Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Should you cancel Netflix over the movie "Cuties"?

A trending hashtag this week is #cancelNetflix - a backlash over the French movie "Cuties" which, according to Neflix is "a social commentary against the sexualization of young children.  It's an award-winning film and a powerful story about the pressure young girls face on social media and from society more generally growing up - and we'd encourage anyone who cares about these important issues to watch the movie."  So if you watched it, or saw scenes from it and were disgusted, that's kind of the point.  

Whether you think the film shouldn't have been made because of the exploitation of the actual girls acting in the film, or if you think it shouldn't have been made because people shouldn't be watching the exploitation of girls, I understand your point.  However, it was made to bring up an issue, and it worked.  

The question now is, what will you do about it?  Does canceling your Netflix account actually do anything about the issue itself?  I would venture to say it doesn't.  

So what should you do?  

First of all, get educated on the issue: 

Then, take action:

If you are a parent of a daughter, here are some ideas:
  • Listen to your own words.  Do you praise your daughter for being "cute" or "pretty" more than for being "smart" and "strong"?  She will learn to value what she gets positive attention for.  
  • Watch what they watch.  See the images they see, the videos they watch, and the tiktoks they favorite.  If you see something that concerns you - talk to your child about why.  This really is the first step.  If your daughter is inundated with media that glorifies sexuality, she is likely to move that direction. 
  • Be willing to have the conversation.  Understand that your daughter, if she is on social media, is closely watching her likes and it doesn't take long for her to realize that being 'sexy' gets more likes.  It's a tough balance between not shaming girls for normal feelings and discouraging hypersexuality - try to find the balance.  
  • Find positive role models. Girls like Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousafzai and Simone Biles. Follow A Mighty Girl for resources.  Their website even has a book list for parents wanting to combat the sexualization of girls.  
If you are a parent of a son, be willing to have the same conversation about how girls are praised for their looks over their talents.  

Finally, I'm not sure that vilifying a product that brings attention to an issue rather than vilifying the issue itself is all that helpful.  Rather, it's a distraction from the actual issue.  You can cancel your Netflix account and post about it and feel like you accomplished something.  And maybe collectively it will accomplish something.  I don't know.  But the real work is done in real life - with your daughters and her friends - with the relationships with the girls in your life.  

So go tell a girl she is smart and strong - she probably needs to hear it!  

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