While we all scratch our heads and wonder what is happening to our kids, we should pay more attention to what our kids are watching, reading, and surfing to on the internet.
The print version of Teen Vogue shut down in 12/2017, but the online site remained very popular. It’s ranked 13,485 worldwide by Alexa which according to Rank2Traffic (online traffic estimator) gets roughly 3.83 million user sessions per month. Even if it’s not your kids, some of their friends are reading Teen Vogue and telling your kids about it.
Millions of American kids are reading Teen Vogue and those parents who know the content may feel it is putting their daughters at risk.
For example, an alarming article from the aforementioned Teen Vogue was published back in April of this year. The article is titled “Why Sex Work Is Real Work” and was written by Dr. Tlaleng Mofokeng. Here is her bio:
Tlaleng Mofokeng is a founding member and Vice Chairperson of the Sexual and Reproductive Justice Coalition of South Africa (SRJCZA) and an independent consultant in South Africa, the region and globally. Her areas of expertise include advocacy training, clinical care, public health policy and content production for public health communication. She is the South Africa country co-lead for Global Doctors for Choice and Vice-chair of the Soul City institute for Social Justice and Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) boards.
She is published by The Guaradian, Sunday Times, Daily Maverick, Mail and Guardian and presents on Al Jazeera’s “The Cure” medical series and is currently host and associate producer of “Sex Talk with Dr T” a sexual health tv show aired on DSTV.
She is lead consultant for Nalane for Reproductive Justice.
Here is what she wrote for our daughters at Teen Vogue:
The government of Amsterdam, a city known worldwide for its Red Light District, will ban the popular guided tours through that area starting in 2020. The ban stems in part from complaints calling the tours a nuisance that lead to congestion in the narrow canal-side streets. But city officials have also said the ban is out of respect for sex workers. “It is no longer acceptable in this age to see sex workers as a tourist attraction,” city councillor Udo Kock said, according to The Guardian. There’s one problem: Many sex workers are opposing this plan.
Sex work is legal in Amsterdam, but it isn’t in many other places, though some people are working to make it so. In South Africa, where I am based, for instance, sex workers are calling for decriminalization and legal reform. They argue that sex work is work, as affirmed by the International Labor Organization (ILO), a specialized agency of the United Nations. This situation in Amsterdam, and the continued criminalization of sex workers around the world, is yet another example of how we disregard the needs and opinions of the people most impacted by policies. But even more so, it’s another example of how we misunderstand what sex work actually is. I am a doctor, an expert in sexual health, but when you think about it, aren’t I a sex worker? And in some ways, aren’t we all?
The article continues:
So, what exactly is sex work? Not all sex workers engage in penetrative sex, though, undeniably, that is a big part of sex work. Sex-worker services between consenting adults may include companionship, intimacy, nonsexual role playing, dancing, escorting, and stripping. These roles are often pre-determined, and all parties should be comfortable with them. Many workers take on multiple roles with their clients, and some may get more physical while other interactions that may have started off as sexual could evolve into emotional and psychological bonding.
Is this woman insane? If you aren’t teaching your children about sex and its role in their lives, Teen Vogue will be happy to do it for you. The question is do you want them to? The article seems to glorify women in the sex trade. It isn’t a job girls dream of, or should dream of entering.
The NY Post responded to the article by talking to experts.
Studies have shown the average age of women entering the sex trade as trafficking victims is as young as 12 years old.
Law enforcement experts and advocates have told The Post many of those girls continue to be trafficked under the guise of consensual sex work well into adulthood because it’s all they know.
Other former sex industry workers took aim at Mofokeng’s assertion that “not all sex workers engage in penetrative sex” and that their services “may include companionship, intimacy, nonsexual role-playing, dancing, escorting, and stripping,” while relationships with clients could “evolve into emotional and psychological bonding.”
“Can you imagine some 15-year-old talking to a 40-year-old about his so-called family problems while he’s making her give him a blow job?” said Vednita Carter, 65, a prostitution survivor who now runs anti-trafficking organization Breaking Free.
“Wanting to talk about their problems and get a massage isn’t [a john’s] reason for meeting with these young girls. They want one thing: it’s penetration. How are they going to feel when he tells you to get down on your knees and open your mouth?”
The fact that Teen Vogue is no longer in print may be part of the reason it goes wild on its website. Parents can see and hold the magazines their kids read, for some reason they don’t pay as much attention to the websites.
As many of you know, I (Jeff) spent some time earlier in my career, as advertising director of Marvel Comics which appealed to teens, and the publisher Nickelodeon and the Nick GAS (Games and Sports) Magazine both of which were written for tweens. That teen and tween magazine category had very few advertisers who were very nervous about the content they placed their advertising. Parents would complain to advertisers if they felt an ad was running in what they felt was inappropriate content, even in the older teen directed Marvel titles, which is why we split the magazines into different networks. Parents would also complain if they felt the ads were inappropriate and it only to one or two complaints about a major crisis. At Nickelodeon Mag., we ran an advertisement for the Donkey Kong video game. In the ad the Donkey Kong character was holding a banana like a gun, for some reason, some parents complained, not many parents less than a dozen. But in the end, we told Nintendo we couldn’t run that particular advertisement anymore.
Most of the print versions of the tween and teen magazines are gone. Some have become 100% internet, others have disappeared completely. It is up to parents to know what their kids are reading online. If they are comfortable with the articles in Teen Vogue, no problem, if they aren’t comfortable well–then they can either complain to Advance Publications the publisher of Teen Vogue, or they can block the site (at least at home).
Some may say this is a call for censorship–but it’s not. Teen Vogue can still run the articles it wishes, advertisers can still advertise. It is a parent’s job to be a gatekeeper for the media their children consume. And if many parents do not allow that content to reach their children, it means that the market-place is sending them a message. That’s Capitalism.
Most of this post was first seen at DC Clothesline.