Is the sexualisation of children not a symptom of some sort of deeper malaise?
I am not sure about the whole sexualisation of children debate. That is not to say that I am not worried about the exposure of children to so much sexualised imagery from an early age, but I am not entirely sure that banning lads’ mags, banning explicit posters and only allowing certain music videos on TV after the watershed [as proposed in last week’s report by psychologist Linda Papadopoulos] is a sufficient or effective response, given how widespread those images are, given that lads mags sales are actually falling and most of the focus now seems on online material and given that a lot of kids view music online these days. Can you censor the entire internet? It is so easy for kids to pick up x-rated stuff by just a click of the mouse. A friend of mine was horrified a while ago to find that her son had been accessing images of women urinating naked which he had apparently been shown by a mate. He is 7. What do you do? I know there are parental controls you can put on your computer, but lots of kids now have mobile phones and what if they go to friends’ houses where there are no parental controls in place? And what do you do about sites like Youtube which the kids love for watching things like Alvin and the Chipmunks, but where you are never more than a click away from Alvin and the Chipmunks x-rated?
But doing nothing seems a bit futile too, given that the porn industry will not exactly be lying back thinking of England. Since porn sells to such a wide market and we operate under a system which responds to market demand, it can surely only increase its hold if left to its own devices. I listened to a debate on the radio the other day where a woman was trying to make out that the kind of things children are exposed to these days are more or less the same as has existed throughout time. Children have always wanted to dress up in their parents’ clothes and to be provocative, she argued. However, there is surely a difference between putting on your mum’s high heels and viewing bestiality on the internet or even seeing a man swipe a card down a woman’s buttocks in a music video. I am not even sure it is just about sexualisation. It seems to be more about turning people into objects and dehumanising them. Into that category I would put the whole incorporation of business speak into our personal lives – for instance, talking about people’s personal brands – and the whole idea that you can basically sell every facet of your life and that that is being a good businessperson aka Katie Price or the notion that everything can be bought, even, potentially, something as personal as a face.
I think it’s part of a general malaise that kids are growing up with, which affects adults too. We are busy churning away at life, against a backdrop of potential end of the worldness [with every week seeming to turn up a new climate disaster], war, global financial collapse, etc. It doesn’t exactly encourage a positive outlook. No-one seems to have any vision for how we can get out of this mess and, of course, it opens the door to multiple types of extremist. Meanwhile, we flounder around in all the trappings of despair.
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