Monday, April 19, 2010

The Knee-Jerk Reaction

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.


  1. I am with the people who dislike bras for kids that don’t need them. i.e., kids under 13. Go to any swimming pool or beach and you’ll see tiny tots with silly bits of cloth hiding nothing, supporting bugger all.

    As to the puritanical, so called ‘Family Values’ pressure groups that say they want to protect kids from nasty child predators. Sorry, I don’t buy it guys.

    I saw a video clip on Yahoo 7 in Australia last week. A child dance group were wearing the standard hip-hop kit, tiny shorts, stockings, titty tapes etc. As to the dance style, it was a cross between the gangster hoe moves depicted on any gangster hoe video clip and a classic cancan.

    I watched it and thought; Very nice, healthy active kids of my own daughter’s age, 8 or so, doing what healthy active kids do best...Dancing, playing dress up... having fun and being happy.

    But what did the dirty minded ‘Family Values’ set see? Well, according to the journalists, who feed on juicy morsels put out by self riotous, media hungry puritans...

    These high kicking child performers have been... SEXUALISED!!

    “What!!” I exclaimed, in utter horror! “Who would want to do that to innocent little dancing girls?”

    I reached for my pitch fork and torch and went-a-huntin for the culprit in the dead of night ... Then I thought to myself...

    Hang on..!

    You can’t sexualise a child. It’s like saying, “These kids have been HUMANISED.

    We are all sexualised from the cradle to the grave, due to the fact that we are manufactured complete with standard reproductive organs.

    I would like to ask the personnel in these phoney ‘Family Values’ pressure groups.

    “Who among you considers a little girl in skimpy dance outfit... sexy, in an adult sense.”

    If they say, as I am sure they would... “Oh no, not me, we are taking about somebody else, the creeps who sexualise little girls.”

    “Of course you are.” would be my reply.

    Verbally challenge any puritanical, hard faced practitioner of ‘New-Speak,’ because they’ll be using terms like ‘Thought-Crime’ too.


  2. Thank you, Meade.

    I often see Orwellian newspeak in the modern media, usually written by self appointed guardians of our children, the so called, 'Family Values' associations, who talk about ' Corporate Pedophilia' when they come across pretty child models, photographed in in a major Australian chain store catalogue. According to these dirty minded puritans. The kids in said catalogue were provocatively posed in inappropriate clothing. I flicked through this scary dangerous publication and found standard catalogue poses... Just normal kids in normal clothing.

    Now, the question is... Why would anyone see evil pedophile corporations hiding under their beds, when I saw pretty kids in cute threads.

    Did I or anyone else authorise these puritanical thought police to guard our kids? Protecting any child is a parents job, a teachers job when the child is at school.

    The gutter press are always keen to start hysterical witch hunts for anyone who takes photographs of pretty children. Be it an important artist like, Bill Henson or a well respected department store using cute child models in their catalogues.

    Then we have Joe public burning torches and going after some mythical ‘Corporate Pedophile.’ They’re not quite sure who they’re gonna lynch, but some sucker’s gonna hang for being a... “What was it again?”

    Family values goons are just hate groups, looking for wickedness and sin in everybody but themselves. Go back in history and you’ll find some high profile puritans calling for rigid censorship and drastic punishments to curb lustful libertines.

    Then you’ll see some lurid headline saying this pillar of the community has been caught with his pants down in some house of lust, or in the back seat of a hooker’s car. Investigate most high minded, vocal puritans and you’ll find a loud mouthed hypocrite with more than one skeleton in his closet.