Sexualisation of the young is becoming society's cancer
, Feb 26 2013 05:36 PM
2 replies to this topic
Posted 26 February 2013 - 05:36 PM
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).
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?
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.
1 user(s) are reading this topic
0 members, 1 guests, 0 anonymous users
It's not just waiting periods that couples need to consider - there are other factors to consider when thinking about health insurance.
Australian model Nicole Trunfio has taken the concept of multitasking to a fashionable new level for Elle Australia.
Parents have been warned about the dangers of letting babies sleep in bouncers and swings following the death of a three-month-old girl.
Sleep deprivation is a real hazard of caring for a baby. But there are ways to manage the challenges of fatigue better.
It's not all the parents, and it's not all the time, but there is often at least one doing it. And sometimes, that 'one' is me.
More than 80,000 faulty Samsung washing machines pose a fire threat in homes throughout Australia despite a nationwide recall of the machines.
Lotus birthing is not all that common, but for a number of women it feels like the most natural thing to do.
Despite its widespread nature, there is still a great amount of mystery surrounding PND - and it's important to try unravelling as much of that as we can.
More than 50 million vehicles recalled for potentially lethal airbag fault - is your car affected?
H2O is one of the necessities of life, but for babies a seemingly harmless amount of water can be fatal.
He had it all planned: a romantic proposal on a windswept beach. The whole family would be there so they'd all be able to celebrate the joyous moment together.
When our son stopped talking, our sense of loss was painful and acute.
They run their homes like domestic CEOs and work tirelessly to improve their family's social standing. And now, according to a new book, they want an annual perk from their husbands.
A widely-shared Facebook photograph of a British woman's breast has raised awareness of a more subtle breast cancer symptom.
"I'd never really failed a test - how could I fail this particularly manly test?"
New guidelines have been released, aimed at reducing children's harmful exposure to lead. But they still don't go far enough.
Chances are your toddler's behaviour is all completely normal - but here's how to tackle some common social problems.
We did sigh with joy at the arrival of a royal princess - but, mostly, we sighed with pity at the sight of Prince George being taken to meet her.
I've been in denial and I'm not too proud to beg, but it appears I must accept the fact that you have gone. I need to let you go.
The father of identical triplets born in a Texas hospital says his three daughters, including conjoined twins, are "a miracle" sent by God.
If the last time you assessed your health cover was five years ago, there?s a chance it may no longer suit your needs. To ensure it?s still right for your family, click here for seven questions to ask.
Many women in labour don't use gas effectively and suffer more side effects than benefits. Here's how to get the most out of this pain relief option.
We cannot place all children who are sick in a bubble till they recover, but we can give other parents a choice about exposing their kids to them.
Home and Away actress Ada Nicodemou has opened up about the loss of her stillborn baby.
Before you start tracking your menstrual cycle and reading up on the best positions to get pregnant, there are a few other things you may want to consider.
Cricket legend Glenn McGrath and his second wife Sara are expecting their first child together, thanks to IVF and a delicate surgical sperm retrieval process that helped the couple to conceive.
The mother of disgraced wellness blogger Belle Gibson has accused her daughter of lying about her childhood in an attempt to garner public sympathy.
A new mum claims a doctor left his mobile phone inside her after delivering her baby via caesarean section.
I want my kids to know that no matter what happens in life, you can still be who it is that you've always wanted to be.
I had this innate 'mum' moment the other day.
Katherine's father will die in prison for the horrifying sexual abuse of his daughter. Yet she is the one with the true life sentence.
Mothers, babies, the health system and the wider society are going to pay the price of this new budget.
Baby Jai Bishop has lived at Starship Hospital for the past seven months, with his parents flying back and forth from Hokitika, 1100km away, to be by his side.
Life On Mars
We are all responsible for our own behaviour. Telling victims to harden up is wrong.
The biological father of baby Gammy has reportedly tried to access charity money raised for the little boy's medical costs.
It?s all very well to encourage women to work if they choose to, but how can the measures lead to increased workforce participation when women are once again left holding the baby?
After seven years of wishing, hoping, crying, punching pillows and shouting "why me?!", the end result is more than I ever thought possible.
Whether you're after a new car for a growing family, a bigger house, or are just fixing up your finances, here are the basics on borrowing.
A mum has shared a graphic photo of her skin cancer treatment as a warning to others.
We can certainly gain higher levels of happiness when we become parents, but the trick is to not get overwhelmed by the pressures of raising our kids.
It's obvious these people dote on their pets, but they're barking up the wrong tree.
Top baby names
The numbers are in and we can now bring you the 2014 top baby name list for Australia.