At first, the idea of watching a music video of one of their favorite rappers Lil Wayne without the music did not appeal at all to the group of students in Noreen Rahman's classroom.
In fact, a collective groan erupted from the all-girl class when Rahman announced that she would mute the music to Lil Wayne's song "Lollipop" as they watched the video. "No music?" the girls said as they glanced quizzically at each other.
Rahman, however, had a plan, and she quickly explained to the girls, who ranged in age between 11 and 14, that often the music and lyrics distract from what they're seeing on the television screen.
When Rahman, a prevention programs coordinator for Girls Inc., asked the class of 19 girls what they thought of Lil Wayne's video, they immediately zeroed in on the sexual portions. Fourteen-year-old Raquel Espinoza noticed there were "too many girls in short things" and that the women were "promiscuous."
When Rahman asked them what message they took from the video, 12-year-old Courtney Manley succinctly summed it up with: "That boys can be like players and have lots of women."
After four weeks of body image classes, these girls had learned to distinguish between what Rahman called the audience message and hidden messages, between sexual objectification and consensual objectification. They smartly pointed out that the video was disrespectful of women and that women in the video competed for the rappers' attention by wearing risqué clothing.
"They feel they have to because of what they see. They're influenced," said Emily Ramos, 11.
Something to consider for those of you who don't think medicine/engineering are exactly right for them...