Advanced search

Sexualisation of children

(9 Posts)
alicej12 Mon 23-Dec-13 20:56:19

Hiya, I am reading sociology at university and studying the sexualisation of children in western culture. Just wondering what your thoughts were on this? Do you think the media is to blame? What do you think of beauty paegents (focusing mainly on ones for children) ? Do you think it generates gender stereotypes e.g. women the sex to look at.


freyasnow Mon 23-Dec-13 21:29:50

I think that society as a whole is responsible for what's happening rather than the media in particular. I don't think that children's pageants happen much in the UK. I don't think you can separate sexualisation from general social values about treating people in all spheres with respect.

biryani Mon 23-Dec-13 21:30:53

Interesting topic to study!

I don't like beauty pageants. I don't know why, they just make me uncomfortable. But I'm not sure if dressing up little kids as adults is sexualising them or just innocent princessification.

In general, I think we overthink some things and one of these is the so-called sexualusation of children. I hope you don't mind me saying so, but the way you are asking the questions kind of assumes that children ARE sexualized.

I'm getting on a bit, and I remember a time when kids were basically just kids. It doesn't mean that we didn't wear what would now be considered to be sexy clothes: we did! All our shorts were skimpy, as we're our t-shirts. We all wore hotpants and gogo boots to our end-of-primary disco. We looked grown-up, but there was no sexual connotation. Yet we were streetwise, knew about strange men, and talked about boys and boobs.
What has changed? I think nowadays there is a different attitude to parenting. Children are seen as more vulnerable. Parents see risk everywhere, and react accordingly. There is a feeling of paranoia around children which has become part of our cultural norm. Blaming the media is blaming the messenger for the message. Parents are responsible for the way they react.

As to the selling of so-called "sexy" clothing, again parents have a choice whether to buy or not. Shops would not sell it if there were not a market.

NiceTabard Tue 24-Dec-13 11:13:46

biryani the risk to children has always been there. Just in the past, no-one took any notice whatsoever when children were assaulted etc. Now they may take a small bit of notice if you're lucky.

Remember all that stuff with Mandy Smith FGS. I think that now that relationship would not be reported positively in the papers and on telly!

I disagree with a lot of your post TBH but not sure where to start.

For the OP I think that teh media in all shapes and sizes is sending out a narrow and probably damaging message to all children as they grow up about what they are and what they should do and what they're for. It is fucking up both male and female children. The accessibility of hardcore porn to children is a real concern, as it means their sexuality is being shaped by what they see rather than what they learn from experiences with others. When I was young no-one removed all of their pubic hair and the boys thought they were lucky to get a blow job. That has all changed.

biryani Tue 24-Dec-13 13:42:30

nice I agree the risk to children has always been there. And it's not going to go away either.

The Mandy Smith scenario is a case in point. There are those (probably the vast majority) who think that she was exploited. But at the time (as I recall) it was just a sleazy headline in a downmarket tabloid. And the relationship was presumably endorsed by adults.

I think we need to take a balanced view of what constitutes children at risk. For example, it could be argued, quite reasonably I think, that increased traffic poses a greater risk to children than in the past. Do we stop taking children about in cars? No. Do we stop them walking on pavements? No, of course not. We see the risk, acknowledge it and manage it accordingly.

By the same token, we should be dealing with these media messages in the same way. We should acknowledge what's going on and take steps to manage it.

It's not going to be easy. Parents need to develop confidence in their own parenting. After all, if we, as adults, react hysterically to unpleasant stuff, what chance does a child have? Children need to have confidence in adults, after all, if we are to protect them.

NiceTabard Tue 24-Dec-13 13:45:33

They were on wogan! Not a sleazt headline at all confused

Their relationship was lauded as a great romance confused

NiceTabard Tue 24-Dec-13 13:51:18

biryani how does "adult endorsement" make a relationship OK, when otherwise it would not be?

I also don't think that the dangers of traffic should be compared to the dangers of sexual predators, surely. That's a very odd comparison!

biryani Tue 24-Dec-13 13:55:10

nice I meant that it wasn't particularly sleazy at the time, it was a bit of celebrity news. The only thing I can remember is how mature she looked and Bill Wyman being a dirty old man!

Just goes to show how much attitudes have changed, just in that 30 or so years.

biryani Tue 24-Dec-13 15:40:26

Sorry didn't see your last post.

Mandy Smith was a child, so that's very much not ok, in the eyes of the law. What I'm saying is that, by the standards of today, there was very little outcry, if any. Times have changed, though, and had the relationship taken place today, public reaction would be very different.

I used the traffic analogy to demonstrate that, as far as children are concerned, we can manage risk when we have to.

But when it comes to the media, we can't seem to deal with it. Why? Perhaps because we don't know what we''re dealing with, or simply because we feel helpless and overwhelmed. But we are adults, and need to find a way. Our children will look to us to be strong, confident and responsible. If we panic, what sort of message does that give children?

In the same way as we have come to terms with traffic, we will find ways to deal with media messages.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now