A Window into Life in the Suburbs

"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." Luke 12:27 (NIV)

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Sexualization of Our Children

As a mother of girls I confess to being extremely paranoid about the way the wider culture attempts to sexualize our children through the media and the entertainment industry. From the day the 9 year old was old enough to be interested in Bratz, I've been fighting an uphill battle to protect her from being bombarded by sexually suggestive images. It could be my age or philosophical bent showing but it always baffles me when parents become willing participants in this process. Take the recent case of this dance video which has gone viral on the internet featuring five eight and nine year olds dancing to Beyonce's "Single Ladies".  The entertainment industry in its self-interest knows that there's money to be made by pushing young talent into the spotlight but for parents to give consent to their children using their bodies in a sexually provocative manner, blows my mind completely.

Have we no more boundaries or standards?
Or is it just me?

One worrying trend that we've seen is the way certain well-known child actors "progress" from their wholesome girl-next-door image into musical sexpots, as this article from Newbusters point out.
From Lindsay Lohan to Britney Spears, positive role models are hard to find in the entertainment industry. Even teen sensation Miley Cyrus, known for her breakout role in Disney’s wholesome “Hannah Montana,” has been shedding her good girl image. Despite wearing her religious faith on her sleeve, Cyrus has had some controversies in the past and was recently hit with a couple more scandals. Her new music video, “Can’t Be Tamed” featured her dancing provocatively, and footage recently emerged of her grinding with a man in his forties at a party.

This is the stuff of parental nightmares. (I'm secretly hoping that our girls continue watching Dora the Explorer right through their teens.)

When I was a teenager, it was Madonna making waves flaunting her knickers in public and singing suggestively about virgins but while Madonna was trying to shock and provoke reaction, we have gradually seen this kind of emphasis on female sexuality become normalized. It seems to be the right of passage, almost,  for child celebrities to disavow their girl-next-door image for a sexually evocative image to transition their careers into "adulthood".

The normalizing of media sexuality is troubling because society is on a slippery slope to becoming desensitized to the exploitation and objectification of women and children's bodies. The film, Taken gives excellent insight into the trafficking of young females except in real life, few have a Liam Neeson father figure to pluck them out of their despair. A friend of mine who reads this blog, can tell you horror stories about girls in Southeast Asia who are tricked or kidnapped by unscrupulous human traffickers and sold into houses of ill repute.
Granted that's an extreme scenario but if you've been following the Roman Polanski case closely, you'll see that it isn't as far removed as one might think. Young, starry eyed, aspiring actresses being sexually exploited by Hollywood heavyweights as a matter of course. So much so, that many (not all) in that industry have come out in support of the director despite his flouting the law for a few decades.

Clearly, it's a symptom of a larger problem. The sanctity of sex has been taken out of marriage and become an effective marketing tool. The entertainment industry, where anything goes, milks it for whatever it's worth.


  1. It saddens me and angers me that sex has become a marketing commodity - and it also frightens me that children are the targets. The thing is, I'm sure some parents think it's 'cute' (like the dance routine, or wearing makeup), which is even more frightening. I know we can't protect our children forever, but I'm going to try my hardest to protect my girls from the media onslaught of sexy images and innuendo.

  2. amen to this, you would really like the book 'whats happening to our girls', by Maggie Hamilton, it goes right into the way media, marketers etc target our precious inocents...

  3. Sabbar Sentiments: Thanks for the tip... I will put it on my wish list at The Book Depository.

    Debbie: Yeah, I'm scared too... All those wolves out there.

  4. So what can we do? We take a stand. We speak as you have done. We protect our children in a healthy way - without cottonwool but by teach them values and a wholesome lifestyle. And we encourage others to do the same.
    Thank you for posting this.

  5. Great post Lilian, and something that I have been thinking a lot about lately. I can only conclude that we raise our children with Biblical values, we pray for them, we keep media consumption as a family activity (or within view of the whole family). Like Michelle said, we encourage each other to stand up and be different in our parenting!


Let me know what you think!