Thursday, 04 August 2011
I'm also not saying there's anything wrong with grown adults dressing and dancing however they want. If you're over 18, it's your own damn business what you do in your free time. Wanna be a stripper? Go for it. Hell, I'm even for legalized prostitution.
My point is simply that children could be hurt by being exposed to that. It's not that sex is a bad thing that we need to hide them from, it's that they're not ready for it yet.
In a media-swamped country where unfortunately many children are parented by a television and good parents are told they're stifling their kids when they put any restrictions on their behavior or attire, it should be no surprise that we regularly find ourselves having the conversation "is this inappropriate?" when discussing young girls.
From the "Single Ladies" dancers (a group of 9 year olds dancing in basically lingerie), to the kids on Toddlers in Tiaras, to the latest scandal about Submarine's swimsuit photos for young girls, we are constantly debating what is and is not appropriate for kids of a certain age.
Leaving aside where that line should actually be drawn, there's one line of reasoning that always appears in these debates that makes me crazy. It goes something like this:
"They're kids, they don't know it's sexual!"
"We're reading something sexual into it!"
"The sexiness is in the minds of the adults and we're putting that on them!"
Basically, what's being argued is that it's not sexual because they are children and they don't think that way.
I call bullshit.
Looking at this argument for even a second makes you realize that it's ridiculous. By that logic, a child dancing on a stripper pole isn't a sexual thing simply because the child doesn't know what a stripper is. The fact that they don't know swinging around a pole is sexual doesn't mean it would be appropriate to teach them to do that and put them in front of an audience.
Similarly, they don't know shaking their ass or wearing garters is something that would be sexy on a grown adult, but that doesn't mean a dance teacher should be ordering those costumes and teaching them dance moves that would give my grandmother a heart attack.
Clearly there are things a child shouldn't do, regardless of whether or not they understand the nature of it. I don't care if all that child thinks about is ice cream cones and ponies, if the way they're dressed or the way their dancing resembles a Victoria's Secret model on a run way that cannot possibly be good for them.
Additionally, this assumes that if the children don't know they look like a miniature Playboy Bunny then there's no harm done -once again, bullshit. A kid doesn't need to know what sex is to be, consciously or unconsciously, registering that certain outfits and behaviors are deemed appealing on women. It doesn't take long to make the connection that the way they're dressed and the way those women are dressed aren't different, and that could send some really damaging messages.
They don't need to begin thinking at young ages that they need to expose their body or dance provocatively for any reason, regardless of whether they know yet that the reason adult women do it is to attract men.
Basic rule of thumb: if it would be a sexy outfit on a grown woman, or a sexy behavior or dance, there's probably no good reason for a child to wear that or do that.
So regardless of what specific things are and aren't appropriate, the idea that by virtue of being children everything they're taught to do and allowed to wear is appropriate is ridiculous.
Girls don't suddenly turn 17 and out of no where lose their self esteem and begin to feel that they're a sex object to be bought and sold. That took a lot of time to create.
One other thing I hate hearing:
"I/my friend/my sister/my aunt 5 times removed was dressed like a hooker every Halloween from the age of 5 and she's fine, therefore this is harmless."
Children are extraordinarily resilient. Just because that kid turned out fine doesn't mean it was a good environment to expose them to. Children can overcome almost anything, but they shouldn't have to if we're doing our jobs as parents and as general members of society.