Monday, August 25, 2008

Overly Sexy Girls

Anytime Jean Kilbourne has a new book out, I pay attention. And last week, I came upon her latest while hunting for that new ProBlogger book at B&N. Kilbourne's latest is called So Sexy, So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids, and it's coauthored with education professor Diane Levin.

I was waiting for someone to come out with this book. Like The Lolita Effect: The Media Sexualization of Young Girls and What We Can Do About It (note the similarity of the subtitles), the authors accuse the media of sexualizing children. No surprise there. But what does sound surprising is the extremity of the anecdotes. Here's from the Publishers Weekly review:
Constantly, American children are exposed to a barrage of sexual images in television, movies, music and the Internet. They are taught young that buying certain clothes, consuming brand-name soft drinks and owning the right possessions will make them sexy and cool—and being sexy and cool is the most important thing. Young men and women are spoon-fed images that equate sex with violence, paint women as sexually subservient to men and encourage hooking up rather than meaningful connections. The result is that kids are having sex younger and with more partners than ever before. Eating disorders and body image issues are common as early as grade school. Levin and Kilbourne stress that there is nothing wrong with a young person's natural sexual awakening, but it is wrong to allow a young person's sexuality to be hijacked by corporations who want them as customers. The authors offer advice on how parents can limit children's exposure to commercialized sex, and how parents can engage kids in constructive, age-appropriate conversation about sex and the media. One need only read the authors' anecdotes to see why this book is relevant.

Any of you parents--or girls studies experts--out there got your own advice on dealing with this phenomenon? Inquiring minds are eager to know.


Anonymous said...

There is some media blame but as a teacher, I saw way too many parents condoning and approving of their 11 and 12 year old children dating. Aiding and abetting even.

It gets down to how we parent and our expectations.

Deborah Siegel said...

11 year olds dating? OY...

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