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

 

'My parenting style is Survivalist'

A helicopter or tiger mum, I am not.

8 mums reveal their favourite nappy bags

We asked a bunch of mums which nappy bags they love the most.

Why you shouldn't bother throwing a big first birthday party

If you're feeling the pressure to host an all-out, over-the-top shindig for your baby's birthday, I hereby grant you permission to throw the rules out the window.

The 24 baby names on the verge of extinction this year

If you're on the hunt for the perfect baby name and don't want a chart-topper like Oliver or Olivia, then do we have the list for you.

'My mum doesn't seem that interested in my baby'

Q: My mother and I have always been close, but now that I have a baby, she has not helped out as much as I thought she would.

New guidelines: "Bottle-feeding mums need support too"

Breast is best, but mums who can't, or choose not to breastfeed need support too.

Dads also struggle to 'have it all', study finds

Men and women both experience work-family conflict.

Language development may start in the womb

Study found babies can recognise foreign languages before birth.

 
Advertisement
 

Top 5 Articles

Advertisement
 
 
 

From our network

Five things you need to know about flu and pregnancy

As the 2017 flu season begins in earnest, here?s what you need to know to protect yourself and baby.

Mum tips to keep your pre-baby budget in check

Money might be funny in a rich man's world (or so ABBA told us), but for the rest of us it's a major consideration – particularly before having a baby.

5 easy ways to make your maternity leave last longer

Maternity leave is a special time for you, your partner and your new little bundle. The last thing you want is for financial worries to stand in the way of that joy.

10 ways to keep your 'buying for baby' costs down

Becoming a parent is full of surprises – not least of all finding out that, for such small beings, babies cause a lot of chaos and expense.

5 ways to prepare to go from two incomes to one

Here are some ideas for getting that budget in shape, ready for being a one income family.

 

Baby Names

Need some ideas?

See what names are trending this year.

 
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.