This is about the padded bras for seven year olds controversy, a bathing suit that has already been banned from sale in many localities. And while some are saying "good riddance to that female-repressing, pedophile-attracting piece of cloth!" others, like in this opinion piece, are exercising a bit of common sense.
But this is the age of Mumsnet. And there's nothing the Mumsnet mob likes better than a bit of a moral panic, particularly if it can be linked to a downmarket chain store. Such is the website's sway at the moment, that its criticism of the bikini saw it lambasted by David Cameron and taken off the shelves in record time, with Primark offering to donate any profits made on it to a children's charity. Call me a sexual libertarian, but that does seem to be a bit of an overreaction and proof that – when it comes to children – we are prone to knee-jerk behaviour.I love coming across a word that so precisely fits what we see adults doing in society. If people are good at creating cutesy little labels for children and teens' silly little behaviors, then let's create a silly little label for the adults' silly little behaviors as well, we'll call it, pulling the knee-jerk. And nothing could be a better representation of the knee-jerk than the overreaction as described above, but then again, who are we to interfere with such a generous and "from the heart" donation to a children's charity? Why does it seem that children's charities wait around to soak up people's guilt money from one moral panic to the next?
A particular bugbear is the way in which outfits which pander to a little girl's desire to be grown up are being presented as a virtual charter for paedophilia, even though there is no evidence of a link between so-called "sexy" clothing and the sexual abuse of minors.It's an age-old excuse, "we can't liberate children because then the monsters will get them," and it unfortunately seems to be the prevailing attitude despite it's ludicrousness. It's only obvious that adults just don't like seeing a mature child, it doesn't fit their social paradigm. Then this article really turns up the heat on the opposition and spits their own rhetoric right back in their face:
Suggesting that a mother shouldn't dress her daughter in a padded bra because it might attract unwanted attention is perilously close to telling a woman in a mini-skirt she is asking to be raped.You go girl!
The real issue with the premature sexualisation of girls is not the way it might affect how others see them, but the way it might affect how they see themselves.Of course this is the other side of the moral panic issue, and it's at this point the article begins devolving down it's own trail of tears to the land of moral-panic, but it's understandable, because unlike the child molester link, low self-esteem in girls is a real life issue. However, the so-called sexualization of children doesn't inevitably lead to low self esteem, and pinning the responsibility for shaping each girl's level of confidence on a clothing store is just being irresponsible.
It's not the stores' responsibility to nurture the pro-social development of children. That is and always should be the parent's. We saw the same moral-panic reasoning with the "Boys are Stupid, Throw Rocks at Them" shirts, which prompted a whole storm of knee-jerk reactions all around the country, and the same is happening all over again with these padded bras for seven year olds. You could almost set your watch by the accuracy of this endless social waltz.
God forbid children grow up faster than we deem them too. God help us from the knee-jerk reaction.