particular, and the world in general.