Sexualising Children

The Australia Institute has just issued a report provocatively titled Corporate Paedophilia (see summary here).

It examines concerns with the early sexualisation of children, particularly young girls, and the role of corporate Australia in supporting and promoting this through marketing. Emma Rush, who co-authored the report, also touches on aspects such as sales and peer pressure in a piece in today’s Sydney Morning Herald.

The various commercial outlets criticised in the report have not surprisingly all come out against the report and its findings, saying that child models used in their promotional materials are not exploited in this way.I don’t want to get into the specifics of that dispute, but I don’t think there’s much doubt that styles for young girls are increasingly mini versions of women’s wear. Some department stores are stocking the popular Bratz branded (amongst other brands) padded bralettes and G-strings for girls aged 6 to 10, which is a low in marketing and common sense. This is the second time in recent years that Australian chain stores have courted controversy by stocking ‘adult apparel’ for sale to children.

I’ve been pushing for some time to get a stronger national approach to child protection and children’s rights issues, and the dangers of sexualisation of children are a concern. I have had people contact me about this issue previously, and one parent described the garments on sale to young girls as a peer pressure nightmare and the only people who would find them in any way appealing would be paedophiles.

There is an increasing desire by marketers to turn our children into mini adults in order to make sales. Childhood fashions are increasingly becoming micro versions of adult wear and while this is not so much an issue in terms of boys’-wear, girls are increasingly being pushed to wear adult style underwear, tight and revealing clothing and high heel shoes in the name of fashion.

Whilst I acknowledge that we live in a fast changing world which is very different to a few decades ago, I think there is a real risk that we are not allowing children, and particularly young girls, to be children. Marketers are forcing girls into an adult mould before some even learn how to read, interact with older people or to think critically. We are pushing them into a corner where they become obsessed with how their bodies look in clothing that is not suitable for their age group, and whether we like it or not we are forcing on them an adult sexuality which is unnecessary and potentially quite harmful.

The Australia Institute Report also touches on the issue of highly sexual music videos which are shown at children’s viewing hours. Given that I’ve publicly supported the right of shows like Big Brother to be screened, it may seem incongruous that I’m concerned about this, but I think there is a big difference between adults choosing to watch shows with heavy sexual content, and children being regularly exposed to content with strong sexual overtones, even when it is clearly less explicit.

I am apprehensive about overstating issues such as this, as there is always a risk of a response developing which can be equally unbalanced in a counter-direction. However, the deliberate sexualisation of children is dangerous and undesirable, and does merit wider public debate. The Australia Institute will be soon issuing a discussion paper on possible policy solutions to the problem of marketing inappropriately to children.

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88 Comments

  1. Another low I.Q. sexist paedophile with her head in the dark ages.

    Commenting on her recent publication “The Beautiful Boy”

    http://sunday.ninemsn.com.au/sunday/political_transcripts/article_1374.asp

    “GERMAINE GREER: Well, if you talk eye candy, you see, you’re not talking about something you’re going to debauch or abuse. You’re talking about looking at something beautiful and saying how beautiful. I think it’s a shame that we don’t – well, D.H. Lawrence said it before me, why do men wear those awful clothes? Why can’t they dress as once they did with, you know, one leg red and one leg green and a little nipped in jacket with a little skirt and big broad shoulders and a little hat cocked on the side of their head. Whatever happened to the beautiful page boys that thronged the streets? Where did they go? They’re all slouching around in trousers eight sizes too big with baseball caps on backwards because they’re so anxious not to be thought of as beautiful but ever mother knows that her son is beautiful. “

  2. just had a post dissappear? I’ll try again…….

    Another low I.Q., sexist paedophile with her head in the dark ages.

    Germaine greer commenting on her recent book “The Beautiful Boy”.

    http://sunday.ninemsn.com.au/sunday/political_transcripts/article_1374.asp
    GERMAINE GREER: Well, if you talk eye candy, you see, you’re not talking about something you’re going to debauch or abuse. You’re talking about looking at something beautiful and saying how beautiful. I think it’s a shame that we don’t – well, D.H. Lawrence said it before me, why do men wear those awful clothes? Why can’t they dress as once they did with, you know, one leg red and one leg green and a little nipped in jacket with a little skirt and big broad shoulders and a little hat cocked on the side of their head. Whatever happened to the beautiful page boys that thronged the streets? Where did they go? They’re all slouching around in trousers eight sizes too big with baseball caps on backwards because they’re so anxious not to be thought of as beautiful but ever mother knows that her son is beautiful.

  3. Coral,

    I hope you can explain to young people about the dangers of exploitative adults and sexual predators better than your attempts on this forum.

    I hope you do not resort to the same put downs and name calling when talking to young people as you have on this forum.

    Young people need reasons, not appeals conform to someone elses morality. Claims of higher intelligence or even the wisdom of age do not cut it. What good is intellegence and wisdom if it cannot be explained beyond unquestionable authority?

    I am sure you have an opinion of integrity but without an explanation it is just sexual repression, and is perceived as such by those who you preach to.

  4. Never, in the history of blogosphere endeavour, has a commenter of such high verbal IQ been crushed so thoroughly, by so many, so quickly.*

    *With the exception of the similarly talented Deb Frisch.

  5. Seriously people, CORAL is the only one making sense.

    John Tracey, Yobbo et al have a very perverted mentality. What do you guys want? 11 year old girls walking around naked?

  6. Yeah well EP, we all know your feelings on events like RTN. I think you got well and truly crushed here:

    http://www.nationalforum.com.au/blogs/mt-comments.cgi?entry_id=457

    Just proves my point really.

    When you can’t even acknowledge that the white male has enjoyed enormous power and privilege in this, and past society, and that they ruthlessly dominate and oppress all other groups by their control of powerful institutions, organisations and legal systems, set up to support and protect same power and privilege. Then you and others like you are the problem.

    You need to wake up to yourself, get some insight and enlightenment.

    JT,“On occaisions when my mum was going out she would pick up a few of my friends, including one girl I was keen on. She spoke to their parents and told them what time she would drop them off. She brought my friends to my house and left us alone until she returned home, and asked no questions when she did. Then she returned my friends to their homes.”

    Was your Mum your pimp?
    Were the 13 yo. girl’s parents aware that their daughter was being procured for your sexual experimentation?

  7. Law student, the answer is simply no. Your attempt at personal slur bears no resemblence to what I have articulated, I suggest you read my comments again. I am happy to defend what i HAVE said.

    I havent heard anyone except you bring up the issue of naked 11 year olds (to borrow from Corals style of non-argument)

    Deborah,

    you are a disgusting hypocrite.

    “Was your Mum your pimp?”

    Where is your feminism now? Can you atack a women you do not know and accuse her of being such a sleaze simply because she does not fit your repressive stereotype?

    I believe her contact with my friends parents suggests some honour and accountability, which you so disgustingly pervert to make a nasty jab.

    stuff you too.

    You still havent answered my question about what benefit, if any, does reclaim the streets have beyond reinforcing the opinions of the participants – including the the sort mysogynist and anti-sex opinions that you express about my mum?

    It is people like you with your cultural dominance that has forced a wedge between the western feminist movement and third world women, a question of colonial arrogance that is raised at every international womens forum.

    What makes such personal attacks and demonisation by you any different from the Brethren who also so vocally dissaprove of sex?

    You are a hypocrite!
    Apply your own critique of the Brethren with what you have written about my mother and see what comes up.

    same thing your dismissal of the diverse opinions of others with your disgusting slander

    Stay in your petty ideological box if you want but also leave the sleazy dirty insinuations in your own mind.

  8. It seems to me that the absense of rational argument and the immediate use of personal abuse to challenge different opinion is indeed proof of the sexual repression in our society. We can’t even talk about sex without personal abuse.

    Is this because these people have no ideas or morality beyond jargon? I don’t think so. It is because they are too scared to look at their own opinions, or worse their own sexuality, and obsfucate these things with peer generated ideology such as feminism, christianity or in Coral’s case unquestioning obedience to the state, in which they find the comfort of conformity.

    I pity their children and what attitudes to sex they have or might have in the future. They are doomed if these people talk to them the same way they engage in public discussion.

  9. John Tracey and Yobbo…

    Can you guys please start roaming the streets naked because clothing is “society’s construction” (in line of your age of consent argument).

  10. well actually law student, although it is not appropriate in such a sick and repressive society as our own, Nakedness is in fact the traditional costume of Aboriginal Australia. Then the missionaries turned up and told them that nakedness was evil. Then the missionaries started raping the children and women.

    I would not encourage anyone to walk around naked in public because their are sickos with attitudes to sex such as the feminist/christian/statist attitudes expressed on this forum. However it is important for children at home to see their parents naked in the shower etc. as well as for them to feel comfortable with their own bodies.

  11. “What do you guys want? 11 year old girls walking around naked?”

    I want people like you and Coral to not resort to calling people a paedophile whenever the topic comes up. I want people to argue rationally without being hysterical, which is the reason I joined this thread in the first place.

    Seems it didn’t work as Coral has only got MORE hysterical. But some people are just unable to separate emotion from their arguments.

  12. Hmm – well at least the triumvirate has now been reacehd on the Bartlett blog. Politics, religion and now sex.

    One thing people should be awaaer of, ther is little if any evidnce (one refernce is a Senate Inquiry here back in 2000 or so) that exposuer to sexual material has any positive correaltion with abborent sexual behaviour.

  13. JT – “However it is important for children at home to see their parents naked in the shower etc. as well as for them to feel comfortable with their own bodies.”

    You’re sick. Let your child see you doing your partner too? You do sound like a paedo.

  14. Law Student:

    Thank you for your keen observations and pertinent comments.

    I am not at all crushed by the comments of Yobbo or John Tracey, who sound as if they are both in desperate need of a visit to a counsellor, before they end up somewhere more confining.

    I said Yobbo’s comment that “puberty is nature’s age of consent” was something I would NORMALLY expect to hear coming from a paedophile.

    Neither Yobbo nor JT seems to know what that means. Read for comprehension, guys.

    The last person who should be complaining about anyone else’s abuse is the KING OF ALL ABUSERS – J.T. himself.

    I think Andrew has just given him the chance to show everyone how insane he is, and he’s done the job brilliantly.

    Grow up for Christ’s sake, JT, before you burst a blood vessel.

  15. Your comment that “puberty is nature’s age of consent” is something I would NORMALLY expect to hear coming from a paedophile.

    Whatever you counsel Coral its obviously not paedophiles – they are way to smart to ever say such a thing to an adult.

  16. This comment from the law student says it all.

    JT – “However it is important for children at home to see their parents naked in the shower etc. as well as for them to feel comfortable with their own bodies.”

    You’re sick. Let your child see you doing your partner too? You do sound like a paedo.”

    All you people who let your children see your body, or even worse, share a bath or shower with them should hand yourselves over to the police immediately.

    go on, lets get honest now.
    How many parents have NOT allowed their children to see them in the shower? Is there one amongst you?

  17. Is there a mainstream sex educator out there with an opinion on children seeing their parents naked? It has been a while since I read up on such things, my kids are in their 20’s now. But one of the basics of sex education for children is for them to feel comfortable with their bodies, long before they are sexualised. Law students fearfull attitudes, if instilled into children will only manifest as sexual guilt and relationship dysfunction when they do reach puberty.

    Law student – should you tell girls about menstruation before they reach puberty or should you wait until they start bleeding before you raise the issue? Same with breasts. or pubic hair for boys and girls. Do we protect our children from these evils too?

  18. First on the list of a google search – The American Academy of Pediatrics – another group of paodophiles?

    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/sex-education/HQ00547

    What kids should know before they reach puberty
    The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that before they reach puberty, children should have a basic understanding of:

    The names and functions of male and female sex organs
    What happens during puberty and what the physical changes of puberty mean — movement into young womanhood or young manhood
    The nature and purpose of the menstrual cycle
    What sexual intercourse is and how females become pregnant
    How to prevent pregnancy
    Same-sex relationships
    Masturbation
    Activities that spread sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), in particular AIDS
    Your expectations and values

  19. and Deborah, I am still waiting for an explanation of reclaim the night beynd peer conformity. Does it have any other purpose?

    I am not surprised by the repressive attitudes expressed by some on this forum, I allready know about that. I am however astounded by the absence of explanation for any thing except for lame accusations of paodophilia. The rabidity and venom that has emerged has surprised me. I hope this list does not represent mainstream opinion as we are certainly a sick society if it does. There is no wonder we have such major problems with sexual assault and mental illness.

  20. Back to the topic.

    If mainstream child sex education pedagogies can be villified as paodophilia and no distinction drawn between it and paodohile images in the media, then our critique and action on paedohile imagery will unquestionably be a movement of sexual repression that will grow up a generation of sex hating adults. This will neot protect children, quite the opposite I suggest.

    We must distinguish between our repulsion of sexual exploitation and our own fears of sexuality. Wrapping them into one, as has occured here, is just allowing the paedophile ethic to dominate healthy sexuality.

  21. JT – they should be educated about mensturation and pubic hair when they reach that age. However, i’m totally opposed to your 5 year old hanging on your bell end or having views of your wife’s babylons when you shower.

  22. Law student,

    according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (above) children should learn the words for genitalia before they reach puberty.

    It seems you are still having trouble here and might need a post-puberty refresher course. (assuming that you have reached puberty already)

  23. JT – “movement of sexual repression that will grow up a generation of sex hating adults. This will neot protect children, quite the opposite I suggest.”

    It has nothing to do with sexual repression. Its about introducing sexual issues to them at the right age. With your logic, it is absolutely fine to teach sex to a 5 year old isn’t it?

    Also, physical evolving does not equate mental evolving.

    We should not have 12 year old girls dressing like sluts at your pleasure, and we should not have your 5 year old in the shower with you.

    I think the senator should give me your ip address so i can let Child Protection know of you.

  24. I don’t think that additional ending is helpful Law STUDENT, or in fact reflectvie at all of the views put forward by JT. At the risk of being called the pot or the kettle, even though i am guilty of the odd bit of satirising and baiting, thres a lot of unecessary exaggeration in some of these posts.

    There is obviously some history between some peole here becasue no real attempt is being made to argue the issues.

  25. Law student,
    just out of curiosity. Can you see a difference between the American Academy of Pediatrics prescriptions for sex education before puberty and the paedophile imagery that is the topic of this forum? Are they the same thing to you?

  26. Law student,
    I believe calling me a paediphile is in fact defamation. However I am very happy that you have done this because you have provided a great example of the main point I make about fearful and repressive sexuality.

    Loving bonding. – when a new born baby sucks his/her mothers tit, a full range of hormonal activity occurs in both Mum and bub. When both feel comfortable with this and find security in it then bonding begins.
    Don’t have to breast feed, just physical skin to skin contact with all its smells does the same thing. Dads do this too.

    This is the baby’s first experience and understanding of their body as a separate but connected thing to their mum.

    When the first tooth comes along and the baby bites mum’s tit, then the first lesson of mutual respect begins when the baby is taught they can only experience this hormonal security if they do not hurt the other person.

  27. sorry to cut short this discussion folks, but I think it’s gone as far as is useful, so I’ll close off comments on this post for now. If someone wants to re-open it with a particular comment, email it to me and I’ll think about it.

    It’s been an interesting example of how people don’t all fall neatly into pre-determined ideological pigeon holes, but it’s gone too much into individual abuse-defend mode, and too-far off topic too.

    I know none of us are ever perfect in this regard, but it would be better if we could manage discussions on topics like this (and others) without immediately getting into personal attacks on people (and their mothers!) that don’t even address the arguments people are putting.

Comments are closed.