As a parent, I have become increasingly consciously interested in the debate on the sexualization of childhood and gender-stereotyping.
Sexualization of childhood is not new. I vividly recall my mother refusing to let 7-year-old me buy an off-the-shoulder party dress like one of my schoolfriends. And it goes without saying that gender stereotyping has been around for longer than any of us can remember.
But it is enough to simply not buy the inappropriate dress? The tween bikini with ‘call me’ emblazoned across the bottoms? The toddler t-shirt that says ‘hung like a 5-year old’?
Well, it’s a start. But, no:
‘It’s not about the t-shirt, or the costume or the bikini or the miniskirt or whatever…..It’s about recognizing that the singular product(s) that garner media attention are but a drop in an ocean of sexualization and negative stereotyping of our children that masquerades as “positive” sassiness. It’s about recognizing that children who are bombarded with image after image of boys being active and girls having tea parties….start to see these roles as their rightful place in the world.
Do I think that I, as a lawyer and a feminist and an active, powerful woman am the strongest role model my children have for what a woman can be? Absolutely. And I’m thankful every day that my kids have fabulous women and men in their lives who provide them with terriffic support and examples.
But I don’t think for one minute that these are enough. Because we do not live in a bubble. My kids see supposedly “educational” programming that relegates women to cute supporting roles. They see toys in the toy aisle that encourage little girls to project an image of adult women dressed for a night at a dance club…. They see images of boys rejecting anything “feminine” and being told to be a “real man”.’
Extract and original article from ‘I’m Just Not Impressed’.