Jump to content

Sexualisation of the young is becoming society's cancer


  • Please log in to reply
2 replies to this topic

#1 IShallWearMidnight

Posted 26 February 2013 - 05:36 PM

http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/contributors...0225-2f1y4.html

QUOTE
Sexualisation of the young is becoming society's cancer

Our overtly sexual environment is generating depressed, lonely people, writes Steve Biddulph.

Fund research into 'sexy' images - expert
One winter's evening in 1992, my wife and I were at Melbourne airport awaiting a flight. An older couple came and sat nearby. They had a small girl with them, aged about four, who seemed restless and a little odd, though it was hard to pin down just why. Suddenly, the girl went and stood in front of a man sitting among the many in the rows of seats. Hitching up her dress, she placed one hand in her knickers, and did a kind of dance, gyrating her hips while keeping her eyes locked on his. The man blushed, the old couple looked studiously in the other direction.

Years of working around child abuse makes you watchful, if not paranoid, and I immediately wondered if this child had been exposed to pornography. Since that is often how paedophiles groom children for sex - showing them things that make it appear fun or normal - there was some ground for that concern. Right then the flight was called. I was racked for days with what I have should done. You can't call airport security and say "that girl was dancing strangely". Twenty years later, we live in different times. Today it's likely the child would have merely watched too much MTV.

The term sexualisation originated in child protection work. It refers to sexual behaviour imposed on someone, as opposed to arising from their own yearnings or desires. Government reports have been carried out worldwide into the phenomenon, and concern has grown that it is a serious problem for the development of girls and boys. Most people think it simply means girls acting too sexy too young.

The trend for cheap clothing shops to sell tacky knickers and push-up bras for eight-year-olds probably epitomises that, along with child beauty quests, and a lack of boundaries around what children see in the media landscape. This concern is not insignificant - Latrobe University's regular surveys of teen sexuality over the past decade show a significant rise in girls starting their sex lives at 14, and having multiple partners while still at school (approaching one in five girls). School counsellors in Britain tell me that 11 or 12 is not uncommon for first sexual experiences. A disturbing proportion are with much older boys. But it's in normal homes that the most pervasive effects are felt - with eight-year-olds dieting and millions of girls declaring that "they hate their bodies".

I believe sexualisation is a deeper and more lifelong issue, perhaps even endemic - and harmful - to gender relations throughout history. Objectification of women was at the core of the feminist struggle. But today, from a completely different quarter, the nature of sexuality for all of us is being modified. For example, boys are being admitted to London's Tavistock Clinic for sexual abuse of sisters or girls at school and found to have been addicted to online porn for years. Some of these boys are only 12 or 13. But it's not just children who are affected. Our whole environment is overtly sexual now and it is changing a once-private activity, with considerable emotional intensity, into a consumer activity with no meaning at all.

In normal development, young people acquire their sexual feelings through hormonal promptings, beginning in the early teens, and most experience considerable shyness and reserve about this. Mid-teen girls are often attracted to very asexual boys (think boy bands) perhaps because this creates a level of safety. Boys too experience strong romantic feelings that may surprise those who believe they ''only think of one thing''. Young couples find holding hands so delicious on its own that it takes months before they would want to go further. Trust and respect are established over time. This is important since the release of oxytocin in sexual activity ties our hearts into bonds which can leave us wounded if they are broken.

Today this is all changing. Many boys learn their sexuality from porn, and fixate not on deep connection, or tender passion, but instead on treating girls like sacks of meat. Distressed girls tell counsellors of gentle boys suddenly becoming callous and hurting them because they think that's how sex is done.

There is something special being lost here. For many young people, sex has become a performance, overlaid with worry about ''How do I look? What tricks do they expect me to perform? How do I compare with others?'' Separating sex from personhood is what sexualisation does. It's robbing us of closeness. Little wonder we have one of the most depressed and lonely generations of young people ever.

It's not just the young. Porn use is very high among adult men, including married men. It's possible that porn is filling a gap in our closeness and lovingness generally. We live in a society that is often too rushed for affection, for attunement between husband and wife, or parent and child. We are a cold culture. Consumer goods and food have replaced intimacy in our lives.

Our earn-and-spend culture edges us towards seeing ourselves as a product. We modify our bodies to compete better in the marketplace. Advertising teaches our young to evaluate themselves merely by their looks.

Unless we redirect ourselves to inner value - kindness, creativity, patience, loyalty, and passion - then we will have nothing to offer our young apart from our credit cards.

Steve Biddulph is the author of Raising Girls, and The New Manhood (Finch Publishing).


#2 IShallWearMidnight

Posted 26 February 2013 - 05:41 PM

I feel this is a huge issue and I really dont know how to limit this sexualisation of my on children. We have already discussed clothing limits for the future (no bikiinis/padded 'bras'/gstrings) and have disallowed DD from joining the 3-7yo 'vertical gymnastic' (poledancing) classes.
What can we do, both at home, and as a society?

#3 43 other ferals

Posted 26 February 2013 - 06:04 PM

I think creating an environment that allows kids to be kids for as long as possible is one of the greatest challenges facing parents today. It'd be one thing if you were Amish, raising your children in the country without TV and could keep the world at bay.  I don't know the answer except that we have to critically look at all of the books and television and clothes and music and so on in their worlds and for as long as possible try to keep it age appropriate.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users

 

Why we tend to hold our babies on our left side

On which side of your body do you carry or cradle your baby? If you answered "left" then you're not alone.

Taking fish oil in pregnancy may prevent childhood asthma

Women who took omega-3 fatty acid supplements (fish oil supplements) in pregnancy reduced the risk of their children developing asthma by almost one third.

Mum, dad and son all share a birthday

Luke and Hillary Gardner never have a problem remembering each other's birthday.

Mum shares the bittersweet truth about pregnancy after miscarriage

A mother's candid and heartfelt reflections about pregnancy after miscarriage are providing comfort to other women.

16 simple ways to make your baby smarter

What's the best way to mentally stimulate your baby? It doesn't take a genius - just a loving, involved parent.

Your blood pressure could predict baby's sex even before conception

The average blood pressure of mother could suggest a baby's sex before it even exists, a study has found.

The breastfeeding photo that says it all

Ashley Rockill was lucky enough to have her birth photographer on hand to capture a precious moment.

13 pregnancy superstitions from across the globe

In honour of Black Friday, let's explore 13 of the strangest pregnancy superstitions from across the globe.

I'm a stay-at-home mum, and I'm sending my son to daycare

When you become a mum you give birth to a beautiful baby, but you also give birth to guilt.

Mum gives birth to 'Incredible Hulk' 6.4kg baby

An American mother was shocked when she gave to a 6.4kg (14lb 1oz) baby last month.

Mum demands $530 for daughter's shoes after playdate

A mum has made a pretty bold move by demanding $532 for a pair of her daughter's shoes that were damaged at another family's house. 

A toddler's guide to helping around the house

If a toddler was to write a guide to 'help' you with the household chores, it would go something like this.

The breast pump you can use on the go

The game-changing breast pump promises to make life easier all round.

'Mum, don't be mad but I've just had a baby'

A teen mum has shared her birth story – and her shock at not knowing she was pregnant until her baby's head emerged.

No, Senator, childcare workers don't just wipe noses and stop fights

The only thing childcare workers spend their time doing is "wiping noses and stopping the kids from killing each other"? Not quite.

'I wanted to be the birth mum so much'

When people say "aren't you lucky that there are two of you, that you can switch?" I give them a tight smile.

6 myths about breastfeeding toddlers

Although breastfeeding a toddler isn't for everybody, if you choose to nurse beyond babyhood you can expect some strong reactions.

 
Advertisement
 

Top 5 Articles

Advertisement
 
 
 

From our network

Your child's fine motor skills: what you should know

There is less of a focus on fine motor skills, but they're just as important as others. (SPONSORED)

5 ways music helps your toddler's development

There are at least five other compelling reasons to get musical around your toddler. (SPONSORED)

 

Baby Names

Unusual Celeb Baby Names

Click through the gallery to read the details and see some of the most memorable monikers in show biz families.

 
Advertisement
 
 
Essential Baby and Essential Kids is the place to find parenting information and parenting support relating to conception, pregnancy, birth, babies, toddlers, kids, maternity, family budgeting, family travel, nutrition and wellbeing, family entertainment, kids entertainment, tips for the family home, child-friendly recipes and parenting. Try our pregnancy due date calculator to determine your due date, or our ovulation calculator to predict ovulation and your fertile period. Our pregnancy week by week guide shows your baby's stages of development. Access our very active mum's discussion groups in the Essential Baby forums or the Essential Kids forums to talk to mums about conception, pregnancy, birth, babies, toddlers, kids and parenting lifestyle. Essential Baby also offers a baby names database of more than 22,000 baby names, popular baby names, boys' names, girls' names and baby names advice in our baby names forum. Essential Kids features a range of free printable worksheets for kids from preschool years through to primary school years. For the latest baby clothes, maternity clothes, maternity accessories, toddler products, kids toys and kids clothing, breastfeeding and other parenting resources, check out Essential Baby and Essential Kids.