Pole dancing kits for girls, high heel shoes for babies, pornography symbols and images on children’s pencil cases and sexually suggestive slogans on children’s clothing. These are some of the more shocking examples of the landslide of sexualisation that is sweeping our children as they helplessly stand in it’s passage.
Sometimes a landslide isn’t always dramatic, landslides often happen as little by little it creeps forward and erosion gradually occurs before a catastrophic result. There are examples of subtle forms of sexualisation everywhere. Music videos with suggestive lyrics, dance moves, skimpy clothing, airbrushing in magazines, billboards flashing bare skin and adult content and innuendo in advertising.
The result of our kids being caught in this landslide is grave. Girls who get caught in this sexualised society can have low self esteem, unrealistic body image, anxiety, eating disorders and depression. And that is just the beginning.
Boys can also have these side effects. The other danger is that boys are receiving an inaccurate message that girls are a commodity. We need to raise our young men to value women and not think of them as a sexual service station.
Sexualisation is defined as making something sexual in character or quality, or to become aware of sexuality, especially in relation to men and women. Thanks to our hyper-sexualised society, adult sexual concepts have crept into children’s worlds. Of course kids are simply not cognitively ready to handle sexual content. Before coming to terms with your sexuality, you first need to be confident in your own self and your own worth. Becoming a secure and balanced person should be the focus during childhood and teenage years. There should not be a pressure to be sexy or sexual.
Sadly sex is cheapened and it’s value diminished as it becomes a major cog in the wheels of popular culture. So often children growing up in families who are very cautious to what their children are exposed to still receive mixed messages in the sexually saturated society.
So how can we guide our children through this sexually saturated society?
There is a lot to be said for limiting exposure to sexual images and content. I make no apologies for keeping my children sheltered from concepts they are not ready to deal with. I think it would be naive to think that you can simply shield your child from all the sexual onslaughts that seem to soak every street corner. not to mention the dangers lurking online. (For heavens sake, a child searching for a You Tube clip on Dora can inadvertedly come across a whole heap of “Dora” that would make Boots and Diego blush.) I think it’s important to speak to our children and teach them to be critically aware of issues so they can be on guard and responsible.
Here are some ways:
Watch TV with your children
Yes, this can be a chore. But hey, you may have noticed that parenting is full of chores. ABC 3 isn’t always compelling viewing for an adult or you’d prefer to be catching up on work rather than viewing a music clip. However, as you watch, there is a good chance that you will start noticing hidden messages (or perhaps not so hidden?) that are in these shows that are not part of the values your family upholds. Discuss with your child, (not lecture), the issues which will gently guide their awareness so they are not blindly being indoctrinated. This applies to all forms media and popular culture.
Don’t be afraid to not let your child watch certain things. Or wear particular clothing. Or listen to inappropriate music. Explain to your child why you have set those boundaries and communicate that you make these boundaries because you love them. If they’re not feeling the love. Remain strong. The love will catch up to them someday!
Mothers be careful about what you are communicating to children through your actions. Don’t obsess about your weight and image in front of your children. Eat healthily with them and resist the urge to do fad diets. Fathers treating your family, and women in general, with dignity and respect is a particularly strong role model for your kids. A Father’s positive words and actions have enormous influence on his daughter and his behaviour is a guide for a son’s attitude toward women.
Challenge the Status Quo
Don’t just protect your own family from our sexualised society. Speak out for the benefit of your own children and those voiceless children who are suffering from the side effects of this sexual pollution. Sign petitions, write letters of objection, speak out against sexualisation or post links to articles on social media. Join websites such as Collective Shout and become aware and engaged in the fight for purifying our culture. The challenge may seem insurmountable, but little by little our collective voices can make a change!
The Australian Psychological Society has more detail on helping girls have a healthy self image.
Let’s call our families and our society to a higher level. Remember, the standard you walk past is the standard you accept.
This is another post in the series I am doing for my friend Letitia. She is cycling 40km in 40 days Cycling Challenge and seeking to raise awareness about women’s issues for her 40th birthday. Tish speaks on this video about sexualisation.
I did a double take when I saw the shirt she was wearing at first! I get so mad when I see blokes wearing shirts like that. How dare they expose my children to soft porn. How.Dare.They. I hope Tish burned the shirt when she was finished with it. It did help her make a good point though.
If you want to support Letitia and make a donation, head to City Women and follow the links.
Has the sexualisation of our society ever made you mad? What limits do you set in your family to protect your children?