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Sexualisation of children
Steve Biddulph article in SMH today


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#1 LifesGood

Posted 26 February 2013 - 12:17 PM

The article in the SMH today

This is a subject I feel quite strongly about - I am concerned for my children and do all I can to hold back the tide of over-exposure to sexual images from them, while keeping them completely comfortable about their bodies.

I'm no prude, but I don't want my 7 y/o DD watching MTV 24/7 (which many people I know have on constantly in their homes). I don't want my DS imitating the hip-thrusting Gangnam Style dancing that one of my closest friends 4 y/o DS was doing recently, to much hilarity from the watching adults. I don't want DD feeling embarrassed or ashamed of her naked body at her young age, or worried about walking through the house with no clothes on. I certainly won't buy either of my children clothes that imitate sexy adult gear, or have suggestive messages or images printed on them.

What do you do to shield your child from over-sexualisation?


#2 aleithaki

Posted 26 February 2013 - 12:20 PM

I care greatly about this issue, too. But my child is still a toddler so it's easy to shelter her at this age. We certainly don't ever have music videos on or anything sexually suggestive. I'm not sure how I'll manage pop culture when school starts.

#3 DEVOCEAN

Posted 26 February 2013 - 12:22 PM

See, I see the bellybutton piercing and the way most(not all) girls wear their short shirts or bikinis to show their belly piercing off, as a problem. Especially in girls as young as 12 and 13.
Some parents don't care about it.


#4 -*meh*-

Posted 26 February 2013 - 12:28 PM

my son likes to dance to gangnam style, he also likes to run around the house naked...

one doesn't eliminate the other

#5 -*meh*-

Posted 26 February 2013 - 12:28 PM

my son likes to dance to gangnam style, he also likes to run around the house naked...

one doesn't eliminate the other

#6 Tesseract

Posted 26 February 2013 - 12:38 PM

It is such a hard line to walk. How do we celebrate sex and educate kids about sex, without sexualising them inappropriately?

For us the approach we will take (DD is still a toddler) is to have an open and honest ongoing dialogue about sex. You can't avoid talking about it, especially when it's a mainstay of advertising. So I won't be ignoring sexual things that come up, and I won't be tut-tutting about them or getting grossed out. But I will be clear that they are for adults and that they have certain cultural meanings. I will try to talk about the way sex is portrayed in our culture, and how real that is, and what that seems to tell us about men and women and gender and biology and sexual orientation etc. All in an age appropriate way!

I have also promised myself that I will never talk badly about my body or other people's bodies. I'm fairly comfortable with nudity in the home. Honestly I think seeing your parents in all their hairy, flabby glory gives one a decent first exposure to real human bodies that may help to disillusion kids against the air brushed imagery of advertising and porn.

As DD (and subsequent children) start exploring clothes, make-up etc then I hope to be very open with her about what those clothes and make-up signal. Not in a bad way, but just in a realistic way. I won't say she's not allowed to go out in that trampy dress, but I will talk with her about whether she's comfortable, at age 14 for example, giving off those sexual signals.

Also, much against my non-authoritarian tenancies, there will be no internet access in the bedrooms. Some things you just can't un-see.

#7 Snot stew

Posted 26 February 2013 - 06:25 PM

So far my kids are pretty innocent when it comes to sexualisation, fortunately.  We are open about questions regarding sex, they know anything they want to know (age appropriate of course).  But they run through the house naked, DD who is 9.5yo still likes to go about topless inside the house on hot days.

We don't watch MTV at all, they pretty much just watch ABC and kids' DVDs.  On the occasion that they happen to see MTV elsewhere, we always have a bit of a giggle over the ladies dancing around in their underwear... they are too innocent to see anything else in it.

I often make comments regarding the persuasive nature of advertising and marketing, and this I hope will set them up to look at sexualisation more objectively as well.



#8 pinkelephant

Posted 26 February 2013 - 06:34 PM

I'm such a prude and feel often like I'm going against the grain here, but I don't like the idea of children seeing their parents naked. I don't think we should teach kids to be embarassed or ashamed of their bodies but that the naked body is a very private thing.

I have always found it kind of odd hearing that parents still bath/shower with their kids after say 5 years of age. That's just me though-- but its no wonder the girls are wearing mini shorts above their backsides as it almost seems a lot of parents are too liberal about their bodies in the home so perhaps the kids don't see the problem?

#9 ~Supernova~

Posted 26 February 2013 - 06:43 PM

QUOTE (pinkelephant @ 26/02/2013, 07:34 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I'm such a prude and feel often like I'm going against the grain here, but I don't like the idea of children seeing their parents naked. I don't think we should teach kids to be embarassed or ashamed of their bodies but that the naked body is a very private thing.

I have always found it kind of odd hearing that parents still bath/shower with their kids after say 5 years of age. That's just me though-- but its no wonder the girls are wearing mini shorts above their backsides as it almost seems a lot of parents are too liberal about their bodies in the home so perhaps the kids don't see the problem?


Kids are being pressured by the media and their peers to be sexual and trampy. I still shower on occasion with my 8yr old, and I am 100% comfortable with my kids seeing me nude on a regular basis. I am totally against the idea that this particular scenario encourages inappropriate sexuality in children.

We are very open about sex with DD too. I answer all questions with complete honesty. But she isn't allowed to wander around in skimpy clothing, no matter how much she wants to "look like her friends".

It's not difficult to teach your children that what is ok at home, is not ok outside of the home. It's not like I wander the shops with my bits hanging out.

Edited by Mareek, 26 February 2013 - 06:45 PM.


#10 CallMeFeral

Posted 26 February 2013 - 06:48 PM

The actual gangnam style dance is anything but sexy! My kids do it, but it's kind of a bizarre horseriding move.... he's 'doin' it rong'?

I was upset though when my cousin last week introduced them to Nikki Minaj. REALLY not appropriate clips. I don't know what he was thinking. Hopefully now he's left they will forget about it.

TBH I go to more lengths to protect mine from gender related behaviour than sexualising behaviour, because I think they are kind of linked. And also because I guess they are only 3 and 4 so they don't have much opportunity to be exposed to the latter anyway.

QUOTE (pinkelephant @ 26/02/2013, 07:34 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
but its no wonder the girls are wearing mini shorts above their backsides as it almost seems a lot of parents are too liberal about their bodies in the home so perhaps the kids don't see the problem?

ddoh.gif
Are you serious? Do you think seeing their parents in the nude really teaches kids to sexualise the naked body? Honestly?
And seriously. How many teens want to look like their parents?


#11 pinkelephant

Posted 26 February 2013 - 06:49 PM

I completely accept and respect that view- just to me personally kids dont need to know about sex. I guess I'm turning into my mother lol

#12 Jane F. Jetson

Posted 26 February 2013 - 06:52 PM

QUOTE (pinkelephant @ 26/02/2013, 07:34 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I have always found it kind of odd hearing that parents still bath/shower with their kids after say 5 years of age. That's just me though-- but its no wonder the girls are wearing mini shorts above their backsides as it almost seems a lot of parents are too liberal about their bodies in the home so perhaps the kids don't see the problem?


I don't see a causal connection at all.

One is about normal non-sexual intimacy, the other is about an entirely manufactured capitalist construction aimed at commodification of sex (as opposed to intimacy).

#13 CallMeFeral

Posted 26 February 2013 - 06:59 PM

QUOTE (pinkelephant @ 26/02/2013, 07:49 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I completely accept and respect that view- just to me personally kids dont need to know about sex. I guess I'm turning into my mother lol


You get that knowing about sex is QUITE a different thing to seeing your parents nude, right? It's not like the parents are actually having sex in front of the child...

I accept that some people are not comfortable with family nudity around the home, each to their own. But to equate that to children with poor sexual boundaries is way WAAAAAY out of line and does not appear to have any basis whatsoever...

#14 pinkelephant

Posted 26 February 2013 - 07:04 PM

Ah I might need to come back tomorrow and elaborate when i'm not so tired. My pregnancy brain is not making any sense. Not interested in an argument just a healthy discussion.

Not sure if this will make sense but I guess I wonder if children being exposed to nudity and their parents having open discussions about sex with them at a young age could mean they would be open to sexual activities at a younger age.  I have no basis for this thought, it's just something I have thought may be an issue.

To me it's similar to that whole question of "if a teenager is given a glass of wine at home does it make them less likely to overindulge with friends?".  Do we take the strict approach and not say a word or do we educate our children and leave those lines of communication open.



#15 cinnabubble

Posted 26 February 2013 - 07:06 PM

Kids, in my opinion, need to know where babies come from. I'm pretty sure exposure to their parents being naked will not lead to hypersexual behaviour.

I for one am sick of "sexy" being a word that is used in front of and by children. Gangnam Style and Sexy and I know It are two songs on high rotation at kids's playcentre parties, which is pretty jawdropping. It's a synonym for ****able and it's a word that I'm totally unwilling to explain to my children.

#16 Angelot

Posted 26 February 2013 - 07:08 PM

QUOTE (pinkelephant @ 26/02/2013, 08:04 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Not sure if this will make sense but I guess I wonder if children being exposed to nudity and their parents having open discussions about sex with them at a young age could mean they would be open to sexual activities at a younger age.


It's my understanding that kids start to have sex at about the same age either way, but the ones who have had open discussions are more likely to be aware of issues of consent, safety, and health, and use condoms/other forms of contraception.

#17 ~Supernova~

Posted 26 February 2013 - 07:09 PM

QUOTE (pinkelephant @ 26/02/2013, 08:04 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Ah I might need to come back tomorrow and elaborate when i'm not so tired. My pregnancy brain is not making any sense. Not interested in an argument just a healthy discussion.

Not sure if this will make sense but I guess I wonder if children being exposed to nudity and their parents having open discussions about sex with them at a young age could mean they would be open to sexual activities at a younger age.  I have no basis for this thought, it's just something I have thought may be an issue.

To me it's similar to that whole question of "if a teenager is given a glass of wine at home does it make them less likely to overindulge with friends?".  Do we take the strict approach and not say a word or do we educate our children and leave those lines of communication open.
        

I do see where you are coming from, but I strongly disagree. And honestly, the alternative is even more unpalatable to me. A naive young girl who knows nothing about sex, and little about her body, is a dangerous situation in my opinion. When a guy starts pressuring her for sex "because she would do it if she loved him" where is her knowledge and sexual self confidence to help her say no, or at the very least insist on protection?

#18 Jane F. Jetson

Posted 26 February 2013 - 07:10 PM

QUOTE (pinkelephant @ 26/02/2013, 08:04 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
To me it's similar to that whole question of "if a teenager is given a glass of wine at home does it make them less likely to overindulge with friends?".  Do we take the strict approach and not say a word or do we educate our children and leave those lines of communication open.


It's not remotely similar. Seeing your parents in the nuddy as a six-year-old does not share a continuum with being open to sexual experimentation for the simple reason that one is a sexual behaviour and the other is not. Drinking at home and overindulging with friends are both on a continuum of alcohol consumption.

#19 cinnabubble

Posted 26 February 2013 - 07:13 PM

Nudity =/= sex.

#20 Also sprach

Posted 26 February 2013 - 07:20 PM

QUOTE
Not sure if this will make sense but I guess I wonder if children being exposed to nudity and their parents having open discussions about sex with them at a young age could mean they would be open to sexual activities at a younger age.  I have no basis for this thought, it's just something I have thought may be an issue.




I'd say it's very much the opposite. Girls educated about sex are far less likely to end up with unwanted pregnancies and are far less likely to give into pressure into having sex at a young age.  Likewise boys educated about sex are far more likely to use contraception and far less likely to pressure girls into having sex.

#21 Chelli

Posted 26 February 2013 - 08:46 PM

Firstly, that is a great article and I am a big fan of Steve Biddulph. I had the pleasure of hearing him speak at length on this subject last year.

As the mother of three girls, I am worried about early sexualisation. In another role I have, I am dealing with the fallout of this quite regularly. There are things that are happening at a younger and younger age that seriously makes my jaw drop. Technology, especially unmonitored use of technology has made the situation worse. Sexting is a huge issue with really serious ramifications. I no longer encourage music videos on TV as the Rhianna and Nikki Minaje etc push the porn boundaries constantly, and the rappers objectify women in the most demeaning of ways both verbally and in their video clips. I would rather give that a miss while my girls are developing their self identities. It probably makes me sound old, but I have also given trash shows like Home and Away a miss now too.

Nudity is a constant in our household. I never want them to be ashamed of their
bodies, and there is a difference between doing a nudie run when grabbing a towel after a shower and deliberately exposing yourself. Everyone's privacy is
also paramount and respected, as is the understanding of appropriateness with
visitors etc in the house.

I talk to them constantly about issues including peer pressure, respecting themselves, boundaries, deliberately place strong female (and male) role models in their lives, and refuse to purchase clothing that makes them look like they
would be at home in a nightclub.

They don't always agree with me about this, but I'm not here to be their BFF, it's my job to get them through to adulthood in one piece. I just hope that I am doing enough because it really is a tough time for girls in today's society.

#22 Canberra Chick

Posted 27 February 2013 - 07:05 PM

I would have thought growing up seeing nudity at home as normal and not a shameful secret would remove a lot of the 'mystique' about human bodies.

I grew up seeing my parentswandering around in the buff, I got told where babies came from in an age appropriate way when I asked, I also knew my parents had sex (insomniac teenager, vocal mother, eeeww). When my period started I asked my dad to fetch pads from the cupboard in the hall (mum was out).

I believe all of this made the whole sex thing less intriguing and I felt no need to 'tart' myself up as a young teenager (and my parents would have put their foot down if I'd tried to wear hot pants and a crop top) and when I first had sex at 18 I was ready, set the pace, had contraception and protection sorted and did it with someone I was going steady with and we stayed together for five years. And it was fun and not this painful ordeal that I had read about in magazines.

I will continue to be naked in front of my two until they ask me not to. I want them to accept and love their bodies. I will openly answer questions about sex. I will not have pop videos on on weekend morning and will monitor their viewing. Internet access is highly restricted.
Oh, and in this family they will be taught that sex is not something you rush into or casually do and it's best with someone you love and respect and who loves and respects you.




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