June 11, 2009 / Media - Entertainment, Sexism, The New Agenda, Youth

PRESS RELEASE: Letterman: Violence Against Teenage Girls is no Laughing Matter


This morning The New Agenda issues the following press release:

For Immediate Release

David Letterman: Violence Against Teenage Girls is no Laughing Matter
Apology Talk is Cheap; Action Proves True Contrition

The New Agenda, a national organization dedicated to improving the lives of all women and girls regardless of political affiliation, called on David Letterman to demonstrate true contrition by devoting a segment of his show to some of the insidious ways language puts young women at risk.

“Letterman’s apology talk last night was cheap,” said The New Agenda co-founder and President Amy Siskind. “True contrition would not invite the Palin’s on his show after publicly humiliating them and their 14-year old daughter. If Letterman’s apology is authentic, he should show it by devoting part of his show to address the national crisis of the sexualization of our teenage daughters.”

Siskind said the topic is ripe for a “top ten” list that reveals the stealth nature of teen sexualization.

The New Agenda notes the disturbing statistics on violence against our teenage daughters in conjunction with this sexualization. According to the American Bar Association:
* 1 in 3 female teenagers in a dating relationship has feared for her physical safety;
* 1 in 2 teenagers in a serious relationship has compromised personal beliefs to please a partner; and
* 1 in 5 teenagers in a serious relationship reports having been hit, slapped, or pushed by a partner;

The New Agenda President Amy Siskind said: “Joking about the sexual promiscuity of a teenage girl is not a laughing matter. Our girls are experiencing an escalating rate of the early precursors of domestic violence as our culture increasingly treats them as sexual objects. David Letterman’s comments about Governor Palin’s teenage daughter are a prime example of treating a teenage girl as a sexual object.”

The New Agenda notes that David Letterman offered a lame apology on his June 10th show in which he claimed his remarks were aimed at Governor Palin’s 18 year-old, not 14 year-old daughter. Siskind added: “Our country deserves better than this. Mothers and fathers in this country must demand that our daughters not be treated as sexual objects. David Letterman should be ashamed of his remarks.”

The New Agenda also notes that corporate sponsors are concerned about advertising on The Letterman Show. One alleged corporate sponsor wrote to The New Agenda blog editor to inform us: “I would like to assure you again, that we have no affiliation with Mr. Letterman’s show.” Siskind added: “David Letterman and his producers should know: you might think that sexism sells, but the mothers and fathers of this country aren’t buying it!”