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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

watch it: “Little Girls Goin Hard on Single Ladies”


I feel like I saw this in Little Miss Sunshine, except there it was a parody. Or was it Sparkle Motion in Donnie Darko?

Rachel Simmons at Jezebel echoes my feelings about this:

Thrusting your pelvis, crouching seductively and shaking your butt like a stripper are inherently sexual acts. And if their bodies didn’t make the point, the clothing surely did. This wasn’t just dancing – it was erotic dancing.

When it comes to growing up, sexuality is a sacred part of the developing self. While almost all of us experiment sexually, should seven year old girls’ first experiences be quite so explicit and public? It’s one thing to try on your mom’s heels, and it’s quite another to do it for an audience. As a You Tube commenter wrote in the girls’ defense, the kids don’t even know what they’re doing. Exactly – that’s the point and my concern.

Let me be clear: the sexual part isn’t the problem – girls are sexual creatures from the get-go. The problem is that these girls are adopting an expression of sexuality that isn’t really theirs. It’s not discovered or sought out in response to internal desire or curiosity.

Moreover, the dancing introduces girls to an experience of sexuality that is being defined for them by a media conglomerate. It’s a product sold by the constellation of financial interests that stand behind Beyonce. These are hardly people invested in the safe and healthy development of girls’ sexuality. And the girls are a ways off, cognitively and developmentally speaking, from being able to look critically at the media they’re mimicking.

So I’m thinking about these very talented girls, and what it was like to get up on that stage and do that routine. The roar of crowd approval (and the resulting You Tube frenzy) was no doubt a thrilling rush. Was it only about the dancing? If those girls had done a rip-roaring Balanchine suite, would it be viral You Tube material? The attention teaches them a destructive lesson: be sexy and be valued. All at the age when, speaking to GMA, they have lingering baby talk in their voices.

(There’s much more, and I recommend it strongly.)

Oh, and also: The lyrics to that idiotic song make my blood boil.

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  • Kenny


    This is horrendous. I mean… I echo the sentiment that these are talented children, but I couldn’t make myself watch the whole video. I had to stop it.

    I think this is child abuse.

  • hergrace

    Sad sad sad. I commented there, but I’ll say here as well that it’s really a tragedy that these talented little girls are being set up in this way. There’s so much more they could have done. And the parents are in complete denial that they are turning their precious little girls into sexual objects.

    FYI (and I haven’t read it through yet), but there’s a new APA study out on the effects of sexualization on young girls’ psychological development and healthy self-image.
    On sexualization of women/girls and its effect on girls: http://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/girls/report-full.pdf

  • Alli

    That was hard to watch.

    I’m not going to get into the morality of this, because I’m more struck by another revelation I’m experiencing. Is female sexuality really just a visual spectacle? Are we just grinding hips and short shorts? It’s always been in my face, but it’s never really hit me until now. There is nothing an 8-year-old boy can do that can represent male sexuality, right? There’s nothing an 8-year-old boy can do that is the equivalent of what these girls are doing. If anything, this video is a parody of female sexuality: a third grade girl can do things that represent adult female sexuality. That shouldn’t be possible. And yet here we are, upset and disturbed by what we’re watching. As women, our sexuality should be more than just something visual for men to ogle over. But we’re not, and this video reminds us of that fact. Jesus… I’m just a pair of tits and an ass. An 8 year old can be just as sexy as me…. f**k…

  • Alli

    Okay, now that I’ve really thought about it, if an 8 year old boy danced the way Usher does in some of his videos, we’d think he was being overly sexual too. Phew. I really was freaking out for a second there.

  • JoshDM

    One of the worst offenders is this KidsBop music bullshit with “popular” songs sung by children and pre-teens. The CDs are sold on TV and feature such child-friendly songs as “When I think about you, I touch myself”. Sung by children. For an unspecified audience.

  • Sarah

    Bothered as I am by this, I can’t help but think those girls have a future in dancing. I took tap lessons when I was seven and I could barely manage a step-ball-change. That was pretty impressive.

  • Kenny

    Sarah – Bothered as I am by this, I can’t help but think those girls h ave a future in dancing. I took tap lessons when I was seven and I could barely manage a step-ball-change. That was pretty impressive.

    Oh hell yes. My mother is a dance choreographer… over the years, I have seen an absolutely incredible number of dancers, and those girls are legitimately extremely talented. For 7 year olds… yeh, they’ve got a future in dance alright.

    Really, my problem with this is the same as most other people’s. These kids are expressing extreme sexuality without knowing what it means. They’re doing it because they think it’s cool and because the choreographer gave them these steps. The sexuality inherent in the dance is not something they are yet capable of understanding.

    That’s why I think this is a form of abuse… or at the very least, of neglect. Parents have a duty of care, and I think that means allowing them to develop their sexuality in a natural way when their curiosity expresses itself.

  • Hank Graham

    Yes, they are talented girls.

    And the choreographer should be hung.

    I’m not sure what to do about their parents. Was anyone paying any attention to what they were doing in rehearsal? Did any of them object?

    I found this very sad.

  • Bobbi

    It’s hard to believe that any mother would allow her daughter to perform like this. It makes my skin crawl! But as our Lost friend Sawyer says, “You can’t fix stupid.”

  • Dokeo

    And who the hell picked the outfits? If Beyonce had been dressed like that in the video, you could almost stretch to say the girls were just copying it, but there’s not even that slim thread of an excuse.

    There had to have been a number of adults involved in the planning and execution of this number: chorographers, instructors, parents…it astonishes me that not one of them objected enough to make this not happen.

  • Brian

    I cannot even bring myself to click the “play” button. The still alone makes me twitch with rage.

  • MaSch

    I can’t even see the still, and also feel the same as all the others here do.

    Dokeo: Apart from the question “Who the hell picked the outfits”, one could also ask “Who the hell makes those outfits for seven year olds” (if they are the kind of outfits they seem to be from the description of the whole dance thing).

  • Robin

    Alli: But how often /do/ eight year old boys go around dancing sexually compared to eight year old girls? Boys have such a wider range of role models in popular media, and while they face their own body image issues, those pressures aren’t nearly as sexualized as those that target girls.

  • AJP

    If this bothers you, just watch an episode of one of those shows about kiddie beauty pageants. That will make you cry and scream with anger at the same time. Some children have parents who are so irresponsible that they would be better off if they were raised by wolves.

  • I probably shouldn’t even be commenting because I couldn’t bear to watch this, just from the still. However, I have to pass along this disturbing tale from a fellow-mum:
    Not long ago, she had a parent-teacher conference regarding her daughter who was in Grade Five at the time. The teacher suggested that said daughter needed help socializing, perhaps by listening to the same music as her peers. Stuff like the Pussy Cat Dolls.
    “So,” said my friend, being remarkably civil under the circumstances, “You’re suggesting I sexualize my ten-year-old daughter so she can fit in?”

  • markyd

    Like a few others, I can’t even get myself to hit play. I KNOW what that is, and it’s horrifying on so many levels.
    That there are such idiotic parents out there that would get there little girls involved in something like this just baffles me. How friggin’ STUPID can you be?!
    Then we have the simply godawfulness of that song. What a shitty song that is. Makes me sad for America that crap like that gets so popular.
    And Yes, Josh, that Kidz Bop crap is yet another example of how stupid parents can be. What kind of idiot buys this stuff for their kids? Didn’t they research it at ALL? Makes me feel like parent of the millennium compared to these fools.

  • i only got about 1/3 of the way through this, and was sickened. bad enough that grown women are sexualized to a degree that is rage-making but to do this to little girls? especially while our “moral majority” is trying to make sex education (real information) outlawed or forbidden? while the media screams how our society is over sexualized and our children are subject to too much sex. parents and a dance teacher actually paid for and choreographed this kind of thing? when i think about my six year old niece this makes me crazy.

  • Henry

    It makes me similarly crazy to think about my five-year-old son. This kind of stuff makes it very difficult to raise boys who don’t think of women as objects of entertainment, and themselves as emasculated if they don’t enjoy it. Sexualizing little girls like this hurts everyone and benefits no one.

  • “Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion!” – Donnie Darko.

  • Kenny

    My mother, the dance choreographer, just related a story to me which I think is pretty interesting.

    She runs a dance program at a high school.

    One year, a group of 14 year olds requested that she choreograph a version of the cell block tango from Chicago. This is a dance with some very adult themes.

    Anyway.. she said no. The kids were upset. The following year, my mother choreographed an extremely toned down version of the dance for the oldest girls in the school (17-18).

    The younger girls who had asked her the previous year were upset about this.

    Anyway, this year, those girls, as 17 year olds were talking to my mum and said “You remember when we asked you if we could do the cell block tango from Chicago and you said no? Well… we understand why now.”

    Even as young teenagers, most girls don’t understand their sexuality.

  • Adorable, yet unbelievably creepy.

  • misterb

    good for your Mom! It’s not easy to do the right thing when all the pressure goes the other way. If only she’d been asked to choreograph these little girls. It usually only takes one person to talk sense into a group, otherwise mob psychology leads us to do very unwise dances.

  • I remember the Sparkle Motion scene from Donnie Darko, and watching the varied expressions and reactions on the faces of the family as they watched their little girl. Both the mother and older sister looked trapped between shock and wanting to be supportive. I get the feeling neither of them had seen the dance before.

    Actually, I think the Mom went through the entire movie stuck between conflicting reactions to everything. It made her a fun character to watch.

  • nnvee

    This is vile and despicable of all the parents and organizers involved. This is reminiscent of the parents and organizers involved in beauty pageants for children years ago with JonBenet. It is evolving into something far worse with children actually mimicking strippers. All the adults involved should be charged with child endangerment.

    I don’t have a problem with the lyrics to “Single Ladies”. Turns out it is the ultimate break-up song. It’s lyrics amounts to the singer telling her ex-boyfriend to f*ck off. Move along son, you’re done.

    She describes a three year relationship in which he did not step up and ask her to marry him. That seems reasonable after three years. She breaks it off and is now enjoying her “single life”, also reasonable, it literally says that in the song. The message to “Single Ladies”: Don’t sit around and wilt waiting for someone to marry you. Get out and LIVE!!! The lyrics are colloquial and has short cuts but the message is no less empowering.

    Not to mention that Beyonce is not precious about the song. I don’t know of any song of late that has as many imitations and parodies, including Beyonce herself. See for yourself:


  • I didn’t watch the whole video when I saw it on some other site, but I gotta be honest: if you take away the content of the song “Single Ladies” and the outfits, is the dance routine itself really that risque? Maybe in turning it off early I missed some terrible part of it, but the actual dance moves didn’t seem all that provocative.

    To the poster above me: the problem with your definition of “the ultimate break-up song” is the implication that marriage is more important than the relationship. If both parties want to get married, they talk about it, but only society tells you that marriage means anything. As long as both partners are loving and faithful, everything else is unimportant.

  • Marriage means different things to different people. When I was dating my former bride-to-be, I often talked of her as if she was already my wife because we had so many intimate conversations together. But that doesn’t meant that we did everything a husband and wife did. And indeed, when we spent time in the company of a married couple, it soon became obvious than there was a distinct difference between the relationship me and my ex-girlfriend enjoyed and that of the married couple.

    However, YMMV.

    As for the video, somehow I wouldn’t feel comfortable seeing my niece performing in a number like that. And I wouldn’t want to be the type of person who felt comfortable seeing that.

  • nnvee

    @Tyler Foster

    I am not a proponent of marriage. I am quite indifferent to it. I don’t really care how consenting adults define their relationships.
    If I were a creator of a society I would not have even invented marriage. (I’m female by the way)

    BUT let’s put marriage in the context of this song: They had a loving partnership (as you put it) for 3 years until the marriage discussion apparently arisen. She wanted it. He did not. They were at an impasse. The proper thing to do is end the relationship.

    Now according to the lyrics of this song he didn’t put a ring on it YET he did not want anyone else to marry or have interest in her either. Metaphorically that’s like having your foot on first base and second base simultaneously. You never can be called “out”. That’s cowardly if you ask me. Take your lumps and move along.

    Marriage should not be used as a weapon by males or females, offensively or defensively.

  • @nnvee

    I wasn’t so much analyzing your response to the song as I was what I remembered of the song itself. You may not put emphasis on marriage, but the basic gist of the song, “if you liked it you shoulda put a ring on it”, definitely does.

    Also, it doesn’t sound like they talked. The song’s lyrics essentially read: I cried in secret frequently during the length of our three year relationship and you never decided to marry me, which would have made everything okay. Thus, I can now go to the same club that you do and do whatever I want, with the general intention to make you jealous, because you didn’t do what I wanted.

  • mfan

    Lighten up people! These parents are raising their children as they see fit. It’s only been very recently, historically, that young children have been treated any differently than adults. And in the French court of Louie XIV, kids were allowed to run around nude until just before puberty. Trying to tell others how to raise their kids is the same impulse that leads to conflicts up to, and including, war. I’m sure the Taliban has the same ideas about your young daughters wearing shorts, as you do about these young girls dancing. So lighten up and stop being like the Taliban.

  • nnvee

    @Tyler Foster

    I commend you on investing time to check the lyrics.
    I will say though, that she cried secretly for 3 years is no indication that the marriage topic did not come up. I’m sure standing in the middle of the club 3 years later is not the first time he’s hearing of her want to get married.

    If you’ll notice the basic gist of the song, “if you liked it you shoulda put a ring on it”, is in the past tense. So she is referring to the past 3 years where there was plenty of time for him to make his decision.

    I stick with my original conclusion that the relationship was at an impasse and time was up. The lyrics state very early in the song that they are broke up and rightly so.

    Now back to the club scene: Are they BOTH acting immaturely? YES. Do people act immaturely in night clubs? Does the sun warm the earth? Do bears…you get what I mean. Nice discussion.

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