Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Girls Need to Be Taught Virginia Is a Much Better Role Model Than Paris Hilton; Feminine Harm: Paris Hilton and Other Stars Have a Negative Influence on Girls, Says the Study, Which Suggests Virginia Woolf as a Better Influence

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Girls Need to Be Taught Virginia Is a Much Better Role Model Than Paris Hilton; Feminine Harm: Paris Hilton and Other Stars Have a Negative Influence on Girls, Says the Study, Which Suggests Virginia Woolf as a Better Influence

Article excerpt

Byline: TIM ROSS

TEENAGE girls should learn feminism at school to overcome the negative influences of celebrities such as Paris Hilton and Kate Moss, a study said today.

Figures such as Virginia Woolf, Suffragettes leader Emmeline Pankhurst and even US cartoon character Lisa Simpson can be positive role models for young women, it suggested.

Researcher Dr Jessica Ringrose, from London's Institute of Education, found that girls increasingly defined themselves by their ability to be sexually attractive to men.

Her findings came amid widespread concern over the sexualisation of childhood through films, teen magazines, and advertising.

Dr Ringrose said: "If you look at the images and representations girls have to identify with, they are primarily defined through their bodies being thin, having fake boobs." The trend is true of "almost all" representations of women such as Britney Spears, Kate Moss and Paris Hilton in magazines and music videos that are central to young girls' social lives, she said.

"It's important for girls to have a forum for discussing these issues so 'feminism' isn't such a dirty word," she added.

Dr Ringrose believes lessons in feminism in schools could help overcome the myth that men and women are now equal.

Most schools see gender equality in terms of exam results, where girls now outshine boys in most subjects, she said. But in the adult world, women are still paid less and face dilemmas trying to balance work and family life. Dr Ringrose also said positive role could help girls resist being sexualised by male desires. "We need to reinvigorate feminism," she said.

Her research, reported in the Times Educational Supplement, involved a series of interviews with teenage girls to study their social habits. She found that sexualised language was common.

Dr Ringrose analysed comments posted by girls on social networking sites such as Bebo.

Girls frequently defined their desirability by their willingness to meet men's needs. …

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